How to Overcome Sexual Trauma: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Sexual trauma, understood as very bad experiences or traumatic experiences in the sexual field, they often lead to physical and especially mental deficienciesthrough post-traumatic stress disorder.

In such cases, a wide variety of psychological symptoms are observed, both behavioral, emotional and cognitive, which is why it is important to consult a professional.

Apart from the therapeutic intervention, the person There are a number of strategies you can apply to overcome sexual trauma in your life. and achieve a rapid improvement in mental health. Below we will talk about sexual trauma, what are the main symptoms related to this condition and how we can manage and treat them.

What are sexual traumas?

Sexual trauma means traumatic experiences related to sex, such as sexual abuse or rape (in the latter case, the action is carried out with both violence and intimidation). These experiences mark the subject who undergoes them, not only on the physical level but also on the psychological level, and these physical and behavioral alterations are the most lasting and the most difficult to heal.

We must bear in mind that any act performed without explicit consent, either because the subject is unable to express consent or because he does not want the sexual intercourse to take place, will be considered as abuse or violence depending on the characteristics of the act.

Sexual Trauma Symptoms

Given the severity of the experience, effects will be observed in all or nearly all areas of the subject, altering their life behaviorally, cognitively and emotionally. Despite the fact that time has passed since the abuse or rape, the individual may continue to be affected and even more so if he has not received treatment for it.

It is also common that, although we notice an improvement in symptoms, in situations related to sex, moments of intimacythe discomfort increases and it is difficult for him to cope with it, despite the fact that he is well with his partner.

There is a long list of symptoms, which can vary in intensity or characteristics depending on the subjects. Remember that every person is different and not all exhibit the same pattern of assignment, which is why individualized assessment and evaluation should be done.

Some of the most common symptoms are: increased distrust (not only of others, but also of oneself), emotional lability, impaired social relationships, decreased performance, increased shyness, social isolation, low self-esteem, guilt over what is happening. passed, impaired cognitive abilities such as memory or concentration, insomnia, sphincter control problems (especially in boys and girls) or substance abuse.

The symptoms that cause the most discomfort are related to the causes already mentioned, that is, traumatic situations, but we can also show effects or difficulties during sexual intercourse if we have had an experience that has affected without necessarily being rape or abuse. In the same way, whenever it affects us, we have to deal with it and seek therapy if necessary.

Types of sexual trauma

There are two main types of sexual trauma, with their own characteristics and psychological consequences. They are next.

1. Sexual trauma caused by violence

The sequelae of this type of sexual trauma are often linked to the general behavior of the person towards others: there is a predisposition to distrust and blame for what has happened and, in extreme cases, antisocial behavior. If the trauma occurred in childhood or adolescence, the risk of school failure and study difficulties increases.

2. Trauma caused by rape

Faced with this type of sexual trauma, all the consequences of the previous variant are generally given, and in addition, sexual blockages and fear of sex often arise because of the “flashbacks” the victim experiences when trying to maintain an intimate relationship (though in some cases this also occurs in the abuse-related type).

How to overcome sexual trauma

Now that we know the different symptoms and the severity of this condition, affecting the functionality of the subject, it will be important to identify the symptoms and treat them in a personalized way according to their main alterations.

Receiving professional help will be essential to be able to face and overcome the discomfort. Thus, psychological therapy can help treat the various symptoms by applying techniques aimed at improving the behavior, emotion and cognition of the patient. In addition to treating and being able to treat the traumatic situation appropriately, this type of psychological interventions will provide strategies to deal with the different situations where the symptoms and general discomfort may increase or reappear.

In cases where symptoms are severe and need to be reduced quickly, psychotropic drugs may be prescribed (under medical supervision) in addition to psychotherapy; that is to say that this resource from psychiatry does not replace the intervention of the psychologist. Medicines can be useful to reduce the initial discomfort, but later we must withdraw them gradually, since it cannot be a chronic treatment.

The intervention of mental health professionals can also be supplemented with routines and habits that you can do yourself in your everyday life. In this sense, it is very important that the patient collaborates, that he is motivated to favor the progress of the treatment, and that he himself carries out a personal work of management of the emotions, because otherwise the healing will be more difficult, slower.

So back to the question of how to overcome sexual trauma through self-directed actions. Here are some strategies that can be helpful in improving the patient’s condition and helping them get better quickly.

1. Forgive me

As we have seen, a typical symptom of sexual trauma is self-blame; blame themselves for having been victims of abuse or rape. Although this may seem contradictory, as it is clear that at no time will the victim be guilty of the facts, there often arises in her the idea of ​​what would have happened if she had acted differently or if she could have avoided it..

But all of these assumptions are projected onto facts that we cannot change, and in no way does the action of the victim justify the action that the abuser took.

In order to overcome the event and be able to improve our state, we must allow ourselves to do so. In other words, if we feel guilty, it will be very difficult for therapy or treatment to help us, because our own thinking will not allow us to move on and heal.

2. Don’t be in a hurry

Every process of improvement, of change towards emotional well-being, takes time. Do not worry if you see that despite treatment you still have symptoms, the important thing is that you see that you are progressing. As with any condition, there may be relapses or situations that reactivate certain symptoms, but this should be a sign to keep us vigilant and to continue working so as not to return to the initial situation.

3. Make time for yourself

It’s good to have time to dedicate, to relax, do what we love and be able to reflect and know how we are, what is our state. In this way, if we spend time, it will be easier to identify the different situations and why everything happens to us, and to be able to act preventively if we detect symptoms or sensations other than the usual ones.

By this advice, we do not mean that you constantly pay attention to what you think or what who worries you, just spend a little time a day to know our status and take action if necessary.

4. Identify your emotions

Even if we know the different emotions, it is sometimes difficult for us to identify what we feel, what emotion the situation generates for us. We must keep in mind that a mixture of complex emotions and feelings may arisethat is, we can feel more than one emotional experience, even being able to show seemingly opposite and incompatible emotions, both positive and negative, when faced with the same situation.

For example, we may want to be more intimate with our partner, but because of the traumatic experience we have been through, we may be afraid to face the situation.

For this reason, it can be helpful to try to identify and distinguish between different emotions. By practicing an emotion diary, this process of recognition will become easier and easier for you.

Try to exercise emotional identification in your everyday life, with the different emotions that arise. In this way, when you see certain negative emotions or those that cause you discomfort increase, you can act preventively, relaxing, breathing or acting so that they decrease.

5. Stay active

Staying active by doing activities that we enjoy, that help us feel better, is also conducive to the recovery process. Exercising or working out benefits both your internal and external state, that is to say, it benefits your physical health, keeps you fit and your mental health, helping you to purify yourself. In the same way, it facilitates the production of a type of neurotransmitter, endorphins, which decrease the sensation of pain, discomfort and promote well-being.

Other activities that can help you are do relaxation exercises, meditation or yoga. These are practices that will help you reduce your state of stress, your tension, while at the same time helping you to connect to yourself, to be more aware of yourself and your present.

6. Express how you feel

Externalizing what we feel, our fears and worriesliberates us and helps us to be stronger, to be able to face and overcome all these worries and fears associated with sexual trauma.

Few things work on their own, especially when it comes to such delicate events as the reaction to a traumatic experience. For this reason, it will be crucial that you attend to your condition, and a first step that can be helpful in finding out how you really feel and what you are feeling is to externalize your mental states through emotional labeling. .

You can do this act of expressing yourself to acquaintances, family or friends, who can support you, feeling that you are not alone and that you have people who understand you and are ready to help you and/or a professional who, in the same way, he will support you and thanks to your knowledge and experience can help you to work and form techniques and strategies that can be useful to improve your condition and face the various risky situations that may arise in the future.

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