The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuseby Wendy Maltz
Considered a classic in its field, this comprehensive guide will help survivors of sexual abuse improve their relationships and discover the joys of sexual intimacy. Wendy Maltz takes survivors step-by-step through the recovery process using groundbreaking exercises and techniques. Based on the author's clinical work, interviews, and workshops, this guide is filled… See more details below
Considered a classic in its field, this comprehensive guide will help survivors of sexual abuse improve their relationships and discover the joys of sexual intimacy. Wendy Maltz takes survivors step-by-step through the recovery process using groundbreaking exercises and techniques. Based on the author's clinical work, interviews, and workshops, this guide is filled with first-person accounts of women and men at every stage of sexual healing.
This compassionate resource helps survivors to:
- Identify the sexual effects of sexual abuse
- Eliminate negative sexual behavior and resolve specific problems
- Gain control over upsetting automatic reactions to touch and sex
- Develop a healthy sexual self-concept
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
- Product dimensions:
- 6.11(w) x 11.11(h) x 1.11(d)
Read an Excerpt
Realizing There's a Sexual Issue
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
-- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
It was a cool November evening. Wrapped in big, fluffy towels, Sally and Jim crept onto their secluded backyard deck, took off the cover of their hot tub, slipped out of their towels, and eased into the hot water. Relaxing in their hot tub was one of their favorite things to do together. For Jim it was the only time Sally seemed comfortable letting him touch her anymore. Since their wedding day six years earlier, their sex life had been a problem. No matter what Jim tried, Sally never seemed aroused. Now they would let a month or two go by without having sex. Lately Sally would even pull away from him when he would start to give her a hug.
But something felt different tonight. Once in the tub Sally began touching Jim. He was surprised -- even shocked -- at first. Sally stroked him in ways she never had before. Jim laughed, telling her he felt attacked. He was delighted too. All of a sudden Sally broke down. She sobbed uncontrollably. Jim was shattered.
Jim leaned toward her. "What is it, honey?" he asked. Slowly and tearfully, Sally said, "I don't know why, but I find you a sexual bore. I'm not interested in having sex with you in the least. I'm real close to having an affair with another man."
Jim couldn't believe what he was hearing. He had no idea Sally felt this way. They'd always avoided talking about the sexual part of their relationship even though they both knew it was a problem. He felt like his whole world had fallen apart. Is it me? Isit her? he wondered. I just don't know. I'm scared to death.
Sally was confused as well, later recalling that
the biggest thing on my mind was that this other man, a virtual stranger, had aroused me sexually. That had never happened to me before. I didn't think I was capable of getting so aroused, and it scared me. I thought, why can someone else turn me on when my husband doesn't? That night in the hot tub, all these feelings and words just came pouring out from I'm not quite sure where. It was awful. I knew it was important at the time to finally get my sadness out. And it got us talking a lot and admitting that something was definitely wrong.
Neither of them will ever forget the moment they realized they had a serious sexual problem. But once the problem had surfaced, they could begin to do something about it. Sally and Jim's family physician referred them to me for therapy. Sally had previously told the physician that she was a survivor of sexual abuse.
In counseling, Sally and Jim were again surprised. I suggested that Sally's lack of sexual interest in Jim and her attraction to this other man might be repercussions of the molestation she had suffered years before by her brother. Sally explained her confusion:
I couldn't figure it out.... When I talked to people before about having been sexually abused, they tended to downplay it. I thought it wasn't a big deal because I knew what had happened, who had done it, why it had happened.... I was led to believe that meant I had come to grips with it and it wasn't causing me any problems. That first day of counseling we began exploring the abuse in much more detail, and discovered that it was the crux of the problem.
Today, seven years and two children later, Sally and Jim look back with pride on their sexual recovery process. They have told me that they enjoy a deeper intimacy and a more satisfying sexual life than they ever thought possible.
I hear many stories like Sally and Jim's in my practice. No one comes to see me feeling excited or happy that they've recognized a sexual concern. Rather, they usually enter therapy feeling emotionally pained and desperate. Unresolved sexual issues may be straining their relationship, but even though they want help, it's not uncommon for survivors to resist looking at sexual issues. Many couples are unclear what role, if any, past sexual abuse could be playing in their current problems.
Sexual concerns are hard to face. They're personal and embarrassing. When we have a sexual problem, we may try to deny it or hope it will just go away by itself. Sometimes we worry that admitting our problems will cause others to reject us or think less of us. We may go through a lot of pain before we're willing to admit we have a substantial problem and want to do something about it.
How do we finally come to admit we have a sexual problem that needs attention? Often the admission comes at a key moment, like a flash of discovery. We're able to acknowledge a problem for the first time. Or if we've already been aware of a problem, we're suddenly able to see its significance more clearly. It's often not until we feel confused, hopeless, unfulfilled, or self-destructive that we can no longer ignore the real source of our trouble. Then our pain can open a door. Thus the sexual healing journey begins.
Common Situations of Survivors
Let's first take a look at four common situations survivors may find themselves in when they realize they are facing a significant sexual issue. Consider whether any of them apply to your own life.
____I'm acting in strange ways that don't make sense.
____My sexual problem isn't getting any better.
____My partner is hurting.
____New circumstances have made me more aware.
"I'm acting in strange ways that don't make sense"
Sexual issues can surface when we begin acting in strange ways that we can't deny and don't understand...The Sexual Healing Journey. Copyright � by Wendy Maltz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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