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Rebuilding Intimacy When Your Partner Suffers Post Rape Syndrome

 
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Post rape syndrome is a very special form of post traumatic stress disorder. It can also be classified as a unique sexual disorder. A person’s sex drive is mentally, emotionally, and physically affected by sexual abuse.

So if your partner is suffering post rape syndrome… what can you do to rebuild the intimacy?

Your partner’s sexual health is at risk, and so is your relationship. This can happen sometimes if a partner was raped recently, but is just as common (if not more so) if there was sexual abuse in your partners past. The symptoms of Post Rape Syndrome rarely show up immediately.

You may be wondering “why is it bothering them now when it happened so long ago?” and this is a good question, but difficult to ask because you don’t want to challenge the validity of those emotions. However, keeping this to yourself may cause you to blame yourself and wonder if the problem might actually be you.

So there is relief in knowing that, when your partner suffers post rape syndrome, their lack of interest in sex has nothing to do with you. More importantly, there are things you can do to help rebuild the intimacy in your relationship.

It is very important to know that everybody has a different situation and there is no cookie cutter approach to recovery. If your partner was recently raped, and has completely withdrawn, your own sexual needs will need to wait. You will need to encourage your partner to go into counseling. The worst thing you can do is prioritize the recovery of her sexuality over the more important parts of her.

On the other hand, if she has begun to show the symptoms of post rape syndrome over sexual abuse in her past, you should feel grateful that she has found the comfort she needs (being with you) to finally let these emotions come out. It may be difficult to be happy if your partner is withdrawn, including sexually, but it means your partner is ready to not suffer any longer. And you can help.

Encourage Counseling

Unless you are a counselor trained in sexual disorders or PTSD, there is probably little you can do right in terms of responding well.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

About a month ago, my wife of almost three years broke down and admitted to me that about four years ago she was raped by an ex boyfriend. Up until that point, our sex life was pretty much nonexistent (we'd still do other things, trading sexual favors, oral sex, what have you) but the very few times we would have sex it would be awkward (me being a virgin up until marrying her), painful for her (which I didn't exactly understand at the time as I'm somewhat not so well endowed), and very quick (once she more or less seemed to submit and take it, I would be done relatively quickly with pain faces and a slight overall look of sadness from her) at the time all of those problems were extremely confusing for me as I thought it was all simply part of the process to a normal sexual relationship and I feel horrible thinking back at what she must have gone throughis just to make me happy. Since she's told me, we've talked about it, I've read a lot of articles to try and do what I can to make her feel better about this, we're currently in the process of finding a good counselor to talk to but it seems to me that even though she says she wants to get past this and has gone along with seeing a couple people about it (none of them really helped but we're both new to this process as well) but it seems like she doesn't want to do anything about it. She's always been that way, shy and timid and most things we want I have to initiate otherwise she never would. I'm trying to balance my wanting of her to feel comfortable by not pushing her towards anything but I'm scared that if I just leave it up to her that she'll never take initiative and we'll be doomed to being affected by what happened to her forever. All I want is for her to break free from that affect her ex put on her life (which pops up more minutely in other areas of her life, I believe but most predominately in our sexual life. It also doesn't help that I feel horribly inadequate, I've already got a small member, and the fact that I can't please my wife with anything but my hand is depressing... sorry about the rant. This is a very confusing time in our life.

February 23, 2015 - 4:29pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

As a victim of child molestation, rape and numerous uncomfortable encounters, this article a very insightful guide for those with partners suffering from post rape. Being so emotionally disconnected from myself, I am astonished this article actually put into words what my boundaries should be. I am currently on the road to recovery with the help my boyfriend, who has been very understanding (in his own way, I suppose), but it hasn't come without a much pain, guilt and sometimes feelings of hopelessness. Though he knows my history, he is far from understanding how my past has influenced my feelings toward sex - he even asked me yesterday if I was a lesbian due to my lack of interest to initiate sex and show passion in bed. I have read a few articles to try and grasp my sexual issues and learn to cope with my past, but this article offers great insight as to the actions of a partner that are and are not conducive to recovery. My piece of advise as someone who is recovering from his/her past not mentioned in this article is to never put a timeline to recovery on your partner - it is unnecessary stress. As someone who is attempting to sexually recover from my past, it is a mentally and emotionally draining process reconciling our feelings and trying to make you fit into our disturbed lives at the same time.

February 19, 2015 - 6:00pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This is a very informative article to understand the perspective of a spouse who has suffered sexual abuse in the past. However, I would have to say it is not complete. It assumes that the only reason a man wants to be intimate is the physical pleasure with comments about excusing yourself to go to the bathroom. Most men who love their wives want to be intimate with their wife because it is a way of feeling close to the woman they love. It is an emotional need more than a physical one. Essentially, the advice here can be summed up as saying forget any and all of your emotional needs if you love her. I don't believe that is healthy for anyone. Especially since PTSD is also often accompanied with other symptoms like quick temper or angry outbursts. In order to give sustained support to a partner, one needs to feel that there is something to fight for. If all you get in return is anger and denial, it won't last for long. I strongly suggest a counselor for both individuals. It can be the same counselor, but you shouldn't go together at first so that both are free to express their feelings.

August 29, 2011 - 12:40pm
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