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Intimacy Advice Article

Intimacy Advice for Men: Help When Your Woman is a Survivor of Sexual Abuse or Rape

By Otto Collins

Unfortunately, there are many adults-- both women and men-- who have experienced trauma in their lives such as sexual abuse or rape.  Nobody enjoys talking about this topic, but it's a very important one.

When your partner is a survivor of some form of trauma like rape, incest or childhood sexual abuse, it is highly likely that this painful past has had some effect on intimacy in your marriage.

It might come out in the bedroom as she has a difficult time getting in the mood as often as you'd like her to. It could be that there are specific sexual positions or acts that your partner feels uncomfortable or even unsafe doing.

Even outside the bedroom, you might feel as if your woman holds back or gets upset about things that don't make sense to you.

These are all possibly very related to the abuse or rape she experienced years ago.

You may be at a loss for how to say and do the "right" things that will not trigger your woman...and that will keep you two close and passion alive in your marriage.

Kevin feels angry and sad when he thinks about what his wife, Ellen, went through as a child. A neighbor, and friend of her father, molested her several times when she was a young girl.

Ellen has had sessions with a psychologist and she continues to work to heal from this past trauma.

But, when they are making love or when Kevin asks her to make love, Ellen will frequently become upset and emotionally "shut down."

Kevin tries to be patient, but he does not know how best to support her during these difficult times. He feels as if he can't touch Ellen-- even non-sexually-- because he doesn't know how she'll react.

Consequently, Kevin mostly lets Ellen come to him when she is open to his touch and sex.

This isn't working either-- Kevin feels as if he can't be open with her about his intimacy needs and Ellen often feels neglected and unloved by him because he doesn't initiate touching and sex.

It feels like a no-win situation to both Kevin and Ellen.

3 ways to keep passion and intimacy alive, even when your wife is a rape or abuse survivor:

#1: Don't take it personally.
I know, this is a tough piece of advice to actually do in the moment.

When you are feeling turned on and ready for sex and you reach out to your woman only to be turned away (and it's not the first time this has happened), it can be challenging to not take it personally.

As much as you tell yourself that this is about your partner's past and it's not about can easily FEEL like it's about you and that she's rejecting you.

It might take practice, so keep trying this. When you approach your wife, try not to have an expectation that she will reject you.

If she does say "no" to sex with you, remind yourself that this is not a rejection of you.

If you have doubts about whether or not she is rejecting you, it's okay to gently ask her to share with you about what she's feeling.

Even some simple and reassuring words from her that tell you that she loves you and that she's processing some difficult memories right now could help you know that this is not about you.

#2: Be honest.
Some men who are with a partner who is an abuse or rape survivor get into the habit of stuffing down their desires and how they truly feel in order to avoid upsetting their woman.

This is not beneficial to either of you.

Acknowledge to yourself how you are feeling and what your needs are. Don't shut down or assume that your woman will never be as sexual with you as you'd like her to be.

Be honest with yourself about where you are right now-- including the thoughts and feelings that are coming up for you.

If you need to talk with a trusted friend just to express these emotions or a counselor to learn some strategies that can help your marriage, make the time to do so.

#3: Keep talking and connecting.
It doesn't have to be a "guilt trip" for you to be honest and upfront with your woman about both your feelings and your desires.

You can be gentle and loving as you let her know that this is difficult for you too-- just in different ways.

Make it clear to her that you never want her to feel pressured to have sex or be intimate with you AND that you would like to keep the communication and connection between you two alive and well.

Together, the two of you can talk about creative and new ways for you to stay intimately connected.

Come up with some alternatives to sex that you will try when she is feeling triggered but you are needing some physical connection.

Before of during sex, you can communicate with her about what feels good and what she might want to change. You can also let her know what you prefer when it comes to lovemaking.

Remember, in order to keep (sexual and non-sexual) intimacy alive, it's essential that you make staying connected and keeping communication open a priority all of the time...not just when you are ready for sex.
Otto Collins teaches men the secrets to lighting up their woman and offers a free report: "The 10 Biggest Relationship & Passion-Killing Mistakes Men Make and What To Do About Them" when  you sign up for his FREE relationship advice newsletter for men at


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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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