Are we all sexually traumatized? This is a question I have been thinking for a while, and my personal answer is yes. I do not think one can make it to adulthood without having any sexual trauma.
Now what is trauma? According to American Psychological Association (APA) trauma is "is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea."Now when we think of sexual trauma, we usually think of sexual violence such as assault, rape or abuse.
Which we know has an impact on our sexuality, spirituality, mental and physical health.
However, we are less likely to think of situations that do not fall under these definitions as a sexually traumatizing experience.
Sexual choices that we make today are impacted by the experience of the past. And not only experiences directly connected to sex itself.
Here are 3 common sexual traumas everyone likely to experience, but not likely to work on.
1. RELIGIOUS TRAUMA
Religions of the world, spiritual paths and life philosophies certainly impacted they way we experience our sexuality. It surely is a broader topic to cover, but to focus on the impact most of the disciplines have certain ways they treat sexuality. Some of us grew up hearing "sex only inside of marriage", "God says sex is dirty", "pleasure is sin", "homosexuality is wrong", "celibacy is the path to pureness and spirituality" and so on. Now I am not diminishing any values of any statements and personal beliefs, what I am saying is that many of us grew up being surrounded by certain teachings. That impacted our emotional and physical responses we make today. Things I hear from my clients are "I cannot relax, every time I am having sex I think God hates me"; "I feel I need to choose God or my partner"; " I choose to focus on my spirituality so I stopped having sex"; "I am afraid God will not accept me"and more. In these situations people feel disempowered, they feel they have no choice, and are going through emotional pain not being able to create connection and trust with their partners.
2. SEXUAL LANGUAGE TRAUMA
If you look at the use of sexual vocabulary, you may see that words that we choose to call our body parts or sexual acts also are used as curse words and hold negative connotations. Such as "dick", "pussy", "asshole" "cunt" "fuck", using that language daily we miss that it encodes in our brain activity that things related to sexuality are dirty, bad, negative. Now we also have medical terms like "penis", "vagina", but apparently only appropriate place to use them is doctors office. Usually we are expected not to shout out loud at the lunch table: hey, how is your vagina doing? or hey did you try that new lubricant for penis massage?
Another aspect of language is that we are tough to have certain secrecy when it comes to sexuality, causing us to encode in our heads that if there is a secrecy it must be shameful. If I cannot speak about my sex organs, must be something is wrong.
3. BODY IMAGE TRAUMA
I have not yet worked or met woman who always was comfortable in her body. Inside of these daily conversations we create chain of beliefs that impact our sexual comfort and sexual choices. Body image trauma comes from outside conditions such as media, families, certain experiences in life. It is common to sexual body image trauma to have experiences such as: "I was in 8th grade when she came to me and said I am fat and ugly", "my father always kept making these jokes that I am chubby and fat", "all these boys in the shower just had bigger dicks and I was so confused", "all women in my family have bigger breasts I felt like ugly duck", "I hate oral sex, all I can think of is how do I smell now" "I will never look like these people in porn" and so on.
We all have heard certain things while growing up, we hear things daily now either they are directed to us or not we still hear them, we are seeing things on the daily basis, having direct experiences in the past that have effected our sexual experiences in the present. All those "small things" have us operating from fear of abandonment, fear of not being liked, shame, disconnect, causing us not being able to experience pleasure, relaxation, relationship, fullness and passion of life. Each of us have own sexual philosophies to look into. And we always can discover ideas that are stopping us from authentic and juicy sexual lives.
What you can do?
Journal about our inner sexual beliefs
Look into your sexual history
Connect to your personal sexual context
Seek professional help if you see that your choices are not serving you
Have discussion and conversations with others
Keep doing the work =)