Have you been the victim of a sexual assault that has inhibited your ability to enjoy yourself sexually? If so, you are part of a large group of women. According to RAINN, (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8 percent completed, 2.8 percent attempted).
I believe RAINN’s statistics are low, or at least they don’t describe the depth and breadth of what I see in my office.
And RAINN’s statistics don’t count the microaggressions all younger women experience on the street, on public transportation, and at work — and they don’t count being sexually harassed.
After experiencing aggressive assaults, some women are plagued with flashbacks or lingering anxiety, causing a fight-or-flight reaction when an event that triggers the old fear feelings occurs.
Lingering feelings of danger can even prevent women from being able to relax and enjoy sex with trusted partners.
One great strategy for overcoming those feelings of fear or helplessness is for women to take a self-defense course. I highly recommend courses run through a group called IMPACT, which is a personal safety, assertiveness, and self-defense training program. They teach through role playing of realistic scenarios, using techniques that are voice-based and others that use full physical force.
IMPACT courses address the fact that the majority of sexual assaults and other violations are committed by people close to the person who has been assaulted — often family members or dating partners.
IMPACT courses are available in some parts of America, not everywhere. But if you live somewhere where there are no IMPACT courses, it’s worth looking up their website. It will help you evaluate the programs that are available to you locally.
As one of my patients said, “It was very empowering to be in a circle of women who revealed that they had [suffered] different kinds of assault. Plus, the skills that they taught were very powerful. I was amazed that after I took the weekend program, my feelings of desire for my husband were stronger, and my arousal lasted longer than usual. He was astounded when I came home from the class and literally jumped him.”
I have no relationship with IMPACT. I’m recommending them because I want people who have experienced trauma to have knowledge of any excellent services that can help overcome residual suffering.
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