Writing about a complex problem in a healthy way is very tricky.
And I’m having that problem right now when it comes to trauma & sex.
Today’s Thanksgiving, so I’m quite aware that the majority of my American readers will be ignoring me today! That’s okay. That’s also why I’m not doing a podcast today. Sometimes we all need a day off to enjoy each other!
But for Americans who have time to be online, or for the rest of us Canadians and all of the Aussies and Kiwis and Brits and Kenyans and others who join me, I thought rather than write a post today I’d ask you all for some input.
Last week I tried to address a problem where a woman who has been sexually traumatized earlier in her life has turned off of sex for good. How can we give a healthy message to her? I’ve written before about the need to go to trauma-informed licensed counselors, not just biblical counselors, because people with trauma need to be treated, not just told they have a spiritual defect.
And so I tried to handle this well. My take was that the first step was some serious counseling, but then that also I would encourage her to try to see sex in a positive way, even if she doesn’t believe it or feel it right now. Get her head lined up with truth. You don’t have to be there yet; you don’t have to understand how you can get there. But at least make that your goal. So get treatment, but also have a healthy goal.
However, some commenters thought that was too much.
I just don’t know what to think. I’ve been through trauma of my own, though not as severe as this woman’s. And my concern is that I don’t want people trapped there. I know it’s horrendous, but I want to point to a way out.
But is that too much for some people? Does trauma so affect you that you can’t even try to think positive messages? And if we believed that, then is healing even possible?
I’ve been hearing so much about the book The Body Keeps the Score lately, and I really want to read it (it’s on my Amazon wish list!). (That link is there because my husband reads my blog *cough* *cough*). I really do want to understand how trauma works.
And so now I’d like to know from you all–was I too cavalier about recovery from sexual trauma? Is it wrong to ask trauma victims to try to see truth, even if it’s difficult? What is the right way to talk about this stuff? I really want to do it right, because I want to both:
- Truly help and empathize with those who are hurting
- Point them to a way out so they’re not stuck
And I don’t always know how to do both at the same time. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear them!
(And Happy Thanksgiving for my American friends!)
UPDATE: I’m getting some GREAT feedback in the comments section! I so appreciate it. I’ve copied and pasted a bunch into new blog post drafts. But one question I’m still stumped with, which I keep asking in the comments but it might help to ask here so everyone sees it, is what do you say to the SPOUSE in this scenario? Like let’s say you’re married to someone who has been through trauma, and doesn’t want to work on healing or get counseling and is content to live in a sexless marriage. In fact, even imagine that trauma survivor is male, not female, to take gender dynamics out of the equation (and also because I do get a lot of questions from women married to men in this situations). Does that spouse’s feelings matter? Obviously trauma takes precedence, but what can we do for that spouse? What if they’re really lonely and hurting, too? I’m not trying to put the spouse’s feelings as more important, but I get so many, many questions like this, and it’s hard.
I get very, very few from people whose spouses are going to counseling. It’s the ones where the spouse just simply refuses to deal with the trauma. Then what? I’d really appreciate any help you all have!