Fighting the Pain of Sexual Abuse Through Counseling

As a young child, I was sexually abused by a family friend. This thoughtless, abusive act has forever changed my life. It has not just changed who I am but how I see things, how I view myself, how I make decisions and how I live my life. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I have struggled with self-esteem and anger issues, trusting others, accepting help from others, self-injurious behavior and a host of other issues which I can directly connect with my abuse as a child.

For many years, I have attended therapy and have cycled through a number of different therapists and counselors. It is not that each of my counselors or therapists was not good as what they did. On the contrary, each professional with whom I worked in regard to my experience played an important role in my healing process. Each one, in some way, affected me positively in my continuing recovery.

My journey through counseling is not yet over, in fact, it is just at its beginning stages. For many years, I have attended individual counseling. In individual counseling, I have learned to discuss my fears and other emotions, understand where my underlying issues originate and how to control my emotions and avoid potentially dangerous situations. I have also attended group counseling which offers a dynamic like no other I have found in any of my other therapy. In group therapy, I associated with and found friends in other survivors and created a kinship that cannot be created in any other way than to have experienced similar situations. I learned new coping skills from other survivors and gained a sense of empowerment from the strong group of survivors with whom I attended the group.

As I have, you too can heal from your sexual abuse experience(s) with the assistance of sexual abuse counseling. Through counseling, you will learn new ways to deal with your experience and learn to love yourself for who you are. You will learn that the abuse was not and is not your fault because it is not. You can gain a healthier self-esteem and self-understanding. If you have been sexually abused, counseling can help!

How Does Sexual Functioning Change As We Age?

Aging leads to changes in bodily appearance and organ functioning, lower levels of pituitary hormones, and a higher incidence of illness, injury, disease and chronic pain involving multiple prescriptions for pharmaceutical medications. These bodily changes, along with emotionally stressful life events, e.g., retirement, empty nest, loss of partner, or caring for elderly parents, may adversely affect sexual functioning.

Women

As women enter menopause, no longer ovulate, and their estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels drop, many experience decreased desire for and arousal during sexual activity combined with less powerful orgasms or even inability to attain orgasm. Physiologic changes may include:

o decreased lubrication leading to vaginal dryness and pain
o atrophy or expansion of vaginal tissues
o decreased elevation of the uterus
o reduced muscle tension with few orgasmic contractions
o rapid decrease in arousal after orgasm
o reduced spread of sex flush
o decreased sexual desire and arousal

Men

As males age, decreased testosterone and testicular function, lowered sperm count, enlarged prostate, and reduced muscle tension often cause men to require greater stimulation to become aroused, have less frequent and more easily diminished arousal, decreased sensation, less powerful orgasms, and becoming tired or exhausted for some time after orgasm and ejaculation. Physiologic changes include:

o delayed and less firm penile and nipple erection
o longer excitement phase and longer interval until ejaculation
o decreased pre ejaulatory emissions
o diminished lifting of scrotum and testes
o more rapid return to pre arousal state
o shorter ejaculation time with reduced volume and fewer contractions
o shortened phase of impending orgasm and expulsion of semen
o more rapid loss of erection and longer refractory period

How Can Sexual Functioning and Enjoyment Continue Throughout Life?

As we age, there are some gradual declines in the response rate and reactions of many of our bodily organs and tissues. However, our bodies continue to respond to stimulation as long as we are breathing, our brain is functioning normally, and our heart is pumping.
Having a sexual problem is not unlike having any other type of physical or emotional problem. There is a cause, either physiological, psychological, or a combination of both.

Recommendations for Treatment to Overcome Sexual Problem

o Make an appointment with the appropriate medical doctor to have an evaluation of your physiology: hormone levels, blood vessels, blood flow, acute or chronic infections or other diseases. Depending on your gender and what the specific problem is, you may choose to see a gynecologist, urologist, endocrinologist, internist, gastroenterologist, oncologist, etc.

o Make an appointment with the appropriate psychotherapist (preferably someone who is also certified to provide sexual counseling or sex therapy) for evaluation of your psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual state. Depending on what you believe is the primary issue (your relationship, your family situation, your own self image or sexual concerns, your own religious or spiritual conflicts), you may choose to see a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Mental Health Counselor or Professional Counselor, a Social Worker, or a Psychologist.

o If your mental and emotional concerns are severely interfering with your ability to function in your everyday life, you probably should consult with a psychiatrist who can evaluate you and provide appropriate medications to alleviate your overwhelming symptoms. Then, you may be better able to gain insight and the capability of overcoming your problems if you also work with a psychotherapist.

o If you are courageous and really want to overcome a long term physical problem (such as a woman having vaginal pain or vaginnismus), you may choose to see a physical therapist who is trained to work with pelvic floor dysfunctions.

o Work with a body therapist, someone who is trained to alleviate neuromuscular tensions and other body dysfunctions. You may be surprised how many physical problems in distant parts of your body are related to your current sexual problem.

Test Love Compatibility – Physical and Emotional Sexuality Method

One of the most powerful and useful tools to test love compatibility was developed as part of Physical and Emotional Suggestibility and Sexuality Theory, first introduced by John G. Kappas, Ph.D. in 1975. It was based on 30 years of clinical investigation and extensive research. Dr. Kappas became famous for his results predicting behavior and resolving relationship problems using this theory.

In the conventional view of behavior, popularized by John Gray in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, men behave one way, women another. This view underlies the approach most therapists use to counsel couples.

In his practice as a marriage and family therapist, Dr. Kappas discovered that two other patterns of behavior existed that offered a better context for couples therapy. He identified the patterns as Physical Sexuality and Emotional Sexuality. Both men and women exhibit both patterns. It seems that some men and women are from Mars, some from Venus.

The behavior traits exhibited in Physical Sexuality and Emotional Sexuality are quite different. For example, take a look at the patterns with respect to just a few traits.

A Physical Sexual person tends to be openly and abundantly affectionate. He is outgoing, comfortable in groups, and enjoys calling attention to his physical body. When rejected, he tries harder. He views sex as an integral expression of loving and being loved. He tends to be available for sex anytime and enjoys prolonging sexual expression to maximize the feelings of love and acceptance.

In sharp contrast, an Emotional Sexual person tends to be uncomfortable with open affection, prefers intimate interactions with one or two people, and is uncomfortable calling attention to his body. When rejected, he withdraws. He views sex as a means of release quite separate from love. He tends to desire sex on a cycle, such as every three days. On a cycle day, he experiences complete release in one sexual event. On off days, he may not find sexual expression or physical touch pleasant.

The behavior traits of Physical and Emotional Sexuality are so distinctly different, it is not hard to understand why people of opposite Sexuality have difficulty interacting, much as a dog and a cat have trouble interacting.

People tend to exhibit behavior traits from both Physical and Emotional Sexuality patterns, though one pattern or the other dominates. To measure both Sexuality and the percent dominance, Dr. Kappas created the Physical and Emotional Sexuality Questionnaires and developed a statistical scoring system. On these tests, a person may score from 55-95% Physical Sexuality, or 55-95% Emotional Sexuality.

A person of 95% dominance in either Sexuality will exhibit that behavior exclusively. A person of 55% dominance in either Sexuality will exhibit almost as many traits of the opposite Sexuality as his own. Knowing a person’s Sexuality score, consequently, is quite useful in predicting his behavior.

In predicting relationship behavior, the Physical and Emotional Sexuality score is even more enlightening. In an ironic twist of nature, for long term intimate relationships, a person chooses a person of opposite Sexuality with the same degree of dominance.

A 95% Physical Sexual will partner with a 95% Emotional Sexual. This couple, like the dog and cat, will experience difficulty interacting as their behavior traits are so different. You might suspect that they are incompatible as a couple. Ironically, their sexual chemistry is explosive. Their strong physical attraction may keep them together but their conflicts and misunderstandings will be many.

Low scorers on the Physical and Emotional Sexuality scale also have difficulty. They will experience few problems interacting outside the bedroom as their behavior traits are similar. Sexual chemistry, however, is weak to nonexistent. Their ability to get along may keep them together but sexual disappointment may also lead to conflict and misunderstandings. Moderate scorers relate best on every level.

As a rule of thumb in Physical and Emotional Sexuality, when people of opposite Sexuality relate, the more extreme the opposite, the more intense the sexual attraction and the greater the problems in all other aspects of the relationship. It seems Mother Nature had her own ideas about relationship compatibility.

Sexuality patterns cannot be changed. Knowledge of Physical and Emotional Sexuality is the best means to improve understanding of yourself, your partner, and the problems you have. It is the most powerful and most useful tool to help couples quickly identify relationship issues and resolve them. It can be used effectively in counseling or as a self help measure.

Despite the broad benefits of Physical and Emotional Sexuality, it is not widely practiced. Since its introduction, numerous new theories and techniques, such a Neurolinguistic Programming and Rational Emotive Therapy, have emerged. These, together with the flood of self help methodologies, compete for a place in professional training and practice. No one methodology is standard in relationship counseling today. For relationship questions, however, no other method gets better results when it is time to test love compatibility.