What is trauma?

In short, trauma is any negative impactful event that has shifted your perception of the world. Trauma can make it extremely difficult to maintain relationships as it forces us to constantly remain in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Feeling constantly on edge and that you need to be on high alert at all times makes it extremely difficult to trust another person. Trauma looks different for every individual. It can result from a variety of experiences including sexual abuse, physical and verbal abuse, natural disasters, loss of a loved one, and many more. Most people experience some form of trauma during their lives, and it can impact all of us differently. Consider the following questions:

  • Have you ever experienced any physical or sexual abuse?
  • Have you ever experienced an event that changed the way you view the world?
  • Have you ever experienced any verbal or emotional abuse?
  • Have you ever experienced an event that made you feel like you were a different person after it happened?

If you answered yes, there is a likely chance you have experienced trauma in your life.

How does trauma impact intimacy?

Many people gravitate towards the idea that sexual trauma creates problems towards intimacy and sexual activity. While this can certainly be true, sexual trauma alone is not the only form of trauma which creates this issue. ANY form of trauma creates a feeling of unsafety, insecurity, and at times even panic. This shows up in various forms including:

  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Always looking for the nearest exit
  • Fearful of non-sexual touch
  • Irritability
  • Inability to express feelings
  • Avoidance

If we have experienced an event that makes us feel unsafe, reduces our sexual desire, creates panic, and literally makes our skin crawl when touched, it makes it seem impossible to have any form of intimacy or physical contact with our partner. This can be extremely damaging to relationships and often prevent us from moving forward.

How can I achieve intimacy with my partner after experiencing trauma?

Achieving intimacy after experiencing trauma can be a slow and gradual process. It is important to remember that healing is not always linear in these cases, and it takes time. Rebuilding your connection between your mind and body can help improve feelings of control and agency. Some additional ways to do this include:

  • Yoga (improve mind and body connection)
  • Professional massage
  • Non-sexual touch (foot rubs, back massage, hand rubs from partner)
  • Karata/martial arts
  • Support/peer groups
  • Therapy

If you or someone close to you has experienced a traumatic event, give us a call. A skilled therapist can work with you as you learn to take back control of your life. GR Therapy Group is ready to help you take the next step in recovery. Give us a call today at (616) 591-9000 and come experience the difference.

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