We are haunted by past sexual abuse

-- Question for John --

My love and I have been together going on to 3 years. We are haunted by past sexual abuse. My girlfriend as a child was molested. Her following relationships consisted of unwanted sex and when she was married she believed it was a duty to perform. Once after the marriage she was used once again by someone else. Then came me. Everything seemed OK during the “honeymoon stage” but then things changed.

She has no emotional ties in sex. Its just “sex”. She believe that I cannot love her without “sex”. Which in fact I really do. I do not want her to feel this way and she does not want to feel this way but by the way she has been done her entire life that is how it is in her head.

We fully trust and are totally committed to each other. We share our thoughts and dreams, and really want to grow and experience life together for the rest of our lives.

Now for the big finale…..after a huge discussion after a romantic vacation to the islands the only way she feels that she can actually heal sexually and feel the emotions involved is basically to start all over in her experiences. As terrified as she was to ask this, she asked me for a time to “heal” which was fine… I’ve been giving her long spans of time between our sexual intimacies anywhere from 4-8 weeks at a time.

Only that is not long enough. She has asked me for 1, 2, to (as she said-God forbid) 3 years of healing time. This as she told me is a small price to pay for a lifetime of happiness afterward. She believes that this could make a major impact on how she views sex and will help her feel more of the “making love” definition.

Now I ask, how in the world is someone with a healthy sex drive as myself suppose to do this? Her request has pulled me in and out of depression and I am handling it the best that I can. Sex is very satisfying between the both of us and she really likes it whenever its in the “process”, but afterwards she feels guilt and feels dirty for enjoying such a high. The real problem lies in a emotional issue in her head. We have read a book for survivors of sexual abuse and it gives details for sexual healing in 3 months to a year… but 2-3 years? How can I cope with that? I need advice, I am willing to try to do this for her but I need some advice or any helpful hints to make it easier on the both of us.

-- Answer from John --

What your beloved is asking for is clear and understandable. You of course have the choice to accept or decline. You have to look within yourself to see if you can do this. You may need to get support and help if you choose to accept. It is not easy and I completely understand that it can be bringing up depressive episodes.

In working with clients with a similar issue, I have generally found that they can get through it in about a year. There are aftereffects and so forth to deal with. But all can be handled if you approach it the right way. Accepting the request and honoring it helps the healing process for the person making such a big request. And although they have no sense of how long it may take, this acceptance is such a big thing that it actually reduces the time.

I do not know if it will take more than a year for the two of you. This will probably depend on the quality of help each of you gets to support the journey to healing. My basic advice is to find good counselors to work with. Going through a book like “Courage to Heal” and its workbook are great ideas. But bottom-line here, don’t skimp on your lives. Invest some time and money by lining up some good counseling help.

From experience I know that this healing journey is possible. It can be done. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of it. So get good help.