Need help getting my groove back

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I need help to get back my sex drive. I am a 60-year-old survivor of domestic violence trying desperately to come to grips with fear of sex and intimacy.

Low sexual desire can result from past traumatic events including sexual abuse. For women, being in a relationship that is physically and emotionally abusive may make maintaining a healthy appetite for intimacy almost impossible.

To be on the receiving end of continuous insults and physical blows can make the woman feel a sense of humiliation and anger, and she may be less inclined to romantically and sexually engage with her abusive partner. After a while she may build up resentment towards her partner and, by extension, reluctance to engage in sexual intercourse, as she will associate sex with distress. She then becomes very indifferent and emotionless towards the act. Some women have even become very averse to any semblance of intimacy.

So it is not unusual for you to lose your sex drive in a toxic relationship in which your self-esteem has been shattered. The good thing is that you seem to have survived the intimate partner violence and want to rekindle the passion you once had for sexual relations. This is a positive sign and suggests that you are healing from the emotional turmoil of the past and now want to enjoy your life again.

It is important that you do not jump into a new relationship without first taking personal time to engage in self-esteem building and be at the place psychologically where you feel good about yourself.

The new partner must be patient and understanding and be prepared to help you regain sexual interest by taking it slow and moving at your pace and state of readiness.

The goal should not be sexual penetration, but emotional connection where you will regain a sense of security and vulnerability. So spend more bonding with the individual and just enjoy each other's company and presence.

Provided that you are not on any medication that affects your sexual desire, and you don't have any unresolved psychological issues or medical problems, your sex drive should return and you will be able to give yourself permission to fully enjoy the sexual experience. Remember, anxiety can make matters worse, so just relax and let it happen naturally. All the best.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/ .

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