4 Ways To Make Sex Feel Safe Again When You Suffer From PTSD

Photo: weheartit
How To Feel Safe Having Hot Sex When You Suffer From PTSD And Anxiety

You deserve a happy sex life.

When you live with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even things that used to seem easy and fun for you can become landmines. Identifying and learning how to cope with your triggers is just one of the difficult components involved in taking back your sense of control over your life after experiencing a severe form of trauma. For men and women whose PTSD is the result of sexual violence, the challenges presented to your consensual, romantic sex life are vast.

After all, sex is supposed to be intimate, healing, and fun.

It should be a release, not a catalyst for the live bomb you feel certain could go off in your life at any given moment.

RELATED: What It Feels Like Being A Woman Trapped In A Brain With PTSD

While experimenting with various sexual activities and positions is a piece of advice regularly offered to couples seeking new ways to bond with and enjoy each other, like it or not, what might be healthy and fun experimentation for others could in some way trigger associations with trauma for survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

So while we could never create one specific list of sexy positions or ideas that would guarantee hotter, more passionate sex for everyone with PTSD, there are things you and your partner can both take into account in order to make your sexual experiences feel safer, more relaxing, and, therefore, more pleasurable.

So if you or your partner suffers from PTSD that gets during sex, try these four tips to make any sex position you choose better.

1. Choose sex positions you know you like and feel comfortable with.

There's no magic sex position that will put an end to the unwanted defense mechanisms your brain has put in place to help you cope with the trauma you experienced. I wish it were that simple. I ache for it to be that simple. But while it's not, there are ways you can learn to enjoy yourself again and start feeling less afraid of sexual touch. Primary among these is making sure that when you do have sex, you do so in positions that feel comfortable for YOU.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • "Do I like this position?"
  • "Is this bringing me pleasure?"
  • "Do I feel safe?"

Then be sure to communicate what you learn with your partner, and to keep those lines of communication open at all time.

2. Consider your environment.

When you are having sex and you have PTSD it isn't just the sex position itself that's going to potentially prove to be triggering. It could be that you aren't reacting to the sex position at all, but to other triggering factors that bring up memories of your trauma.

How does your partner smell? What is the light in the room like? What room are you in? What's hanging on the walls? Identifying things in the space where you want to be having sex that could be reminding you of your point of trauma is a great way to identify and eliminate potential triggers before you even attempt a sexual encounter.

While changing where you are and how things look isn't going to heal you overnight, it is going to make it easier for you to connect with your partner sexually again and that's one big step when it comes to recovering from PTSD.

RELATED: You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

3. Focus on your partner.

Being present and doing your best to be in the moment with your partner when you are having sex is going to be key. So if having sex in a position where you can make eye contact is comfortable for you, go for it. Keep your eyes open and ask your partner to do the same.

When your eyes are open it is easier for you to be with your partner instead of within memories of your own trauma. Eye contact alone doesn't have to be the only way the two of you maintain an intimate connection during sex. Focus on your partner's touch, on what makes it different, on how it makes you feel. The important thing is to create a dynamic where you feel safe and supported.

4. Be mindful of the potential for disassociation.

Disassociation is a common occurrence in sufferers of PTSD, especially when it comes to sexual trauma. Victims sometimes block out what is happening to them as a coping mechanism, and sometimes when the trauma is rooted in sex, moments of disassociation can arise involuntarily even when you are with someone you love and trust.

Being in control during your sexual encounters can help you be aware of it should you begin to consciously or unconsciously disassociate. Sex positions where you are on top of him or her, or foreplay that includes some elements of BDSM where you are in control can be another way of taking back the power that was taken away from you.

No one should ever experience something as fundamental as their ability to connect with another person sexually stripped away from them due to violence and abuse.

You have been through a fire, and you're still walking through it. Never for a minute doubt that you can do this and, more importantly, that you deserve a happy life in every way. You made it this far, and I have no doubt that you will win back your fullest life.

RELATED: 9 Sex Positions That Help You Fall In Love (Yes, Really!)

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:20 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.