Unresolved Trauma and Relationships

March 9th, 2010

couples counseling traumaDo you have a hard time trusting?  Do you find intimacy threatening?  Do you run from a relationship before it gets too serious?  If so, you’re not alone.  These are some of the difficulties survivors of abuse, sexual assault, rape and molestation report.  Not all survivors, of course, but enough to were it’s recognizable.

Unresolved trauma can make it difficult for folks to be in relationships.  When you’ve experienced one of the greatest violations of trust, it makes good sense that your response to someone wanting to be close would be to flee.  That’s called “self-protection.”  The problem is that protecting yourself this way also prevents you from being in a loving, caring relationship.

One way I’ve helped folks overcome this conditioning is to identify it, accept it without judgement, and challenge the behavior when it comes up.  For example, I worked with a man who thought that the woman he was dating was great.  However, he kept wanting to break-up.  The intimacy was terribly difficult.  He kept thinking that she would hurt him.  With a close eye to his past experience and gentle approach with himself, he understood that this was a legacy of sexual trauma from his childhood.  He was then able to take it slowly and continue with the relationship.  While he ultimately found that she wasn’t the right person for him, he still felt good that he discovered that on his own terms…not based on the fears stemming from sexual abuse.

If this sounds familiar to you, perhaps it’s time to engage in couples counseling or individual therapy.  For more information on my services in Washington, DC, call me at 202/460-6384 or email me at mike.giordano.msw@gmail.com.

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