5 dating advice for women who have survived sexual assault
Sexual assault is one of the most traumatic experiences a woman can go through. It damages her for life. It makes her distrustful of men and people generally.
Some survivors of sexual assault may think that the trauma is long behind them but the scary truth is there’s no expiration date for sexual assault trauma.
These victims may discover that after many years, the experience is still haunting. Recovering from sexual abuse is difficult, especially if survivors don’t have access to professional guidance along the journey to healing.
Those recovering from sexual trauma feel tension between a fear of intimacy and a deep longing to feel fully embraced in intimate relationships.
While we always talk about having good relationships and share tips about relationships, attention should be paid to women who are going back to the dating scene after being sexually assaulted.
These women have been through a lot and should be encouraged to heal and find love again. It can be difficult for these women to navigate the beginning stages of a relationship when they struggle with trust or being in a space with a stranger.
While there may be some dating challenges for these women, it is totally possible for them to enjoy dating–but they have to be patient with themselves and go through the slow process of healing.
A few therapists spoke to HuffPo about tips for women who are dating again after surviving sexual assault.
Healing is a journey
One day, you may feel great about using dating apps and dipping your toe into the single’s pool again. Other days, you may want to curl up in bed and not be bothered. Each state of being is understandable and should be honored.
“It’s fine for your needs to change,” Megan Negendank, a psychotherapist in Sacramento, California told Huffpo.
“Healing isn’t linear and you might feel good about going on some dates initially, but then notice your anxiety increasing and decide to slow down. Listen to this, be gentle with yourself ― whatever reaction you are having is normal! ― and communicate any boundaries you need.”
Control your dates
It is completely fine to decide where and when you meet a potential boyfriend. This control can make you feel safe.
“Due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD), some women ‘freeze’ when faced with certain requests, like going on a walk at night with a guy they just met,” Resnick Anderson, a Los Angeles-based sex therapist who works with trauma survivors explained.
It’s that kind of trauma in the body that makes it hard to date.” Setting up your dates may alleviate some of this anxiety.
Have a supportive friend
Let your best friend know when you are on a date, and use coded messaging to let them know how things are going. This assurance will help you feel less alone when on a date.
“If things are going well on the date, you can shoot your safety-checker a quick smiley and they will know that you’re having a great time,” Stefani Goerlich, a therapist in Detroit who works with sexual trauma victims.
“If you are looking to make an early exit, the safety check becomes your opportunity to make a graceful exit.”
Take your time discussing what happened
You shouldn’t be in a rush to disclose what happened to you with a new partner. Take your time and develop trust before you explain your past.
“Your story is yours alone, and you get to choose when or who you want to tell,” Kristen Diou, a counselor in Texas and the co-host of the podcast “Pop Culture Therapists told Huff Po.
“You can still set boundaries without sharing your story.”
Have zero tolerance for red flags
It something seems fishy about your new date, don’t dismiss it by saying that maybe you are just being paranoid. Even though you should be open-minded and less judgmental, don’t be quick to dismiss red flags.
You aren’t being paranoid or judgmental. You are being a mature adult who prioritizes their own safety over being liked. It is better to be safe than sorry. Listen to your gut and trust your instincts.
If something seems off, it probably is. And at this point, it’s better to close the door on someone nice than to end up accidentally dating someone abusive and blaming yourself later for not seeing the red flags.