Free Shipping Worldwide Shipping 24-Hour Delivery
Discreet Shipping Discreet Billing Secure Checkout
Best Sex Toys Logo


How To Support A Partner With Sexual Trauma


The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reveals that around one in three women and one in six men in the US will be a victim of sexual violence during their lifetime.

While some sexual abuse survivors can perfectly handle healthy and fulfilling relationships, most find it challenging to engage in any romantic or sexual relationship. It is because every person is different, so are how they deal with their experience.

Being in a relationship with someone who is sexually-traumatized can feel like walking on eggshells, as any form of romantic and sexual contact can be triggering for a survivor.

Healing from sexual abuse is harder, as it comes with overcoming constant depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. In order to determine how you can support a partner with sexual trauma, you must first understand what causes it.

Causes of Sexual Trauma

Most people think that people who are sexually-traumatized are all victims of rape, but what they do not realize is that sexual trauma can be caused by a lot of other things other than rape. Listed below are forms of sexual abuse and sexual assault, all of which can cause sexual trauma:

Woman thinking
Woman thinking about herself.

1. Rape

By definition, rape is a forced sexual contact without consent. It includes forcing sex upon someone who does not want it, who is intoxicated, or who is not old enough to give consent or understand consent at all. Any type of forced sexual contact, including both intercourse and oral, counts as rape.

2. Child Molestation

This refers to any form of sexual contact with a child. Most children who are molested are too young to understand what’s going on. Therefore, causing children to cooperate and not fight back.

3. Incest

This describes any form of sexual contact between people who are related. While incest may also occur between adults, research reveals that the majority of reported incests involves a child.

4. Sexual Coercion

A form of sexual abuse that includes any unwanted sexual activity after being pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way. More often than not, sexual coercion is practiced by an authority figure who uses their influence and authority to have power over you, including bosses, property managers, loan officers, professors, and more.

Sexual coercion may also occur in a relationship. It happens when someone threatens to end the relationship or spread rumors if the other person won’t have sex with them.

5. Non-consensual sexual contact

This is a much broader category of sexual abuse. It includes unwanted sexual touching, such as groping or fondling. Attempted rape can also fall under this category.

6. Non-contact sexual abuse

Not all types of sexual abuse fits perfectly into the mainstream definition. This is a form of sexual abuse without any sort of contact with the victim, a type of sexual abuse that isn’t easily understood by many.

It includes parents who engage in sexual activity in front of their child is committing the crime of sexual abuse. Revenge porn sites and posting nude photos of someone without consent also falls under this category.

7 Ways To Support A Partner With Sexual Trauma

A loved one’s support can make a huge difference in healing from sexual trauma. Here are some ways you can be an effective source of support to your partner:

Couple supporting each other.
It’s important that you know how to support your partner.

1. Don’t press your partner for details about their experience.

Most survivors go through a stage where they appear to not want to deal with their trauma nor talk about it. This is very common, and it’s usually because they either want to forget about it or they want to process what happened to them before talking to anyone.

If your partner doesn’t seem interested in talking about their experience, don’t press them into talking. Instead, you can say gentle, encouraging statements such as:

I know you’ve gone through something difficult, and I just want to let you know that I’m here to listen to you if you ever want to talk about it.

I’m ready to listen and support you if you need me. I will not judge or blame you for what happened to you.

By saying these, you are giving your partner the time they need and you’re also letting them know that you’re there to listen whenever they’re ready to talk about it.

2. Ask them how they want you to support them and discuss potential triggers.

Couple hugging each other.
Ask them, ask what they’re needing help with.

Every person is different, so is their healing process. It can be challenging to support a survivor, particularly because some things may be potential triggers.

There’s no way to know how exactly a survivor wants to be supported. Rather, your partner needs to tell you. This is how crucial good communication is. To initiate this conversation, you can say something like, “I’m here for you. Let me know when and how you would like me to support you.

When the conversation happens, it is also the best time to discuss the things that trigger your partner. Potential triggers aren’t limited to sexual activity. In fact, there are a lot of things that can trigger a survivor, including certain places, sounds, smells, words, and more.

3. Never pressure your partner into having sex with you.

Couple kissing each other.
It’s important to not pressure your partner for sex.

It goes without saying that you should never pressure anyone, not only the survivors of sexual abuse, into having sex with you. How and when you initiate sex to a survivor may require more caution.

According to psychotherapist and clinical traumatologist Silva Neves, someone who has been sexually abused is more likely to have difficulties in being sexually aroused, and it will take time for the survivor to feel comfortable with sexual intimacy again.

Giving your partner the time and space they need is crucial. Talk to them about how they would feel comfortable with you initiating sexual contact and keep that conversation open. But most importantly, allow them to set the pace.

Setting and respecting boundaries both in and out of the bedroom keeps a relationship healthy, but it is especially crucial if someone in the relationship suffers sexual trauma.

Licensed sex therapist Vanessa Martin reveals that emphasizing that boundaries will be honored in your relationship might seem obvious to you, but can be very impactful for your partner who’s been sexually abused.

In a relationship, consent applies to more than just sexual activities, boundaries may also apply in things you talk about, places you go to, and other non-sexual activities. It is vital that both parties understand what is acceptable and what is out of bounds.

As much as setting boundaries are crucial, so is understanding that certain restrictions can be withdrawn at any time. For instance, you and your partner have agreed to not engage in a specific sexual activity. The restriction can be withdrawn at any moment when both parties agree and are comfortable with it.

5. Give your partner control over their own body during sex.

During sexual activity, it’s best to allow your partner to set the pace. Allow them to navigate their sexuality and figure out what they’re comfortable with. Giving your partner control over their own body during sex will empower them and can make it easier for them to be more open about sexual intimacy again.

There may also be an instance where your partner will allow you to set the pace. If this happens, take the lead, but do it with extreme care. Having sex with someone who’s been sexually abused requires more caution and attention. The last thing you want to do is make aggressive advances in order to fulfill your sexual fantasies.

When taking the lead during sex, it’s important to always ask for consent and affirm their power to say no. There should never be a switch from one sex act to another or attempt at sexual advances without asking your partner, “Is this okay?” It is also essential to acknowledge that a verbal “no” may not always be possible. Learn to take cues from your partner’s non-verbal responses to understand whether they’re comfortable or not.

Dealing with rejections is also crucial. When your partner says “no” or wants to take a break, handle rejections with understanding and compassion, and avoid asking why. A “no” must be respected, whether or not it comes with a reason or explanation.

6. Do not let the trauma become a constant focus in the relationship.

Couple having fun together.
Don’t let the trauma be the main focus in your relationship.

The society’s understanding of sexual abuse and sexual assault leads many to view survivors as broken and damaged, which is precisely what survivors are most afraid of. People who have been sexually abused are often scared of being defined by what happened to them.

For this reason, it is important that you steer clear from treating them like they are broken and there is something wrong with them. It is also crucial that your relationship does not revolve solely around the trauma and you don’t spend every single day mulling over it.

You can also let them know that their trauma is not who they are by saying something encouraging like, “You are a strong, wonderful person who has endured a traumatizing experience and I admire you for that.

7. Consider going to sex therapy together.

While this may be effective for some relationships involving someone with sexual trauma, it does not work for everyone. Talking about considering sex therapy can be counterproductive. Sometimes, suggesting therapy to a survivor can make them feel like there’s something wrong with them that should be fixed.

For this reason, it is important to assure your partner that you don’t see him or her as broken. Sexual abuse is a terrifying thing to have to endure, but it’s important that you let your partner know that it doesn’t make them any less whole or worthy of a person.

The time when you bring up the idea of sex therapy is crucial. It’s best to aim for a time when she’s feeling calm and collected. When the perfect time comes to strike a conversation, you should be straightforward about your thoughts.

You can say something like, “What do you think about attending sex therapy together? I would love to learn more about how I can be a supportive partner to you. But if that doesn’t feel comfortable to you, I’m happy to hang back.

Expressing your genuine intentions can make a huge difference. You can say that you’re suggesting therapy because you wanted to offer support and your own involvement.

It is also important to let her know that the decision is only hers to make, and whatever her decision is, you’re there to support her in any way you can.

Michael Grant Image
About the Author

Michael Grant is an excellent writer and storyteller, which makes him one of the essential pillars of the content creation team. He's constantly traveling around the U.S. and loves attending numerous training and workshops on marketing and product development. He loves surprising the team with fresh ideas and the latest developments in the sex toy industry. His other interests include music and sports.

Content creator @

Comments on How To Support A Partner With Sexual Trauma (0)

You'll need to join the community to submit a comment.

Login or Sign up

*Your comment needs to be related and substantial to the topic.

More Sexy Articles Icon Articles