We've all had the experience of listening to a friend lament the state of a crumbling romantic relationship. We stared at them across a coffee table as they cried after a love went sour. Such a scene may be familiar even in relationships that were once healthy. However, what do you do when the break up can be dangerous? Maybe your loved one faces acts of retaliation like enduring scratched in the paint of their cars, being outed for their sexual lifestyle, or fighting off a physical assaulted.
You being a caring family member or friend to a survivor in this situation may bring feelings helplessness, confusion, and anger. Understandably, there isn't much you can do to change their relationship or the abuser. However, there is a lot you can do to support the survivor.
Don't Rescue them
Are you one of the 20% of American living without some form of Herpes?
Herpes is so common but we treat it as a selective mark on only a few promiscuous and reckless individuals. Herpes-1, commonly known as the cold sore virus is quickly surpassing Herpes-2 for all new genital herpes infections. A sixth of Americans have Herpes-2. A fifth of those infected have noticeable outbreaks, another fifth never see ANY symptoms but can still pass the disease. The other 3 in 5 see such minor symptoms that they mistake it for something else like a cut from shaving too closely or irritation from rough sex. Meaning, to have a conversation about when to disclose we have to have a conversation about the sheer amount of people who do not know that they are infected in order to disclose.
Top 5 Reasons to Disclose
It was such an honor to tell my story on Annie's podcast. Since then, I've been met with an outpouring of support and connected with disillusioned therapists and budding sex educators from all over the country. Each conversation was powerful and I got to hold space for my colleagues much like I hold space for clients. I listened to tearful stories of being overworked in community agencies. I encouraged people not to trust our enemies and to find better supports as they take the leap of faith into private practice. If you're a therapist or educator reading this, then I"m going to distill the top 5 points I've been giving out for the past two weeks into something digestible.
1. Don't Throw in the towel
My aging clients all want help with reclaiming the sex of their youth. Men who cannot last long and women who experience dryness want to be turned on immediately and stay on. Parents of all genders usually experience a time in their sex lives where they have to start having sex in order to get into the mood, not get into the mood in order to have sex. Surgeries, spinal cord injuries, and illnesses will also mean that we may need to negotiate with our disabilities an physical pain before we negotiate sex with our partners. No wonder so many couples just chuck the baby out with the bath water and say "to hell with sex. It's too much work." Sex therapy can help you have even better sex than when in your youth, it's just not going to be the same. First, you have to accept these basic 11 principles:
It Is All About Sex
I have heard many clients try to justify their unwillingness to adjust to a change in their sex life with statements like "Sex isn't everything. this period of time has shown me I can live without it." Yes, you will not literally keel over and die from no sex, but it actually can prolong your life! The good enough sex (GES) model encourages the idea that sex is an integral part of a couples comfort, intimacy, desire, pleasure, eroticism, and satisfaction.