Jun 19, 2023, 06:27AM

Sex Heals Trauma

Our culture is so afraid of sex that we’ve walled it off from healing.

Nicole20kidman20 20eyes20wide20shut20 205 1.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Men come to me in pain. Sometimes the pain’s obvious, even a matter of public record. More often it’s hidden behind layers of more acceptable male behavior. Working hard, successful at a career, having a family, while building walls around any emotion that might not be considered masculine—that’s the typical pattern I see. Even aggression is more socially acceptable for men than showing pain.

Veterans are allowed to have PTSD. “Shell shock” was the first term for PTSD, but the battlefield is far from the only place to be traumatized. Boys are abused too, including sexually abused. Men are beaten up, terrorized by bullies, and put down by their intimate partners in ways that leave scars. I can see the scars just as clearly as I could see the remnants of a gash on someone’s face that had needed 60 stitches.

I never thought of myself as a healer. I didn’t want to be a counselor, and while I’ve spent time helping people in substance-related crises, I’ve wanted to get them through the immediate problem and then pass them on to someone with more patience. But I seem to have a gift for healing men.

My secret: Sex heals trauma. Honest, loving, judgment-free, no performance-anxiety sex is better than any therapy I’ve researched or experienced. It may not work for everyone, nothing does, but sex has a better track record in my experience than anything else. Trauma cuts us off from the life force. Some people feel dissociated, as though they’re watching themselves from the outside. Many feel cut off from their bodies. See the work of Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk, both giants in the field of trauma, for more information. Sex, in the right context of absolute consent and trust, can bring a person back into their body and mind, even soul, in a way that no yoga class can.

Over the years, I’ve had friends and lovers who didn’t realize how much pain they were in until a caring sexual relationship showed them how it felt to be loved. Men don’t get much physical affection, starting at an early age. Fathers are often afraid to show too much affection with sons because they remember getting beaten up if they seemed too “soft” or feminine. We all need cuddling, no matter how old we get.

Perhaps I’m a psychological cuddler. The sex doesn’t always have to be physical. Just showing appreciation for someone else as a sexual being can pour healing ointment on the wounds of trauma. Real physical closeness is even more powerful. The first time a man realizes he can drop his need to perform in bed and simply take it slow, and enjoy being cared for, is a beautiful thing to experience. It builds his confidence so he’s not so vulnerable to attack. It attracts other women too.

Our culture is so afraid of sex that we’ve walled it off from healing. I was surprised when I was called a healer. I don’t plan to go into private practice—I’m trying to build a different career and don’t have that kind of time. But I encourage those who are suffering from trauma to consider going against 12 Step advice to avoid relationships for your first year and what’s no doubt your therapist’s advice to “focus on yourself.”  Find someone you like, someone who cares about you. It doesn’t have to be forever. Be open to possibilities. Try not to grasp, and enjoy the moment.


Register or Login to leave a comment