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sexual contact

If it is your partner that has just been attacked or has remembered some past abuse, which she has blocked out, she may find sexual and intimate contact difficult. Be sensitive to their sexual and intimacy difficulties. It is important to realise that it is not something to do with you - it is to do with the feelings and memories she has. Reassure her and let her take things at her own pace. If your partner has been raped or sexually abused they may not want to sleep with you or even have you physically close. Respect their wishes and tell them you will assume sex is off the agenda until they say otherwise. Childhood sexual abuse can blur the line between sex and affection and this can affect friendships as much as sexual relationships. With your help, patience and understanding, she can heal from the trauma.

However, if you do not understand your partner's needs and reactions as regards their body and you are confused or angry over it, it might be good to talk to someone.

If the attack was in the past

Do not blame her for not talking about the assault before. The time for revealing abuse needs to be right for her and women contact our centres for support sometimes many years after the sexual abuse happened. Listen and support her. The effects of sexual assault last a long time and can include anger, guilt, self blame and depression. 

These long-term effects of child sexual abuse can be extremely damaging. In adult life it can lead to depression, substance misuse, loss of self-esteem, eating disorders, difficulties in sexual relationships and an inability to trust people. It is important to remember that with the right help and support these effects can be overcome and survivors can move on and forward with their lives.