ERP 401: How To Love & Support Someone Who Has Experienced Sexual Trauma — An Interview With Megan Negendank

By Posted in - Podcast December 5th, 2023 0 Comments

The impact of sexual trauma on survivors often leaves a lasting imprint on both their emotional and physical well-being. Alongside grappling with feelings of fear, anger, and sadness, the trauma may be unconsciously stored in the body and unexpectedly reexperienced through somatic triggers during intimate moments. This can undermine a survivor’s sense of safety, trust in others, and ability to freely experience closeness.

In this episode, we delve into an often unexplored topic of relationships—navigating the intricate terrain of supporting a partner who has endured sexual trauma. The episode not only sheds light on the challenges faced but also presents practical steps, fostering a sense of hope and connection for both survivors and their partners. Join us as we explore the profound impact of trauma on intimacy and how intentional, informed efforts can contribute to healing and strengthen the bonds within these relationships.

Megan Lara Negendank, LMFT, CST, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a certified sex therapist. She is the founder of Love Heal Grow, a relationship therapy center in Northern California where she specializes in trauma-informed, relationship-focused psychotherapy for survivors of trauma and their partners. She has been featured as a relationship expert on PBS, NPR, and in Sacramento Magazine.

In this episode

5:15 Megan Negendank’s mission to support survivors and partners through trauma-informed therapy.

9:49 Navigating the complexity of survivor experiences and partner support in the realm of sexual trauma.

17:02 Coping mechanisms, trust challenges, and partner support in sexual trauma recovery.

22:37 Communication, consent, and partner self-compassion in the aftermath of sexual trauma.

32:55 Building bridges to stability: Navigating trauma in relationships through co-regulation and secure functioning.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Be aware that trauma may be stored somatically and unexpectedly triggered during intimacy.
  • Rebuild trust through open communication, checking on consent, and co-regulating during difficult moments.
  • Communicate openly about intimacy preferences and check in frequently during physical closeness.
  • Give both partners space to process their own trauma responses to avoid resentment building up.
  • Use grounding techniques like deep breathing together to increase feelings of safety and closeness.
  • Establish clear boundaries to meet both individuals’ changing needs over time.
  • Make time for self-care activities to avoid burnout like exercising, journaling, or hobbies you find relaxing.
  • Read additional relationship resources like the book discussed to gain more support tools.
  • Seek individual or couples counseling from a trauma-informed therapist if needed.

Mentioned

Loving Someone Who Has Sexual Trauma: A Compassionate Guide to Supporting Your Partner and Improving Your Relationship (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series) (*Amazon Affiliate link) (book)

Connect with Megan Negendank

Websites: lovehealgrow.com

Instagram: instagram.com/megan.lovehealgrow

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship 

Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins 

Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins 

Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 

Website: drjessicahiggins.com  

Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Megan, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Yeah. For people who are getting to know you here, where would you like to start for helping people to know who you are and where you’re coming from?

Wonderful. So I am a therapist in Northern California. I’m a relationship and sex therapist. I also am the founder of a large therapy center up here in northern California, where we focus on relationships and trauma. What I have done recently actually is put a book out into the world about how partners can support their loved ones who are survivors of sexual trauma, because that’s something that comes up a lot in our practice. 

What’s the name of the book? 

It’s Loving Someone Who Has Sexual Trauma.

Such an important support that you’re offering through that book. Because I think there’s information out there for the one who has experienced a trauma like sexual abuse, and some of the things they may be negotiating, but perhaps not as much support for the partners. Is that what you found?

Yes. Actually, it’s something that since I have been a therapist, I have supported survivors of sexual trauma, whether that’s abuse, like you’re mentioning, or rape. When they’re coming in, one of the main pain points they have is how it’s affecting their relationship. Either they’re in couples’ therapy and I’m sitting with a partner, and they’re really wanting tools to support, and they’re having their own stress and worries and fears come up. Or I’m working with the individual, and I’m hearing that their partner wants support. I did so much research, trying to find the book to recommend to folks, because I’m usually working with folks who want resources, who want books, and the book didn’t exist. So I was like, this is so needed. So I was really honored to be able to put this together for folks, because I think it’s going to help. 

Yes, no kidding! I want to refer this book to people too, because I think people care so deeply about their loved one and want to help. But if they don’t have a lot of ability to be informed around what the experience of someone. Not that it’s prescriptive; everybody has got a different experience. But just to have some orientation is so helpful, and then some of the tools that you advise. So thank you, thank you, thank you for doing that.

Oh yeah, you’re so welcome. It is so confusing. Like when you mentioned this not prescriptive because everyone is unique, and I think that’s what is so hard for the partner sometimes, is because there isn’t just this predictable thing, like “This is the problem, and this is what happens to your partner, and this is what you need to do.” It looks so different, and that’s very scary for the partner.

Yes. Especially for the one that is in trauma or having a trauma response, they’re not typically able to verbalize or communicate to their significant other what they need. So it can feel really disorienting for everyone.

Right, yes. The survivor often feels so misunderstood, and then they can feel like the burden is on them to explain when they’re already, like you’re saying, they’re disoriented by it, they’re confused, they’re trying to do their own healing. So it’s so hard. It’s just such a pain point, for people who really love each other, when this is showing up.

Yeah, so you’re giving some scope to the landscape. Again, it’s not what everybody is going to go through, but giving some things to be aware of and consider. So where would you like to begin? I mean, I know one of the things you really want to emphasize too, is what are some of the common emotional experiences of someone who is a survivor of sexual trauma. Do you want to start there?

Yeah, we can totally start there. 

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“What I think is so helpful for folks to know is that there isn’t a normal way to respond when you’re a survivor. If you’ve experienced a sexual trauma over your lifetime, you might be responding to that event in different ways throughout your life, and you might get triggered at different points of your life.”

Part of what I talk about in the book, and that I love to talk about with my clients, is that if the experience you went through was traumatic, was significant to you, which it usually is, if you went through a violent relational experience like sexual trauma, there’s a loss of trust. It shifts your sense of safety, how you see the world, how you see others, and it is so disorienting. And when that happens, a lot of different emotions can come up. It could be anger, could be fear and terror, could be a lot of sadness and grief that you go through. Or it might be a shock experience or numbing, feeling like just wanting to avoid and everything’s okay. Those things can happen all at once, you can cycle through them very quickly, you can pop around to those different emotional experiences. I think that’s confusing to both the survivor sometimes, and then also their partner, because the wide range of emotional impact is unpredictable, in some sense.

And what is also happening somatically, like you’re describing, there could be these somatic feelings. Sometimes people perhaps feel as though they’ve done some healing work or process around the sexual trauma, and maybe even have attempted to compartmentalize or have dealt with it or processed it. Yet, if they’re encountering new levels of closeness and intimacy with a significant other, that that could actually be activating and might be surprising around, like: My body is not responding in the way that I thought it would, or it’s responding in a different way. That’s notable, and again, we might not know how to support that.

Yeah, right. And what we have seen at our practice and consulting with each other is, something that shows up a lot when our couples come in, because we practice sex therapy in our practice. So a couple might come in and say: “We have such a strong emotional connection. We trust each other. This is a great relationship. But we’re having sexual problems, so let’s go to a sex therapist.” As we get to know the couple more and understand what they’re experiencing, we start finding out that the couple was actually telling us: Oh, I had maybe a date rape, 15 years ago.” They’re confused, because they’re like, “I don’t think this has anything to do with it. Maybe I got therapy back then. I’m not thinking about it.” But then when we hear about the intimacy and the nervousness around getting close, and the triggers around specific things, and we slow down, and they listen to their body somatically, they start noticing that there is that connection still. That’s really helpful for them to be aware of, because we can slow down and build a lot more safety in the moment for the survivor, and that insight helps build even a new deeper level of trust and intimacy in the relationship. 

Yes. Because when we’re talking about what lives in the body, that we might not have a lot of language or even sometimes understanding about. Yet, it might present itself in an intimate moment. So often, there’s a lot going on in sexual intimacy with a significant other. It’s like, caring about the other person’s pleasure, wanting to enjoy the experience together, and it feels difficult to slow down to give that room and space. That feels kind of not what we’re wanting to create, and yet it’s part of what is in real time happening.

Right. Something that is so common, and that I think helps the partner know what to do, is that they’re automatically having a response; they notice their partner shutting down, or they notice their partner is scared. Because the sexual trauma survivor partner, they have that somatic experience and it’s happening automatically, and like you’re saying, they don’t necessarily have words for it. Then their loved one notices that. Because they’re attached to their partner, they’re going to have to attune that something is going on. But because it isn’t clear, they’re going to make their own story about what that is. Oftentimes that story is, they’re not attracted to me, or I’m doing something wrong, or they’re mad at me. So they have their story of why they’re feeling rejected, when it’s really not about that at all. So my goal is to help folks understand how this trauma, it comes up, and it’s no one’s fault, and we can support each other through it. 

Absolutely. Thank you for just acknowledging how quickly we are perceiving the other and we’re catching those cues, and then how we interpret that is something different. Even the person that is experiencing it in their own body might even interpret it in a way that isn’t necessarily in connection with the actual trauma that’s getting activated. Especially for someone who’s had sexual trauma at very early ages, or even some intense and severe trauma, that it’s perhaps been dissociated, there’s a lot of ways. Then even just on other levels too, that it’s such a violation and a boundary. I mean, I know you’re talking about the importance of trust and the body and the intrusiveness of that. There’s so many layers here that even the person who’s experiencing the trauma response might not have the awareness or consciousness around what’s getting activated.

Right. Because there’s so many ways, based on our personality, where we are developmentally, our age, what we know about the world, what our strengths are, there’s so many different ways to cope when someone does violate our bodies, break our trust. Like you’re mentioning, one really healthy way to cope is to dissociate; one really healthy way to cope is to come up with a story of betrayal that maybe isn’t accurate, but brings us some sense of safety. So yes, especially if it’s happened, if they were molested as a child, there was a violation of body boundaries, statistically it’s much more common that that was by someone who was supposed to love them and keep them safe, someone they knew. So there’s a way that we can cope with that. But that trauma stores in our bodies, like we might have a belief that people who love us do harm. It’s okay to feel unsafe with people who love us sometimes, but our body goes into dissociation when that happens, in order to try to feel safe. So to have these automatic responses that come from years of trying to keep ourselves safe during abuse can be so confusing as an adult, like you’re saying, not able to put words to it sometimes. 

Oh, and thank you for just laying this out of the people that perhaps have caused injury, or that also the people that are the love, like either family, parents, various people that have also been the loved one, and how conflicting that is. So it’s absolutely confusing mixed messages, and like, how do I know when to trust or if it’s safe to trust? All of those things. You’re also just acknowledging, or I guess I want to say that I’m feeling so much tenderness as we talk about this, that this is so important to give space and time to. Yet, we might be so ill-equipped around how to negotiate.

Right. Well, because what’s happening in that moment, I’m really connecting to what you’re saying and putting myself in the survivors’ shoes in the moment with their partner. Because not only are they holding the past, in the way that trauma can show up in the present, but it’s this long-held belief in pain. But they’re also scared in the moment because they love their partner and they want to be close to their partner, and that can increase the activation. Because there’s a pull to: “I want to be close. I want to reassure you. I see that this is upsetting you, loved one. I feel like something’s wrong with me. Also, I might be angry because I’m mad that this is even happening. I’m confused about why this is happening. And my body is feeling scared, or my body is feeling frozen.” So there’s so much pressure in that moment. Because it can feel like, “I both want to save this relationship, but I also want to save myself and keep myself safe.”

Yes, thank you for acknowledging. I mean, there’s so many layers. I don’t even think we’re going to be able to touch on them all. But it’s immense.

Yeah, it is.

So as we talk about helping partners of survivors be supportive, or what to consider, is there anything on trust and consent you want to mention? I know that’s something you really address

Yeah. So one of the things that a partner of a sexual trauma survivor might feel, not everyone will feel this way, but it isn’t uncommon to feel this way, is this sense of like, my partner sees me as the bad guy in this interaction. But I’m not the person who caused the harm. I’m not the one that perpetrated the rape, or that did this painful thing to my partner. So why do I have to have the impact of it? Why don’t you see that I’m trustworthy? 

One of the main things that I love to help partner see is that, even though they aren’t the one who caused it, and it’s not personal, their partner’s reaction is from the trauma, and not that moment exactly about their partner and what their partner is doing, that they’re doing something wrong. They are though in this great position to help their partner heal; they’re actually in probably the best position to help their partner heal and to support their partner. 

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“When the partner is activated and triggered, they’re showing that to their partner, because they love their partner, because they trust their partner, and they’re looking to the partner to help create safety.”

So to switch that understanding, to reframe that like: Oh, my partner is activated, not because I’m the bad guy, but because actually, I’m the safe person. So they can be activated with me, and I can help show them that you can have safety in close relationships.” One of the ways we can show them is by being really open around consent, and checking in with our partner during sex and during closeness, maybe even during close emotional conversations of like: “How is this feeling to you? Do you want to keep talking about this?” Getting feedback from our partner, and this is really great to go both ways in all relationships, builds a lot of safety. So especially folks who have had safety violated, are going to heal in relationships where we’re checking in on consent and reading and getting feedback on how things are going.

So to not be assumptive, to be continuing to check out interpretations, rather than making up the stories, like we just talked about. So that it’s keeping that channel really as attuned as possible, so there’s not a lot of interference, to the best of our ability.

Right. I was thinking about, as human beings, it’s okay for us when we’re inexperienced. So sex is an experience, and when we’re in that experience, we want it to be pleasurable, we want it to be connected, and we’re human. So different things, all of us. There’s going to be touch we don’t like, or there’s going to be moments that we need some reassurance. It’s such an opportunity, when we’re inexperienced, with another person, to stay attached by checking things out.

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“I think about consent as actually such a bonding moment in relationships. Because it’s another way to share the experience. I think it makes things like sex, or any experience, when we get feedback from our partners, it can make it more rich, because we’re sharing it together.”

Absolutely, and we’re allowing ourselves to be more fully seen, which deepens that intimacy. Because if we’re concealing or hiding, or somehow saying, consciously or unconsciously, that it’s not okay to feel what we feel, then we’re attempting, in a more of a facade way, but to just go along. But it’s not really resonant or congruent, conversely to what you’re describing. If we can make welcome, how is this feeling, and really giving some space, we can adjust, we can pivot, we can really make this truly about what’s here right now, and we can meet that. There’s such a beauty in that, and I don’t know that we all slow down to really listen that closely. I mean, not all the time, because that’s difficult to do. But in these really important moments, especially with the care and sensitivity, and perhaps creating safety and corrective reparative experiences around when we’ve had trauma.

Right. Because oftentimes, I mean, I’d guess and say all times, but maybe it’s not. It’s the exact opposite of what happens during sexual trauma. Because your body is in an experience, but the perpetrator is not at all interested in what’s going on with you during.

No. Likely, the perpetrator, I mean we don’t want to go into all this, but there’s likely some substance, alcohol, drug. There’s lots of things that interfere with their state of consciousness, whether or not it’s their own trauma or various.

Right, in power and in control, and the dehumanizing of the other. So you’re right, it is a corrective experience to have the opposite experience of that in a sexual relationship, where you’re held with love and your humanity and personhood.

Thank you. So as we’re talking, and we’re describing a lot of holding room and space for both, and if one is having more of a trauma response or feeling activated or triggered, and the other is this loving presence. If we look at cumulative, do you also feel that there’s room and space for the partner? Because what I see sometimes is the partner of the survivor will defer their needs, maybe not even make space for their own needs. This can take the form of even years, where one is perhaps really doing a lot of work to have healing, and maybe even asking for abstinence or having minimal real engagement. And the other is like: “Oh, I miss you, I need you, I want you.” That can be threatening and confronting. So we know this is complicated. But do you want to say anything about this?

Yes, and I just love that. I love that you’re going here, because this is actually why I feel like help for the partner of the survivor is so important. Because they matter a lot as a person, and they’re having their own reaction and pain. Sometimes I think about trauma as a ripple effect. So if there’s a rape, and the primary person impacted by that trauma is the survivor of that rape, then the people closest to them are also traumatized in their own ways. When you’re in an intimate relationship with the survivor, you’re not the primary person who experienced the trauma, but you are a secondary person. I love how you shared that they’re maybe deferring their needs, they’re helping. I was thinking, it’s not even really realistic that anyone’s going to be able to do that for very long. Because they’re human, and sometimes they can feel like that’s what’s expected of them. But they have needs also in the relationship, and they have their own reactions. 

So a lot of what I touch on in the book is, it’s normal for you to feel angry; maybe angry at the fact that it happened, maybe angry at yourself because you still have needs, maybe even angry at your partner and then maybe you feel guilty about that, and maybe you don’t. Maybe you feel so much grief because your relationship isn’t what you wanted it to be, confusion. 

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“There’s so many different emotional experiences of the partner. Part of what I think is so important for the partner to be able to do, one is to have a support system. So if they need or want their own therapist to explore this with them, I think that’s so helpful.”

The books out there. There’s different advocacy groups that do education on sexual trauma, and you can sometimes find support groups with that. But outside of that, to identify where are your boundaries, it’s important that you have boundaries too. How do you ask and how in the relationship do you work together to also express your needs? Because it’s not sustainable, and it’s not even healthy for the survivor to have only one partner really centered in their needs. Then, how do you take care of yourself during this time? 

Because what we often notice in the practice is that sometimes couples will wait a long time to get support around this. By the time they begin, the partner who has been trying to support the sexual survivor can feel some resentment, because it has been maybe many years without sex or feeling rejected. It’s like, there’s different parts of them showing up. So a part of them understands and feels supportive of their partner and feels a lot of grief, and then a part of them feels resentment, or they’re angry that they haven’t been able to connect, because they feel like they’ve been rejected over and over again. Like we talked about earlier, it’s so complex, because it can feel re-traumatizing to the sexual survivor when the resentment comes towards them. So there’s a lot of working through to help both people feel really seen and supported.

Yes, yes, yes. Do you recommend certain ways for partners to cope? Are there any specific things you want to name around that?

I think the first thing that’s helpful is just being able to have a space, whether that’s through self-reflection and journaling, or your own therapy. But a space to process your own experience of it, and to let yourself be human. So it’s really lovely when we realize that if our partner is focusing on their healing, maybe they can’t tend to all our feelings about what happens. So an example, and actually I use a lot of examples in my book. I love storytelling, because I think it helps us really relate to what’s going on. But if there’s a couple, maybe they’ve been together five years, and they have a secure relationship, they enjoy sex together. Then maybe there’s a sexual assault that happens to one of the partners, and they’re going through crisis. The partner who wasn’t sexually assaulted is also going through crisis. and they can’t get emotional support necessarily from the survivor in that moment, because they think that crisis is so big. It’s lovely for them to want to protect their partner from their feelings. But those feelings are still there. So finding a way to work through that, to have self-compassion and also get compassion from others, is really important. I love Dr. Kristin Neff, who talks about mindful self-compassion and has a lot of information about that. Being able to normalize their own feelings and give themselves a lot of comfort when those come up, so that they’re not just stuffing it because they need to show up for their partner in that moment. I think it’s really important. 

Yes, thank you. Because it does give the ability to work with one’s process and have that space, whether or not it’s through the mindfulness journaling or through a support person, to give that real validity and space to have existence. Then perhaps at a point in time, the partner who experienced that assault can stabilize a bit in their own work, and perhaps can have capacity to engage. Then the one that’s done a little bit more of that holding space for their emotion has a little bit more to present or reveal, to make visible that there’s a little more contact there. I think coming back to some of our early conversation of that, I just felt such a beautiful quality when people can meet in this place of the unknown, and really give so much regard and respect and listening to that space, and the intimacy and what can get created. There’s a lot more availability. Rather than the person that’s been stuffing and then there’s all this backlog of like: “Well, I’ve been waiting for you. I don’t even know how I feel. But I’ve got all this stuff that I need to now work through.” Not to say that that can’t be worked.

But that it can be really overwhelming for both of them, because it’s just been stuffed for a long time. Yeah, absolutely. 

Yeah. Well, in the theme of really looking at secure functioning or how partners and survivors can work together, is there anything you want to be communicating here around what that looks like? 

As you know, you’re a therapist, and it’s so magical when it’s happening, when they are able to meet in that unknown space and create a sense of security for each other, when we’re able to do that in relationships. I think that the main thing that I find when trauma is in the mix. 

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“In all relationships, we’re going to have moments of disconnection, we’re going to have moments we get activated, we’re going to have moments when things in the past come up in the present and affect our perspective. But when there’s trauma in the mix, it can feel even scarier, and we can feel even more powerless in those moments of disconnection. Knowing that, reminding ourselves that it’s coming up that big because we’re feeling a threat to our relationship, we’re feeling a threat to our love, and that’s terrifying.”

And when we’re disconnected or in conflict in these moments, or misunderstanding each other, or doing things that even maybe we’re thinking: “Gosh, this is causing so much harm,” it’s actually because we’re fighting for each other. Reminding ourselves of that, and keeping that in mind, as we do everything we can in using our skill. So maybe you find these in therapy, maybe you find them in my book, maybe you find them in talking to your friend. But using our skills to to try to give soothing to our bodies, and showing that to our partner: “I’m showing up for you, and you matter,” and continuing to do that. Listening to each other. I like to help folks practice sitting with their partner, and listening and reflecting what they’re understanding, what they’re grasping, to show: “I’m here with you, I hear you, I see you.” Practicing doing that for each other back and forth can help co-regulate us and stabilize ourselves in the moment. But remembering that it’s in those moments, those little moments, that we are able to do that, that we’re building trust, and that’s what builds that secure connection. It’s okay to lose it sometimes. Just reminding ourselves, we’re showing up, we’re still going to do the work. Over time, we can build that trust to where we want to be, where it doesn’t feel as threatening or as scary in those moments.

Yeah, it’s almost like we’re trying to build a bridge to meet each other in a way that feels stable and regulated. We will likely have to find our ground over and over again. I love your referencing of just the soothing, and how we can co-regulate too, when at least one is feeling regulated and can practice that grounding and soothing. Do you have any favorite soothing techniques to recommend for regulation?

I really like breathwork, and I really like just noticing. So what I will work with folks in the therapy room on is becoming aware of what body cues show up when we’re activated, and then noticing that and then coming back to our breath, or taking ourselves into the room. I’ll say, “Notice how your body feels sitting in the chair you’re sitting on, the weight of your body against the chair, the push of the chair up against your body. Notice how your feet feel on the ground.” Trying to take self into the moment. And when I’m working with couples, I’ll practice how we can, if they’re open to it, because sometimes we can feel a little defensive when someone wants to lead us through a de-escalation exercise. But how can we do these practices, either breathwork or grounding techniques, at home with each other? Maybe someone says, can I help you ground right now, or can we sit together on the couch and ground, and use some of those skills together right now?

Thank you. Yes, I can appreciate that when one is attempting to lead or prompting, that can be a little tricky to turn towards. Yet, if there’s some practice with this, and also knowing through experience where we can get, what the result of it is, being in service of that. This seems to lay some groundwork for, even as you talk about reestablishing or regaining, or just establishing, period, the physical intimacy, would you say these are some?

Yes. Because when we’re connected to our bodies, and we feel like the person who is right next to us in their body is safe, we are going to naturally feel more open to closeness physically, and it can reestablish that. So there’s emotional safety, and there’s physical safety, when we’re feeling physically safe. I actually am thinking to a moment, I know my husband wouldn’t mind me sharing this, because I’ve shared it before in trainings. So in my relationship, we both have our various relational traumas. I’m a sexual trauma survivor, and he’s been such a support to me. There is a moment where he had trauma activated, and when he has trauma activated, there’s a shutdown for him. For a long time, in our relationship, I had a narrative about that, of like: “Oh, he doesn’t care. This is how he’s abandoning me. He’s not there for me when this happens.” 

The first time I challenged that narrative in my head and attempted to regulate with him, I moved towards him when he shut down, I slowed down my breath, and let him know. Asked him if I could be close to him in that moment, and we breathed together, and I let him know I was there for him. He had such a release, and was able to have physical closeness with me. That felt really safe to him, when usually that feels like, if he’s feeling shame and he’s shutting down, he doesn’t want me around, because he’s ashamed, so he wants to pull away. So he was able to lean into physical touch and closeness for comfort also, and it was really special. I felt so close to him, he felt close to me, and it’s those moments that get us what we want. 

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“We want physical closeness, and we want emotional connection. But we have to be vulnerable and take risks to support each other to get it.”

Wow, thank you for sharing that! I’m very touched by that story, and just recognizing how easy it can be for the person on the receiving end of what looks on the outside as like a shutdown and what fears or interpretations, like you said, of maybe he’s not with me or abandonment and just the anxiety. So that can feel like, for a lot of people, where are you, or questions. You’re trying to track, and that can feel like further wanting to go into the shell for the other partner. So this is just a beautiful example of what you’re recommending, and the soothing and regulation and co-regulation. So this allowed your husband to feel you and see in you and feel that co-regulation, regulating, as you were offering that regulation and just that comfort and that safety that allowed him to start to soften and engage. It’s so beautiful. Because that’s typically what we want and what the intention is, period. Yet, we get stuck in our tendencies. So thank you for sharing that. 

Of course. 

Well, I know we could chat for a lot longer. I know we’re winding down here. Is there anything you want to say before we turn towards just how people can get your book, and anything else you want to encourage people to connect with? Is there anything you want to say?

Well, just that it can feel so isolating to either be a sexual trauma survivor or their partner, and trying to make a relationship work. It can feel so isolating, but you’re really not alone. I thank you, Jessica, for the work that you do. I so appreciate your time today. If anyone who hears this is feeling alone, know you’re not alone. Reach out to therapists. You’re welcome to reach out to our practice, or check out my book. But we’re not talking in our society about these moments enough, and how trauma impacts these moments. I hope that we do, and we can normalize this.

Absolutely. So what you are offering, can you say the name of the book again and where you invite people to get that?

Yes. So the book is Loving Someone Who Has Sexual Trauma. It’s by me, Megan Negendank, and it is sold everywhere books are sold. You can also check out our practice at LoveHealGrow.com. Our therapy center’s name is Love Heal Grow. You can follow me on Instagram, @Megan.LoveHealGrow.

Beautiful. So if people were to go to your website, is this for people that are in the area? Or are there other things that people might be able to find there? 

So our website has information about working with our therapists, if you live in California. If you live outside of California, we do have some coaches that can offer different relationships’ support. There’s also a lot of free resources on the website for trauma survivors and folks working on their relationship. 

Wonderful. I’ll make sure to have the link to your website, to your book, as well as your social media handles. Thank you again, Megan, so much for all that you’ve shared with us and what you’re doing in the world.

Oh, thank you so much. Thank you to you too, Jessica.

Signing Off

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching