The national survey on sexuality which was reported in the Australian Study of Health and Relationships published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 27, 2, 200 has a worrying finding. One in twenty Australian men and one in five Australian women reported that they had at some time been forced or frightened into doing something sexually that they did not want to do. Approximately half of these reported that they experienced sexual coercion when aged 16 years or younger. Few people who had experienced that coercion had talked to others, and very few indeed had talked to a professional about that unwanted sexual event.
This is a very discomforting statistic. It means that many Australians are unnecessarily burdened by the past in a way that must be negatively affecting their personal life.

This hidden upset about sexual interference worries me even more with the older population who was never educated to talk about sex. They were also imbued with the need for duty, the work ethic and to present in life with a stiff upper lip. Why does the saying “If you make your bed you have to lie in it” have to mean that someone who was an innocent victim of a sex crime have to carry that as a dark secret for all of their life?

Fortunately some folk find themselves in counseling unexpectedly and their hidden secret tumbles out and ultimatelyrelieves the pain.
Jenny was a fifty-two year old married woman who came to see me because Roland, her husband of thirty years, was worried about her inability to relax at any time and especially in the bedroom.

Jenny was a perfectionist with such high standards of excellence that she was doomed to always feeling like a failure. She was a compulsive cleaner who started at one side of the house in the morning, and would not sit down until she reached the other side in the evening. Sex was the last thing on her mind and she had a drawer full of excuses.

Jenny revealed a childhood of hurt and pain due to sexual interference by the next-door neighbour. Jenny had never told anyone about this because she thought that people would think it had been her fault. The counselor hastened to tell Jenny that a child is never to blame and that she needed to let go of her self-imposed guilt. After many tears, Jenny found the anger to her perpetrator that had been hidden inside all that time and began to work through it in confidential therapy sessions.

Jenny then went on to learn how to nurture herself and start to say no when other people expected her to do what they wanted. She let go of her superwoman role and was relieved to enjoy a much more relaxed lifestyle. She even started to look forward to sensual massages with Roland.

To feel what we feel, name it and talk about it, makes our life more understandable, less confusing and frightening. So many people are burdened with their baggage of emotional pain and hurt and still resist the professional help which can help them release a lot of the suppressed feelings. Without this release, those feelings can fester in your body and if you don’t get around to dealing with it, it will get you. Time and again I work with people who have developed physical disease and when you look in their past you discover a can of worms which need to be emptied. After the counseling, the illness often disappears.

A miracle? No, just the opportunity to dissolve away the hurt through being heard and understood by someone who is trained to assist without judging and reacting negatively.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Janet Hall is a psychologist, hypnotherapist, sex therapist, author, professional speaker, trainer, and media consultant. Jan consults regularly with print media and is a frequent guest on talk-back radio and current affairs shows.

Jan was a regular for two years on the Sex Life television program in Australia. Her user-friendly strategies offer practical solutions to sexual and relationship issues so that you can have the love and the sensational sex that you deserve. Jan has a unique ability to encourage people to clarify their situation and solve their own problems with both heart (trusting intuition and feelings) and head (with logical analysis and rational prioritization). She believes that people deserve to feel empowered and allow themselves to be the best they can for the good of all. Jan has a happy knack of making psychology user friendly.

Dr Janet Hall