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Dating

How can dating and relationship experiences be different for people who experienced sexual abuse as a child? How can non-abusing partners play a role in supporting their partners?


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About your hosts

A short description about the episode co-hosts


Dating & Child Sexual Abuse Podcast (Video or Audio Options)

A more in-depth podcast episode, giving context and personal stories associated with the topic.


Things you should and shouldn't say to a partner who experienced Child Sexual Abuse

A short video episode, focusing on two things you should and two things you shouldn’t say to someone who has experienced (or is experiencing) child sexual abuse.


Episode transcripts

Full transcripts and subtitles are available for you to download


A Recap

A written summary of the key advice in these episodes


Additional Tips

Any additional resources mentioned are highlighted here


 

About your hosts


Sophia - Founder of Secrets Worth Sharing (& Michael's partner)

Sophia (she/her) is a survivor of child sexual abuse and the founder of Secrets Worth Sharing, where she builds a community of having these difficult conversations with 'serious joy'.


Michael - Writer (& Sophia's partner)

Michael (he/him), or Tig, as most people call him, is Sophia's fiance, a freelance numismatist and writer. He has been dating Sophia since 2015. They live together in Brighton.


*Note: These are the experiences of a cis m/f couple, where one person has experience of childhood sexual abuse and one doesn't. We know that this experience doesn't count for everyone, but we hope that through sharing this experience we can encourage similar discussions within other couples about what works best for them.

 

Dating & Child Sexual Abuse Podcast

More In-depth Podcast, 20-28 minutes.


Don't like watching videos? Listen on Spotify instead!



In an extremely rare and intimate episode, Sophia interviews her fiancé Michael (also known as Tig), about how they have navigated triggers, the future, and disclosing to each other. This is the first time the two have exper discussed this part of their relationship publically. 

 

Things you should and shouldn't say to a partner who experienced Child Sexual Abuse

Video episode, 8-10 minutes


Sophia and her fiancé Michael (also known as Tig), share some advice about what has worked for them in navigating childhood sexual abuse. This is the first time the two have ever discussed this part of their relationship publically.



 

Download the Episode Transcripts


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To recap...

Things you should say/do to support your partner who experienced abuse

Why?

Try to notice any behaviour changes when having discussions with your partner

The person might not notice themselves that they are acting differently when talking about the abuse. They might get more hungry, or angry, or want more intimacy. Try to make a note of this and talk about it with your partner after the conversation so you can figure out how best to support them after.

Ask your partner if they would like you to bring up the topic every now and then

Sometimes the partner feels like a burden bringing up the abuse, and might be second-guessing whether this is a good time to have the conversation. By asking them if they would like you to bring it up, you help to take that burden away.

Take your ego out of the situation

Sometimes, your partner might need to talk to someone who isn't you about the abuse. That could be a friend, a fellow survivor, a therapist. The best thing you can do is not take this personally, and instead help them to get the support they need.

If the partner is disassociating, try grounding exercises

Disassociating is a feeling of being disconnected from your body or memories, and this can be a common side-effect for some survivors. Everyone is different with how they need support for this, but one thing that is really helpful is grounding the person - getting them to focus on their breath, or their contact to the floor and remind them of their surroundings. There are more examples of this in the resources section.

Things you shouldn't say

Why

Don't assume that your partner will not want sex and intimacy.

Many survivors are interpreted as though they are a burden, or 'broken' to their partners. Although they have had a negative sexual experience, this shouldn't define their sexual behaviour. Instead, have a conversation around active consent - what feels good, what doesn't feel good, and what could feel good but needs test. If the person is retriggered during a sexual experience, take a break, and then ask them if they would like to stop or continue. Sometimes the person might want to continue with intimacy but is annoyed at their trauma for

Don't assume that the abuse is 'the big explanation' for everything else in the relationship.

Many survivors question if their abuse experiences have shaped how and who they are. The truth is, we will never concretely know, and we also need to understand that the while the abuse might be a contributing fator to a situation in a relationship, it also needs to be considdered in conjuction with other factors for a healthy relationship.

 

Additional resources and tips


Michael mentioned that he sometimes helps Sophia with grounding exercises when she disassociates. There are a series of great grounding exercises for free on Bloom, a free series of courses and support services with survivors of sexual trauma.


Bonus Clip: On talking to our Children about on Childhood Sexual Abuse







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