While writing this article I have had trouble with pronouns.
Writing "his or her" and "she or he" every time feels very clumsy and gets in the way of the message I am trying to convey. Please do remember though, that men are victims of sexual attack too, and if your male partner has had such an experience you should treat him just the way a female victim should be treated.

The only rule when dealing with an abuse victim is this: There Are No Rules.

Reaction to sexual abuse is very like reaction to bereavement in that there is (or can be) deep suffering of many, many different types at the time, or in a few weeks, or several months after, or even many years down the track.
Just as every person deals with bereavement in their own way, at their own schedule, so rape and sexual abuse survivors deal with their assaults at their own paces.

Each abuse victim must be allowed to take as much time as they need to cope with their assault. Just because your partner "seemed fine" last week or last month or last year does not mean that tomorrow they will not be angry, or afraid, or revolted at what has happened to them.

Some rape survivors will react with revulsion to the idea of sex.
Some want loving sex in huge quantities to "wash away" the bad experience.
Some find it has no impact on the way they wish to interact with their loved one.

And some rape survivors have all these reactions at different times during their recovery.

If your partner has been mistreated in this way, it is likely he or she will have periods when sharing sex with you is the very last item on their list of Things I Would Like To Do.
Right after "Roll in cactus, smear self with honey, sit on anthill."

Here are a few steps to take when this is the case.

1. back off.
Asking or pressing for sexual intimacy when a person, attack victim or not, does not wish it is against the law and a Very Bad Thing.
It’s also a good way to lose your relationship.

2. discover what level of physical contact your partner desires at this moment.
Your partner may want you to cuddle her. Your partner may want to pace around the room. Your partner may want you to stand still while she throws crockery at you. She may want you to sit on the other side of the table.
Ask, pay attention to the answer, and act accordingly.
You are under no obligation to let the crockery actually hit you though.

3. find out whether your partner wishes to talk about his or her experience.
Discussion can be exactly what a person needs sometimes. And sometimes there is a great need to rage aloud at what has happened to one. And sometimes talking is not what oe needs all you want to do is loose yourself in some mindless activity.

It’s all about listening.

If your partner actually wants to share sex with you - with more intimate contact than cuddling - you could do worse than to treat her as though this is her first time.
Remember, whatever her assailant had from her, it was stolen
Your partner probably feels her sexual identity has been significantly cheapened. Remember what a great gift someone’s intimate contact with you is and treat it as such.

Dear Impartial,
I agree wholeheartedly that a person is a person, and things which have happened to them do not define them. However, in the confines of E2 with brief, concise accurate node titles being desirable I felt it neccessary to define the position in which the person I was addressing found themselves. Because of this I feel my title is correct.
I apologise to you and to anyone who has been offended or had their feelings hurt by my choice of title.
Trina's writeup should be taken as gospel, with one small amendment ....

There IS one important rule:

Do NOT make love to "a victim of sexual assault"

Make love to a person.

An individual who had something happen to them. That something is NOT who they are.

Dear Trina and y'all others reading,
I'd hope no-one would be offended by Trina's wonderfully detailed and positive writeup. But even the best of noders sometimes misses important points ;o)

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