Trauma deprivation is rooted in profound shame, and the deprivation the person imposes on him or herself is punishment for being unworthy. The deprivation can be imposed on any part of a person's life, such as money, sex, food, work, or social relations. Such a person seeks to gain power and control by taking no risks that result in exposure or their addiction. This individual is not only afraid, but horrified at the thought of being sexual.
Lisa, a woman in her mid-fifties, has been working with me for almost a year. She has been in several relationships but reports that being sexual is "difficult."
"What do you mean by difficult?"
"I dread being sexual," she answers. I find it almost intolerable."
Lisa's reaction is a typical response for a person with sexual aversion. The idea of being sexual can cause marked distress, including headaches, dissociation, nausea, anxiety or panic attacks, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and body memories.
Like many people who suffer from sexual aversion, Lisa is an expert in avoiding an act she has come to dread. She is an attractive woman; however, she wears baggy clothing that successfully hides her body. She cannot afford to call attention to her figure or have anyone find her attractive.
When Lisa does enter a relationship, she maintains an arsenal of strategies that allow her to avoid being sexual: she has a headache, she's too busy, or she initiates physical contact at inappropriate moments, such as before company arrives or she has to leave for work. The planning and execution of the avoidance are just as powerful and consuming as the acting-out behavior, but the goals are the opposite.
Like the acting-out side of the cycle, aversion is usually based in traumatic wounding. This is true for Lisa.