Lisa sits across from me with a shy smile on her face.
"What's up?" I ask, curious to dig beneath her expression.
"I didn't do my homework again," she says and smiles at me.
"Why not?" I ask.
"Oh... I guess I didn't want to."
"Why didn't you want to? What's really going on?"
"I guess I'm scared."
"Scared of what?"
"Of having sex."
Sexual withholding is another expression of sexual anger. Lisa has become unwilling to be sexual with her partner because, as a child, she endured sexual abuse, there is something inside her that will now allow her to be sexual or to give up a part of herself, even though she is willingly in a relationship with someone she loves--and has been in the relationship for years.
As children, abuse victims had to give up themselves and their bodies in order to survive. They are not going to do that again. So the anger at the original perpetrator gets played out in their relationships. The act of withholding is another way trauma victims create the illusion of power and control. The power and control that was stolen when they were sexually violated is now transferred to their unsuspecting partners.
When Lisa's partner of four years comes to her for sex, every part of her -- her emotions, her intellect, and her body -- screams. The very innermost part of her being says, "No. I cant give myself again." She may consciously or subconsciously feel that her refusal has put her in control, and she may feel temporarily relief. The feeling of control may produce a neurochemical release that produces a high, which paradoxically is also produced by acting out sexually.
"What's so scary?" I ask.
At this point, Lisa begins to cry, "I am so scared, so scared of letting go."
"What are you afraid is going to happen?" I ask.
Her tears turn to sobs as she explains.
(To be continued.)