"When you heal your trauma, you heal your nervous system. When you heal your nervous system, you heal your body, and when you heal your body, you heal your mind." -Dr. Holly Richmond
Dr. Holly Richmond is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Somatic Psychologist, and Certified Sex Therapist. Her book, Reclaiming Pleasure: A Sex-Positive Guide for Moving Past Sexual Trauma and Living a Passionate Life, provides an examination of both somatic and psychological factors in survivors' recovery. This book is a sex-positive guide to coming home to your body and reclaiming pleasure as your birthright. It can be your companion on your healing journey as you befriend your body with compassionate curiosity. It offers a three-step process consisting of control, pleasure, and connection. Please be advised that some of these quotes may be triggering if you, or a loved one, have experienced sexual trauma. If you'd still like to read through them but are feeling unsafe, you can try these grounding techniques. Talking to your therapist or a trusted friend is a good way to find a connection, rather than feel isolated in your pain.
"Reclaiming your sexual health is an indispensable part of your journey..."
"Sexuality is an experience of connection. It is how we express ourselves erotically—to others and ourselves—that lets us know our uniqueness is felt emotionally and physically. Sexual trauma dramatically reduces our range of expression, leaving us with fewer words, less tolerable access to touch, and more tenuous relational bonds."
"...most survivors need to embrace the power of “no” before they have their yeses."
"One of the foundations of your shift toward pleasure and passion is exploring how you see yourself. Specifically, do you identify as a survivor of sexual trauma or as a victim of sexual trauma... explore what labels you use to describe yourself and your experience."
"You are not your trauma ... begin to feel a separation between your self and your experience. Don’t give your trauma more power than it deserves."
"If you have not told your story to another person—if you have never spoken the words out loud—rest assured, it is not necessary in order to completely heal and fully reclaim pleasure."
"Sexual trauma doesn’t have to be violent; it only has to be non-consensual."
"The importance of the body cannot be overstated when reclaiming pleasure, joy, and fulfillment. Your body is wired for touch and connection, but when those experiences are frightening rather than curative, your world becomes entirely unpredictable and unsafe. Stick with your process of cultivating awareness and understanding to prime yourself for healing what hurts."
"Trauma isn’t the only thing that lives in your body. Pleasure, passion, and great sex live there too."
"Your feelings are information, not identification. You are not your symptoms, and your feelings are not permanent states. Even if the feelings you identify aren’t particularly positive, they are valuable"
"Only from a place of nonjudgment can you settle into relief, relaxation, and, ultimately, sexual gratification."
"Your willingness to investigate the most sensitive impacts of your trauma is not just praiseworthy; it’s courageous."
"Reclaiming pleasure—and taking steps toward a healthy sex life—requires you to amplify and enhance your voice and choice through an intricate dance of self-realization and communication. Asking for what you want and declaring what you don’t want is a prerequisite to pursuing deeper intimacy and better sex."
"To reclaim the essential facets of your sexual health, it’s time to affirm pleasure as your birthright, not an afterthought."
"The further you step into your self-worth, inclusive of pleasure, the more solid you’ll feel in your autonomy."
"Hiding your pain only makes it fight harder to be seen, and disowning it only means it owns you."
You are encouraged to keep a journal where you can write down arising feelings, thoughts, and sensations as well as your reflections on the stories, information, and answers to questions found throughout each chapter. While this is not a substitute for counseling or therapy, I believe it can be a great and powerful companion on your journey. You can even bring your journal to sessions and discuss it with your therapist. I'll leave you with one more quote from this wonderful book...
"Surviving was then, thriving is now. Surviving was getting through your days, thriving is enjoying them."
Thaina Cordero is a Certified Sexologist and Care Coordinator at Cypress Wellness Center. She has an MS in Educational Psychology, is a trauma-informed yoga teacher, and doctoral student of Clinical Sexology at Modern Sex Therapy Institute. She has completed Levels 1 and 2 of Clinical Foundations in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. She helps individuals and couples explore their sexual expression, needs, fantasies, preferences, curiosities, and difficulties as they create more pleasurable, satisfying, and fulfilling sex life and relationships. Click here to request an appointment.