The Spiritual Impact of Abuse on Children

Child abuse violates every aspect of a child s life their world, their self, their future and their faith. We know this from both the research literature and clinical experience. A child is, by definition, in process. Children are vulnerable, dependent and easily influenced. They do not know very much and are learning how relationships work, what is good, what is bad, what I means to be male or female. They are developing in every way and anything growing can be shaped. We believe good nutrition is Important for our children because what they consume will affect their bodies not only now but also when they are adults. Raising children in an environment of love, truth, wisdom and patience shapes their characters. Raising children in an environment of fear, evil, deceit and pain shapes their characters as we will.

*Profound Learning*
The effects of ongoing sexual abuse on the life of a child and on their adult future are, needless to say, profound. Those of us who have worked with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse know that one of the areas that are profoundly impacted by that abuse is the survivor’s relationship to God. We have also had the experience of teaching a much-needed truth to someone and recognizing that it would not go in the truth somehow does not penetrate. It is a common clinical observation among abuse victims that truth may be assented to intellectually, but it does not seem to enter the life and heart in a transforming way. I would like to suggest three reasons why that might be so. I will then offer some thoughts about how we might help those we are working with to experience the truths they can often so easily recite.

*Frozen Thinking*
The first block in this obstacle seems to be that survivors thinking often appear to be frozen in time. A woman who was chronically abused by her father for fifteen years thinks about herself, her life and her relationships through the grid of abuse. Trauma stops growth because it shuts everything down. It brings death. The input of other experiences often does not alter the thinking that originated within the context of the abuse. So a woman may have encountered many trustworthy people since her childhood abuse, but she still does not trust. She may have heard thousands of words about how God loves her, but she believes she is trash and somehow an exception to that truth.

*Concrete Thinking*
The second block is that the abuse was processed by a child mind and children think concretely, not abstractly. Children learn about abstract concepts like trust, truth and love, from the concrete experiences they have with significant others in their lives. Mommy and daddy label love and trust and truth for them and those labels are rooted in concrete experiences with their parents.

*Learning by Natural Analogy*
Third, children (like adults) learn about the unseen, or the spiritual, by way of the scene. God often teaches has us eternal truths through the natural world. We grasp a bit of eternity through looking at the same. We learn about the shortness of life by the quick disappearance of a vapor. Jesus taught this way as we will. He said He was bread, light, water and a vine. Jesus, in His very essence, is an example of this. He is God in the flesh. God continually brings eternal truths to us in ways we can understand.

*Applying Discordant Truths*
If we consider the Impact of thesis factors we will see that many survivors exhibit this quality of thinking frozen in time by grasping the abstract through the concrete lessons of abuse and expecting the unseen to mimic what they we are taught in the seen. God is viewed through the lens of abuse. The knowledge they have appears rooted in the Word of God. Knowledge person- A child is, by definition, in process. Children are vulnerable, dependent and easily influenced. They do not know very much and are learning how relationships work, what is good, what is bad, what I means to be male or female. They are developing in every way and anything growing can be shaped. ally applied or experienced is rooted in the lessons of abuse. Consider the following examples. Sarah is five. Her parents drop her off at Sunday school every week. She learned to sing, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Sarah’s daddy rapes her several times a week. Sometimes she gets a break because he rapes her sister instead. The song says Jesus loves her. It says He is strong. So Sarah asks Jesus to stop her daddy from hurting her and her sister. Nothing happens. Maybe Jesus is not so strong after all. Or at least, He is not as strong as her daddy. Nothing, not even Jesus can stop her daddy. The people who wrote the Bible must not have known about her daddy. A child is told to get down on her knees nightly b her bed and pray with her father. As he tucks her in he molests her, saying, Why are you such a whore that you make me do this after we have prayed? It is not difficult to see from thesis two examples what kind of spiritual lessons are being learned. It is also not hard to see what deep roots such lessons would have. You do not have to know very much about learning theory to grasp the profound Impact of such experiences on a life. The abuse, due to the intensity of the traumatic experience, shapes the control beliefs by which all other information is processed.

*The Healing Touch*
What response can a counselor or pastor give that will be powerful enough to overcome such obstacles? If simply speaking or teaching the truth is not sufficient, then what else is required? I believe that those members of the Body of Christ who have been called to walk with survivors become the representative of God to them. The reputation of God is at stake in our lives. We are called to live out in the seen, in flesh and blood, what is true about who God is. From Proposition to Encounter Early on in my work with survivors I worked with a woman who had been chronically abused and who seemed unable to really grasp Gods great love for her. She could recite the Scriptures about that love but it seemed to apply to others and not to her. I clearly remember getting down on my knees and begging God to help her see that He loved her. His response to me was basically this: You want her to understand how much I love her? Then you go love her in a way that demonstrates my love that makes it real to her. In other words, we are to demonstrate in the flesh the character of God over time so that who we are reveals the truth about God to the survivor. This is not in any way to deny or underestimate the power of the Word of God. However, often that Word needs to be fleshed out and not just spoken for us to truly grasp what it means. Coming to the Cross The second thing I do with survivors is to help them put down deep roots in the story of the crucifixion. I find it effective to do this work much later in the counseling process in part because through the relationship they have developed with me (though far from perfect) they are much better able to grasp the truths of the Word of God. If I have entered into their suffering they can better understand Gods entrance into their suffering. If I have been safe then they can better grasp God as their refuge. Out of their experience in the scene world they can better comprehend what is true in the unseen.

Grappling with some of the truths of the cross is critical because the cross is the only place one can go to reconcile the truth of abuse and a loving God who hates evil. The evil that has been done to them, the love of God for them and the holiness of God, all come together in the cross. We usually begin at a place where they are struggling to understand why God has allowed a particular thing to happen. I then suggest a small portion of Scripture (often just one or two verses) and send them home to read it daily, asking God what He would teach them. For example, I gave the John 19:23 to a woman who had been repeatedly gang-raped as a teen. In that verse it says, and the soldiers took his clothe has. She returned the next week saying over and over, They took his clothe has, the took his clothe has. I never saw that before. She saw for the first time that Christ knew what she felt for He had entered into her suffering and humiliation. It was a real turning point. The cross demonstrates the extent of the evil done to them. The cross demonstrates the infinite love of God for them. The cross deals with the sins of the survivor.

It covers sinning, being sinned against and suffering. This is not work I do for my clients. It is work that arises naturally out of our discussions together and it is work I direct them to do. It has far more power in it when they wrestle with the Scriptures before God when they wrestle with the very God who comes alive in their suffering and waIt’s to see what He will teach them. When He speaks in this supernatural context, the truth goes in. Wonderful Work This work is both difficult and a great privilege. The task of serving as a representative of God so that His character can be grasped and believed is far beyond any capability of yours or mine. It is the healing touch of God himself. It is a work that will take ally applied or experienced is rooted in the lessons of abuse. Consider the following examples. Sarah is five. Her parents drop her off at Sunday school every week. She learned to sing, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Sarah’s daddy rapes her several times a week. Sometimes she gets a break because he rapes her sister instead. The song says Jesus loves her. It says He is strong. So Sarah asks Jesus to stop her daddy from hurting her and her sister. Nothing happens. Maybe Jesus is not so strong after all. Or at least, He is not as strong as her daddy. Nothing, not even Jesus can stop her daddy. The people who wrote the Bible must not have known about her daddy. A child is told to get down on her knees nightly b her bed and pray with her father. As he tucks her in the molests her, saying, Why are you such a whore that you make me do this after we have prayed? It is not difficult to see from thesis two examples what kind of spiritual lessons are being learned. It is also not hard to see what deep roots such lessons would have. You do not have to know very much about learning theory to grasp the profound Impact of such experiences on a life. The abuse, due to the intensity of the traumatic experience, shapes the control beliefs by which all other information is processed. The Healing Touch What response can a counselor or pastor give that will be powerful enough to overcome such obstacles? If simply speaking or teaching the truth is not sufficient, then what else is required? I believe that those members of the Body of Christ who have been called to walk with survivors become the representative of God to them. The reputation of God is at stake in our lives. We are called to live out in the seen, in flesh and blood, what is true about who God is.

*From Proposition to Encounter*
Early on in my work with survivors I worked with a woman who had been chronically abused and who seemed unable to really grasp Gods great love for her. She could recite the Scriptures about that love but it seemed to apply to others and not to her. I clearly remember getting down on my knees and begging God to help her see that He loved her. His response to me was basically this: You want her to understand how much I love her? Then you go love her in a way that demonstrates my love, that makes it real to her. In other words, we are to demonstrate in the flesh the character of God over time so that who we are reveals the truth about God to the survivor. This is not in any way to deny or underestimate the power of the Word of God. However, often that Word needs to be fleshed out and not just spoken for us to truly grasp what it means.

*Coming to the Cross*
The second thing I do with survivors is to help them put down deep roots in the story of the crucifixion. I find it effective to do this work much later in the counseling process in part because through the relationship they have developed with me (though far from perfect) they are much better able to grasp the truths of the Word of God. If I have entered into their suffering they can better understand Gods entrance into their suffering. If I have been safe then they can better grasp God as their refuge. Out of their experience in the seen world they can better comprehend what is true in the unseen. Grappling with some of the truths of the cross is critical because the cross is the only place one can go to reconcile the truth of abuse and a loving God who hates evil. The evil that has been done to them, the love of God for them and the holiness of God, all come together in the cross. We usually begin at a place where they are struggling to understand why God has allowed a particular thing to happen. I then suggest a small portion of Scripture (often just one or two verses) and send them home to read it daily, asking God what He would teach them. For example, I gave the John 19:23 to a woman who had been repeatedly gang-raped as a teen. In that verse it says, and the soldiers took his clothe has. She returned the next week saying over and over, They took his clothe has, the took his clothe has. I never saw that before. She saw for the first time that Christ knew what she felt for He had entered into her suffering and humiliation. It was a real turning point. The cross demonstrates the extent of the evil done to them. The cross demonstrates the infinite love of God for them. The cross deals with the sins of the survivor. It covers sinning, being sinned against and suffering. This is not work I do for my clients. It is work that arises naturally out of our discussions together and it is work I direct them to do. It has far more power in it when they wrestle with the Scriptures before God when they wrestle with the very God who comes alive in their suffering and wait’s to see what He will teach them. When He speaks in this supernatural context, the truth goes in. Online Christian Counseling is a nice way to get suggestions.

*Wonderful Work*
This work is both difficult and a great privilege. The task of serving as a representative of God so that His character can be grasped and believed is far beyond any capability of yours or mine. It is the healing touch of God himself. It is a work that will take us to our knees if we will let it. It is a work that will make our hearts hungry for more God, so that we might bring His presence in very concrete ways into places where He has not yet been known.

Discover 8 Primary Causes of Sexual Deficit and How to Resolve Your Lack of Sexual Gratification

I love my spouse but the lack of sexual gratification is slowly driving a wedge between us. What can I do to save my sexless marriage? If this is your situation, you are not alone, help is here. In this article, I will talk about ways to save your sexless marriage and stop you from having an affair. Sex is an important part of marriage and the lack thereof can break a marriage.While it is true that we all differ in our sexual desires from time to time, we must however make sure that those differences are not affecting our intimacy.

There are a number of reasons why a couple’s sexual life dwindles over time but these very reasons may end up snuffing out the love you feel for each other.

That said, below are some things that kill sexual desire.

1. Body odor-disgusting odors are a huge sexual turn off. Good personal hygiene are essential to get rid of body and vaginal odors.

2. Mouth odor-practice meticulous oral hygiene to prevent bad breath and stop your embarrassment.

3. Tiredness and lack of energy- if it becomes a long-term problem, it will affect your quality of life and daily activities.

4. Children- couples may shy away from sex once they start having children. It is important to make time for each other away from the kids so as to keep the marriage fires burning.

5. Lack of enough sleep

6. Exhaustion

7. Depression – a depressed spouse may give up on life hence it is important to address the issue early enough so as to prevent terrible consequences.

8. Biological changes such as when a woman is in menopause

If these are some reasons why your sex life is in the doldrums, then you need to decide to do something about it before it’s too late. How do you solve the above problems so you can save your sexless marriage

If lack of sleep is a problem that makes you tired and uninterested in sex, then you should see a sleep specialist to help you out. You owe your marriage that. Do the best you can to wash and brush morning and evening so you don’t emit bad odors that turn your partner off. If halitosis and body odor are a problem, again see a physician to help you out.

When you are depressed, you lose interest in everything, so seeing a therapist might help, plus it is important that you have good nutrition and exercise so your energy levels don’t drop.

If you are struggling with intimacy in your marriage, try talking openly about it and if you still can’t figure out what the reasons for your sexless marriage are, then consider seeing a professional counselor for help. It might be that psychological reasons are the culprit. One of you may have suffered sex abuse in childhood, thus making dealing with sexual intimacy hard as it will trigger memories of a horrid past.

If you are depriving your partner of sex just for selfish reasons or because you don’t feel like, you are setting your marriage up for failure. Stop your sexless marriage and learn to practice generous giving of your bodies to one another. Live unselfishly, serving your spouse through your sex life, make a conscious effort to spice up your sexual life and you will both reap the rewards.

Interiew with Aline Zoldbrod, Author of “Sex Smart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life”

We are pleased to have Aline with us today as she gives as insight on how non-sexual family of origin issues form a persons sexuality.

Irene: Aline, your book “Sex Smart” is a book like none other. Please tell our audience what your book is about.

Aline: “SexSmart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What to Do About It” explodes the myth that sexual development is simple and Straight forward. SexSmart’s central message is that healthy sexual development actually is quite varied and complicated. We each come to our adult sexuality having walked down our own special path. And many families in which there was no specific, sexual abuse actually do cause profound damage to childrens’ developing sexuality.

SexSmart explains how the way you were raised in your family– whether you were touched nicely or cruelly or not at all, whether you could depend on your parents to take care of you, whether you got empathy, whether you trusted your parents and your siblings, what the power relationships were, and even whether you were encouraged to have friends–all deeply affect whether you will be able to enjoy sexual pleasure, and also whether you will feel safe being sexual with someone to whom you are emotionally attached. In SexSmart I describe fourteen “Milestones of Sexual Development.”

Irene: How does whether or not you got empathy from your parents have any bearing on sexuality?

Aline: Good parents are empathetic. They let themselves feel what their child is feeling, and then they respond to what the child needs. The more that the child sees that parents will respond to her needs, the more the child trusts that the energy expended to communicate is worth the effort. And so trust, and communication skills, build.

People who did not receive empathy from their parents have many problems with sexual(and emotional) relationships as adults. For instance, if you didn’t get empathy, you might be deeply afraid of getting hurt, so you may avoid getting into relationships altogether. You may be lacking in practice in communicating, or believe that it is pointless to talk about what you want (since you believe no one cares about how you feel.) So if you then do get into a sexual relationship, it is difficult for you to talk about your sexual likes and dislikes, or even to talk about it when a particular sexual activity is causing you anxiety, discomfort or pain.

If an unempathic parent was neglectful or abusive, there is a good chance that you will be chronically tense. If you can’t let yourself relax and be soothed, by definition, you will not be able to enjoy sexual pleasure in the context of a tender, steady relationship.
(You may still be able to enjoy the excitement of a new, lust-filled one, though.)

Irene: What inspired you to write this book?

Aline: Being able to have a sexual bond with a beloved partner is one of the great joys of life. It’s a spiritual, deep, health-giving experience. Sex shouldn’t be a source of anxiety, doubt, shame, or pain. It saddens me that so many people haven’t experienced their sexuality as a force for good in their life. I believe that reading and working through SexSmart can be a path to sexual enlightenment and sexual freedom for many people. As a sex therapist, I have met and helped hundreds and hundreds of men and women who are unhappy with their sexual selves. But as an author, I can help people I never even met.

There are so many women and men in America and in the world who do not enjoy being sexual. They don’t enjoy feeling sexual as a solo activity, and they don’t feel safe and comfortable being sexual with a partner. Some of them feel guilty. Some of them experience sex as needing to be a perfect performance each time, which spoils it. Some of them have sexual dysfunctions caused by anxiety and lack of education. And some had childhoods that were flawed in such a way that they literally do not know what it feels like to experience sexual tinglings and urgings in their own body.

You would be surprised to know how many people think that in reality, sexuality isn’t that great, that sexual pleasure is nothing much, and that all the emphasis on sex is a big media hoax! I hope that readers will use SexSmart as a map, guiding them to un-do the damage suffered by growing up in a dysfunctional family.

Irene: Why would some people think that sex is a big media hoax?

Aline: Each of us only knows the experience we have in our own body. People who have never experienced sexual pleasure in their own bodies have no reason to believe other people who insist that sex feels great.

There are large numbers of people who never learned that any kind of touch feels good. Many people grew up in “good” families with parents who were responsible, but unaffectionate. So they don’t unconsciously or consciously link touch and love. Others grew up with parents who were unbelievably anxious, and they absorbed so much anxiety from their parents’ touch that they associate touch with anxiety.

Far too many people grew up in families where they witnessed or experienced violence, which is devastating to sexuality. Witnessing or experiencing violence alters one’s feelings about being safe in one’s own body. I believe it can be as negative an experience, sexually, as some kinds of sexual abuse. Witnessing or being the direct victim of violence in your family teaches you that it’s not safe to love or trust. It teaches you that it’s not a good idea to ever let down your guard emotionally. It literally changes people’s “BodyMaps” so that it becomes impossible to relax, let go of control, and allow another person to pleasure you. The body remembers! If you were slapped in the face, for instance, you might flinch when someone you love tries to caress your face. If you came from a physically violent family, you can learn to experience sexual pleasure. But to do so, you have to process what happened to you, not minimize it.

Think of your associations to touch and trust as the first step in a
cascade of good physical and emotional associations you must feel first in your body before you can feel the building up of sexual arousal:

love=> touch => trust=> love=> safety=> drift=> float

love=> touch => trust=> love=> safety=> drift=> float => AROUSAL

Consistent, good experience with loving touch helps you to make
crucial links which you need. You need to be able to link love with touch, and touch with safety. If you can’t make these associations, you need to re-learn touch. Otherwise, you may never experience sex as pleasurable.

Irene: You claim that “sexual abuse” can happen in families in where there was not, literally, sex abuse. Please explain what that means.

Aline: Most people have an inadequate, shallow sense of what the building blocks of healthy sexuality are. Healthy sexuality is not based just in what you were told about sex, or in your appropriate or inappropriate sexual experiences in your family. It’s about what you witnessed and learned in your family about trust, safety, touch, gender relationships, anxiety, power, self worth, your body, and friendship. One basic motivation to be sexual comes from what you learned about being in relationship to another person. Was it worth getting close to another human being emotionally, let alone sexually?

People completely underestimate the effects of neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, or having an alcoholic or drug addicted parent on their sexuality. I have begun to call these other kinds of abuse “non sexual abuse.”

Sexual abuse is a horrible thing. However, I am certain that in terms of numbers of people affected, more people in America have sexual issues caused by growing up in families in which there was NON-SEXUAL abuse–such as lack of loving touch, alcoholism or drug abuse, physical violence, emotional abuse, or neglect–than were hurt by actual sexual abuse.

Irene: What would be some sexual issues that are caused by, what you say, “non-sexual abuse”?

Aline: Well, as an example, let me just pick the Milestone of Touch, and show you two lists from SexSmart. Readers should ask themselves what are their associations to touch.
You can’t enjoy sex if you don’t like touch. I like to say that touch is the “Ground Zero” of sexuality. People who had a good experience with touch have wonderful associations to touch.

Here are some good associations from my patients. Touch equals: pleasure, relaxation, fun, softness, good memories, comfort, normal, help, connection, I’m worth touching, calming, indulgence, massage, deep breathing, good mother, good father, sensuality, a worthwhile activity, good sexual memories.
good sexual memories

Contrast this to the associations to touch that people have when there was lack of affection, neglect, or violence. Touch equals: fear, controlling, out of control, awkward, pain, numb, tense/anxiety, guilt, startle response, bad memories, discomfort, weird, danger, confusion, what does this mean?, jumpy, is this proper? Uptight, holding breath, no mother, bad mother, no father, bad father, boring, a waste of time, no sexual memories.

Irene: Your hope is that people who read “Sex Smart” will see themselves in the book, or that some of the information will speak to them. What particular areas do you feel are the most important for the readers to relate to.

Aline: It’s funny. I have to say that every person reading SexSmart responds to different pieces of it. SexSmart discusses sexual development sequentially, beginning with birth and going through my fourteen Milestones of Sexual Development. (For instance, touch, empathy, trust, body image, gender identity, and so on.) Different readers’ families created problems at each Milestone. Readers absorb the book and highlight the parts that speak to them, personally, along with the workbook questions that challenge them the most.

Irene: In your practice, do you see more of one particular issue, than others? If so, what is it, and please explain why this particular issue is more prevalent?

Aline: Well, Irene, coming from a dysfunctional family can lead to just about every sexual dysfunction in the world, but I’ll comment on a few which I see frequently. The first is probably longstanding low sexual desire. People who grow up in families where there is very little tenderness, touch, caring, empathy, or safety have a hard time trusting in an emotional sense, and they also have an almost impossible time relaxing in their body. So it is common to meet people from difficult families who have never experienced sexual desire in their entire lives, because they have never allowed themselves to relax, breathe deeply, and allow sexual feelings and impulses to emerge and percolate through their bodies. They literally don’t know, can’t identify, and can’t even tolerate sexual feelings. So they don’t believe they can have sexual feelings.

Another typical effect of growing up with “non-sexual sexual abuse” is sexual addiction, especially in men. It is common for boys who grow up in unaffectionate, neglectful, emotionally abusive, or violent homes to discover masturbation as a way to self-soothe. When they were sad or scared, they masturbated. Having an orgasm is like a drug; it changes body chemistry and temporarily dulls painful feelings. It creates a habit of using sex as a crutch, a pattern where men feel that sex is their most important need or that sex is THE cure to unhappy feelings.

Irene: Your book is of importance for parents who want their children to grow up and have positive views of their sexuality. In what ways do you believe parents can affirm to their children that their bodies and their sexuality be accepted in a positive manner?

Aline: I think parents’ biggest obligation to their children is to address their own sexuality. How can you create a child with healthy sexuality if you aren’t comfortable using touch to soothe, or if you don’t feel happy in your own body, or if you think sex is dirty or scary, or if you believe all people of the opposite gender are evil or cruel? If your sexuality was damaged in your own family of origin, fix that first.

Abuse of all kinds goes down the generations. When you take the steps to stop denying what went wrong in your own family, when you have the courage to say “ouch!,” to get into therapy to change things, the buck stops with you. The brave person who goes into therapy and admits the pain he or she suffered can stop the cycle of abuse (of whatever kind) for all the generations which come after him or her.

Irene: I understand you saying that parents need to address their own sexual issues first. However, I would imagine some people don’t feel they have issues because they actually believe their beliefs about sex are correct. Some may even be influenced by religious beliefs. How do you propose to address these parents and have them be aware of the damage they are causing their children?

Aline: I think that most parents want their children to be able to grow up and enjoy being sexual once they are married. Conservative parents do want to make sure that children are celibate BEFORE marriage. I hope that SexSmart can get the word out to all parents about how important affectionate touch, empathy, and trust, and good power relationships are to children. If children are allowed to explore their own bodies, which is important, and if they also have these basic Milestones of Sexual Development, they will grow into sexually healthy adults. If you want to raise your child conservatively, I think you’ll find a lot of useful information about how to insure that your child turns out to be both responsive and responsible sexually as an adult.

Irene: Taking self-responsibility is the most important aspect of creating a healthy view of one’s own sexuality and what one does with it. Why do you believe that others often influence unhealthy views? What are some of the most common unhealthy views that our society has imposed upon us?

Aline: It is normal to be influenced by the people around us. It’s a fact of life. I wish that there were more normal looking people on TV and in the magazines. With all these thin, perfect, surgically enhanced, never-aging bodies around us, it’s hard for many women and men to feel that their own natural looking body is sexy enough. Sadly, a lot of people, women especially, seem to feel that only beautiful, thin women “deserve” to enjoy sex. Actually, as they say, the biggest sex organ is between your ears. How you feel about sexuality and being sexual is the most important determinant of whether you will feel sexual. Normal people have imperfect bodies. And imperfect bodies are perfectly able to feel sexual pleasure!

Irene: Yes, TV and magazines do portray a specific stature that our society seems to think is “normal.” So do books. A lot of the romance novels portray “sexy” women and men and readers escape by becoming the character. Why do you believe that people create their own reality through what they see or read?

Aline: Well, as far as we know, fantasizing seems to be a uniquely human trait. As long as it’s in balance, as long as people aren’t avoiding dealing constructively with issues in their own lives, there is nothing wrong with fantasizing. Sometimes, our fantasies help us see what our goals and dreams for ourselves are, in a way that can be constructive.

Irene: You want to reach specific populations with “Sex Smart.” Who do you think would benefit most by reading this book?

Aline: I would recommend SexSmart to anyone who is baffled about why you are who you are sexually, or for anyone who feels confused, unhappy, or ashamed of your sexuality.

I do think that SexSmart might hold a special key to understanding for certain kinds of readers: First, if you are someone who is terribly frightened of getting both sexually and emotionally close to another person, you can use SexSmart to understand your own fears.

Secondly, I hope to reach people affected by physical violence. SexSmart talks in detail about the changes violence caused in your Body Map, in your sense of trust, in your beliefs about gender relationships, and in creating anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Family violence may be common, unfortunately, but it is NOT normal, and it shuts down the ability to feel sexual pleasure in close relationships for many people.

Thirdly, if you feel you were destined NOT to have sexual feelings, SexSmart may help you understand why you feel that way. If your sense of being asexual is partly because of your family of origin, SexSmart can help you discover how to become more comfortable with feeling sexual stirrings in your body and toward others.Ironically, on the other hand, many people who have sexual compulsions, who feel insatiable sexual feelings, also find answers in SexSmart. Lastly, I want to reach people who grew up in homes where they suffered emotional abuse or neglect.

Irene: “Sex Smart” is not only a book to read, but also a workbook. Please give us a little insight about the workbook aspect of it.

Aline: As a therapist, I assign homework between sessions. Writing down feelings is an important part of processing them. I find that my patients make more progress in changing when they are active participants. They get more insights, and they move through pain faster. SexSmart is so full of information that unless readers highlight the text and choose and complete some of the exercises which fit them, they won’t get the full benefit. In the homework, I always make the reader write down what the positives are that they need to focus on–what they wished they had said or done, or what they need to do now to fix the problem. The homework can help the reader transform some sad memories and realizations into targeted plans for change.

I plead with you, readers, do the workbook! It’s kind of like when you have a vivid, detailed dream at night, and you want to get up and write it down, but you’re too lazy. And so you rationalize it and tell yourself, “Wow, that dream was so amazing, so unusual, so wild. I’ll be sure to remember it when I am up.’ And then, at 7:00AM, when the alarm goes off, you wake up and say, “Man, that was a wild dream I had last night. Something about a cake. Hmmm. Blue cake?? Hmm.”

And you’ve lost the entire message your unconscious was sending you because you were too lazy to get your rear end up and write it down. Same thing. Use the workbook in SexSmart!!!

Irene: Do you believe it is important to work with a qualified therapist when reading and doing the workbook portion?

Aline: I think it would be a very good idea to work with a qualified therapist reading and doing the exercises in SexSmart if you had a very traumatic childhood. If you look at the diagram of the Milestones of Sexual Development at http://www.SexSmart.com/solvingproblems.htm, and you find that you had problems with the first three Milestones, Touch, Empathy, and Trust; you should find a good therapist anyway, because it will be an investment in the quality of your entire life.

If you grew up with alcoholism, drug abuse, physical violence, neglect,
or emotional abuse, trust me, you did have a traumatic childhood. I find that people tend to “normalize” what happened to them. It’s painful to think of yourself as a victim. Most people think of themselves as survivors. In my work, I meet the most amazing survivors. But it’s common that they are doing great in every way except sexually. That’s where all the pain and trauma resides, walled off from the rest of their life, of their success. If you’re ready to read SexSmart, then you’re ready to confront your past. But get yourself some extra support. Don’t go it alone. There are certainly some readers who will be fine on their own. If you are reading it because you are curious about yourself, but your family was basically quite a good one, you’ll probably be fine.

If you THOUGHT you had a good childhood and then begin reading SexSmart
and find yourself disturbed by what you read, yes, get yourself some professional help.

Irene: Thank you Aline, this has been very interesting. Is there anything else that you would like your reading audience to know about your or your book?

Aline: Thanks Irene. I am grateful to you for the chance to talk in so much depth about
SexSmart. I would be so delighted if this Reader Views interview encouraged people who have grown up with alcoholism, drug abuse, neglect, or physical and emotional violence to begin exploring the ways their upbringing has hurt their ability to enjoy their sexuality.