Pucker Up- Village Voice

by Tristan Taormino

Healing Sex Staci Haines's revolutionary film reassures sexual-abuse survivors

"Do you think most porn stars [or prostitutes or strippers or lesbians or bisexual women or people who do s/m or non-monogamous people] were sexually abused?" I get that question a lot. The implication is that there must be some dark, dysfunctional, violent reason why "these people" do what they do or are who they are. My answer is simple: In the United States, there are more women who've experienced some form of trauma around sex-childhood sexual abuse, incest, rape, coercion, sexual harassment-than there are women who have not. (And there are plenty of men who've been abused as well.) Are there sex workers, queers, and leatherfolk who've been sexually abused? Yes, but the percentage of these folks who've been assaulted is no higher than that of lawyers, bank tellers, or teachers. With people whose sexual identities and practices fall outside the norm, it's often assumed that they are acting out their past trauma, which gives us only one model of a sexually active sex-abuse survivor: She or he is kinky, self-destructive, or just fucked-up.

Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. Over 60 million adults in the United States are survivors of child sexual abuse; according to estimates, one in six boys and one in three girls are abused before they turn 18. Add to that the figures on adult sexual assault-one out of six women and three out of a hundred men are victims of rape or attempted rape-and you'd conclude that the number of people impacted by sexual abuse is outrageous. While the amount of discussion, visibility, and activism around these issues has increased dramatically, there is still a dominant image of survivors as victims of terrible pain who need to work through the emotional and psychological issues. There seems to be one piece of the puzzle missing, one thing not spoken about: sexual healing. There are very few resources for people who want to explore healing their sexual selves and lives.

Staci Haines is the author of the bestselling book The Survivor's Guide to Sex: How to Have an Empowered Sex Life After Child Sexual Abuse. For nearly 20 years she has been organizing around and educating people about sexual abuse and how to recover from it through Somatics, a holistic approach through work on the mind, body, and spirit.

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