Q: What advice do you give both male and female sexual assault survivors who want to have a normal sex life afterwards?
A: It's difficult to give advice that would be helpful to anyone who has suffered from sexual assault, because each sexual assault survivor is different and will respond differently to this trauma. But, I'll try to give some general advice.
First off, sexual assault survivors should know that they are not alone. Unfortunately, sexual assault is quite common in the U.S. (and around the world). The U.S. Dept. of Justice estimates that almost 1 in 5 women will be the victim of sexual assault at some point in their lifetimes. Even this is likely an underestimation, given that only around 30% of sexual assaults are ever reported to authorities.
Thankfully, there are many support services for people who have suffered sexual assault. For example, the National Sexual Assault Hotline can offer emotional support and put survivors in touch with local services that can help them. There is also the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the National Child Abuse Hotline . It's often most helpful for survivors to obtain private counseling from a trained therapist. Thankfully, UC Merced offers free counseling to all students. You can check out counseling.ucmerced.edu for more information about that.
I would strongly urge any sexual assault survivor to take advantage of these services. A major predictor of overcoming trauma is to get help and social/emotional support as soon as possible. It's crucial that survivors reach out and talk to professionals and trusted loved ones about what has happened to them. This is the first and often most important step in the healing process.
Beyond that, it's important to develop healthy sexual relationships that are based in trust and emotional support. Surviving sexual assault is something that people need to be able to talk about with their future sexual partners. This can be uncomfortable at times, but it's crucial in developing enjoyable and satisfying sexual relationships. By taking things slow and building up trust in romantic relationships over time, most survivors find that they can develop enjoyable and satisfying sexual relationships after suffering sexual assault.
For more information and helpful resources...
Q: Why does his penis keep slipping out during sex and how can we prevent this?
A: It's very common to have the penis accidentally slip out of the vagina during sex. One way to help avoid this is to use sex positions that allow the penis to have maximal penetration. These sex positions are those that place the vagina out front and center, such as the man-on-top (missionary) position with the woman's legs up over her shoulders (see picture below). If this is a frequent problem, then the side-to-side (spooning) position and rear-entry (doggy style) positions probably aren't the best, as these positions don't encourage deep penetration. Although, the rear-entry position can allow for deeper penetration if the woman lowers her head all the way to the bed and points her butt up toward the ceiling (see picture below).
This can also be avoided with more practice. Couple will naturally learn what positions, rhythms, and depths of penetration are the most pleasurable and the least likely to cause the penis to slip out. Try out some different positions and take it slow at first. Make sure you're at a good depth and position before trying to go at a fast rhythm.
Q: Is it healthy to want to have BDSM style sex?
A: Absolutely! Bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism (BDSM) is a collection of sexual fantasies and fetishes that have been around for as long as humans have. Roman poets were writing about it 2,000 years ago. There is even an ancient tomb painting of a BDSM threesome that can be found in Italy, which dates back to around 490 BC. So, BDSM is a long practiced and celebrated way of having sex.
Modern research has shown that people who practice BDSM are actually less likely to be sexually deviant (have sexual disorders or commit sex crimes), be mentally ill, or display problematic behaviors than the average person. If fact, studies find couples that practice BDSM tend to be happier, more satisfied and less likely to be unfaithful in their relationships, compared to non-BDSM couples. This is likely because couples who practice BDSM tend to be more communicative and explicit in talking about their sexual needs and fantasies.
The key to healthy sex is communication and enthusiastic consent, and BDSM is no different. Research shows that people who practice BDSM tend to spend a significant amount of time discussing what they do and do not like before having sex. This is a great way to make sure everyone's "on the same page" and everything that happens is consensual and fun for everyone involved. If everyone practiced this in their sex life, the world would be a better place!
Check out the following link for a good discussion of BDSM and how to do it safely: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-sex/201206/loving-introduction-bdsm
Q: Why does tensing your legs during sex help you reach orgasm?
A: Whether you're a man or a woman, having an orgasm involves tensing the muscles around the groin region. When we orgasm, many muscle groups in this area spasm uncontrollably. For men, this leads to ejaculation of semen. For women, this leads to convulsions of muscles around the vaginal walls that helps to pull semen up and through the cervix to the uterus. This process involves activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which tenses the muscles in this region. By flexing these muscles voluntarily, it helps to prime them for orgasm.
If, on the other hand, you try to keep these muscles relaxed, it can actually delay orgasm. That's a good tip for any guy who want to delay orgasm. This is why sex positions that allow men to relax their pelvic muscles (such as the woman-on-top position) tends to help men "last longer" in bed.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.