How to Talk to Your Partner About a Past Sexual Assault, According to a Clinical Psychologist
Do you need to tell your partner that you were sexually assaulted? The answer may be different for everyone, according to a clinical psychologist.
This is a very personal decision with no one-size-fits-all answer. Think about why you feel compelled to keep your past a secret. Are you blaming yourself for the incident? Do you think he would judge you or see you differently if you shared it? Understanding your "why" can help you know which way to go.
Our assumptions about what others think of us often indicate how we judge ourselves. For instance, if you are worried your guy would see you as "bad" or "damaged" because of the assault, you may actually see yourself that way. If this applies to you, I’d urge you to consult a therapist, who can help you work through it and reduce that negative self-talk. When you’re feeling confident and strong, you may be more comfortable bringing it up and less fearful of your S.O.’s reaction. (Plus, if you reveal trauma from your past and a guy is inconsiderate about it, that’s worth knowing.)
Another thing to consider is how the secret impacts your relationship. If you’re holding back when it comes to sex, intimacy, or trust, it may be a sign the assault has more impact than you think. Every couple is different, but sharing your history can create a deeper, more vulnerable—and ultimately more satisfying—relationship.
is a clinical psychologist in New York City specializing in weight management, relationships, and life transitions.