Sexual Concerns and Dysfunction Related to Past Sexual Trauma

Authored by: Christine A. Courtois

Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138860254
eBook ISBN: 9781315716596
Adobe ISBN: 9781317507468


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My career working with trauma began accidentally. I was a graduate student running a residence hall when a number of rape/kidnappings occurred on campus and one of my staff members was a victim. Several of us responded by founding what turned out to be the first rape crisis center/hotline on a college campus. My exposure expanded to include incest and other forms of child sexual abuse when we began to receive calls from girls being abused in their homes and communities by family members and acquaintances. I was shocked by what I heard and began working to find ways to assist these women and children, bolstered by research being undertaken at the time on domestic trauma such as spouse/partner abuse and child physical and sexual abuse/incest and parallel research on war trauma as a result of Vietnam. Although I was in a counseling training program, little or no information was presented on these topics. It was a singular moment in 1980 when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) codified Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), giving traumatic stress a diagnostic home! Varieties of abuse have been my major focus for the past 40 years. I have been a clinician in outpatient and inpatient settings and have worked with the sexual repercussions of sexual assault with many clients. I have been active in training others in how to promote healing of this most personal of injuries.

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