February 7, 2014

5 Exercises Men Can Do to Take Back Their Sexuality After Abuse

In part five of our six week series on sex, relationships, and healing sexual trauma with Ben and Jen Rode and Valerie Taormina, Valerie will share with you some valuable exercises to help you release the pain of abuse and reconnect with your sexuality.

Due to the high volume of interest from my first article Behind the Iron Façade and Into the Male Heartwe’ve decided to take this last article in a different direction than the original intention.  Instead of diving into the topic of self love (maybe Rachel will invite me back to explore this later), I’m going to take us back to male sexuality and provide a few exercises that male readers can try that might improve their personal situations and transform the impact of male sexual trauma in their relationships.

Before I begin, I must address 2 things that I regretted to state more clearly in my first article:

1.) It must be noted that the “trends” reported in the first article were based on my experience working with clients.  My data is based on a relatively small population size and not on a comprehensive study (on a statistical basis my findings would not be considered reportable). With that being said, the “trends” reported were drastically represented within my sample population.  My findings were so surprising to me that I think sharing them has value.  In fact, in retrospect, I’m actually surprised that the only person who openly expressed this criticism to me was my aunt… got to love family! After releasing the article I was in awe of how many men reached out to me personally, shared their stories, and confirmed that the trends were true for them.  I don’t think there are many outlets for the type of information I collected to be shared; I am aware that my profession is rare and therefore so is the information I receive.  Getting behind the male façade is in some ways like exploring the depths of the ocean floor; while we know there is so much more to learn, when our submersible finds a crazy new sea creature you best believe a photo of that animal is in National Geographic the next day.  Consider the “trends” reported to be something like the sea creature and use it as a tool to begin investigating what else may be in the ocean of the male heart. Maybe, just maybe, this information can spark further investigation…fingers crossed.  

2.) Acknowledging male trauma does not mean that we should victimize men.  This point was illuminated by a male colleague of mine who does a lot of work with men in the sex positive community in San Francisco.  As he shared his reflection it was a total Homer Simpson moment where I said “doh” and sort of smacked my foreheadPersonally I think the victimization of women has been something that has actually taken away from women’s empowerment, and I surely do not want to replicate this model for men.  However, I feel if we are going to acknowledge trauma we need to acknowledge the whole picture, what really is going on, and this authentic conversation can bring forward more effective solutions.  In fact, I believe this could lead to a balance and an overall reduction in victimization.  If men are feeling stuck, closed down, and disconnected then perhaps acknowledging something that isn’t being addressed can help them open up, address their emotions, and normalize the situation.  If things remain in the shadow they will never fully experience the sun.

Okay, now that I have those little monkeys off my back I am now going to give you 5 tips that men can try to counteract the effects of trauma.  I have found that these things tend to make a difference for almost everyone I have tried them with, which is why I feel I can share them with you without fully knowing your sexual history.  

1.)  Acknowledge your pain

There was a time in your life when you cried and didn’t feel bad about it.  At some point you may have learned that this was a behavior that would not benefit you, so maybe you cut yourself off from emotion.  This is one way that we numb ourselves.  Funny enough numbing ourselves to pain also numbs our self from pleasure.  Some men that I’ve worked with can’t remember crying in their adult lives.  I’ve heard several cases of men who reported actually wanting to cry but felt it was impossible.  For instance, a parent died or their wife miscarried, and they felt like crying but the response didn’t happen.  Often a double layer of shame then happens, the shame that originally shut off the emotion and the shame of no emotion in a rare social situation when others expected emotion of them.   There is also the reverse situation where something really exciting happens but somehow you don’t feel fully happy and feel shameful that you aren’t fully happy.  I could go on and on with examples.

My suggestion is to acknowledge your emotions, and yes, it’s pretty much that simple.   Actively set aside time to write or speak out loud what’s in your head, what you’re sad about, angry about, hurt from, et cetera.  As you’re telling your story notice if you feel any place in your body that’s congested, tight, uneasy, then close your eyes and give yourself permission to feel it.  If the feeling is sadness, see if you can allow yourself to get really sad.  If your emotion is anger, see if you can allow yourself to get really angry.  Feel it, don’t numb it. Instead, coax it out.   

If you can’t actively identify your emotion try the reverse situation.  Notice if there is any part of your body that is congested, tight, uneasy, then close your eyes and see if you can locate an emotion or a memory attached to the area.  Then allow yourself to feel whatever comes up.

Bonus points if you cry or break something :)

2.)  Share your story with a trusted peer

Some of you just read this title and thought “there is absolutely no way I am talking to another man about emotions”.  Those of you who say this are precisely the ones who will benefit the most from this exercise.  In our society we have not only taught our men to shut down emotion but we’ve also told them not to talk about their emotions, especially to other men.  If any of you have ever experienced a time when you openly expressed your emotions to another man my guess is that you remember the conversation like it was yesterday.  Reality is the stuff you deal with is the stuff other men deal with, and just as much as is true for women.  The difference is, women are allowed to speak to each other about that pain. It’s not only socially accepted, it’s expected.  Set aside time with a male friend and ask them if you can share something personal.  Preface the conversation by acknowledging that it’s probably an unusual conversation.  Let them know you aren’t expecting advice or anything, but that listening will be enough.  Let them know that if they would like to share too, you would love to listen back. 

Bonus points if you finish the conversation with a hug :)

3.)  Practice receiving

You may not see the connection of this exercise to trauma but I guarantee it helps.  Often trauma causes a disconnection with yourself and others, especially sexual trauma where trust is broken.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you become anti-social or something but instead what often happens is a “do it on my own” or  “I can only trust myself” mentality develops.  Actively practicing allowing others to contribute to you will create balance and connect you more deeply to your own desires.  My recommendation is a 30-day challenge where everyday you ask at least one person for a favor, for help, or to do something for you.  Actively keep track of the requests you’ve made and the benefits you are experiencing in your life.

Bonus points if you increase the amount of requests per day.

4.)  Give up the stimulants and the “end goal” during masturbation

Some of you are immediately tightening up at the mention of masturbation.  I find that most people in our society, regardless of how sexually progressive they think themselves to be, find masturbation in some way shameful.  In my opinion our societal bullshit around masturbation is one of the biggest jokes out there.  We are given these amazing bodies with the capacity to feel absolutely incredible and yet we are taught from a young age not to touch ourselves, that it is somehow dirty or wrong.  Another way of looking at it is we have been taught to deny ourselves pleasure and self-love.   The capacity that most of us actually experience our own bodies is miniscule compared to what is possible to feel.

Therefore, my recommendation is to become a master at loving yourself (preferably daily doses). If you rely on pornography or stimulants of any kind, or find that you are stuck in some sort of habitual behavior, change things up.  Also try giving up ejaculation as an end goal; take the pressure off your body, and learn to love all phases of your anatomy’s arousal.  Focus on the sensation in your body, explore new areas, new types of touch, et cetera.  If you happen to be a man that comes to climax quickly see if you can take a short break and go again.  Some men that think they are early ejaculators are in fact multi-orgasmic.  It’s your body so take yourself for a spin and see what you can learn.  Learning how to drive your own body is the first step toward being “driven” the way you want.

Bonus points if you show your new findings to a lover.

5.)  Stop asking your partner to cum on queue

As I addressed in my previous article, many men suffer trauma from being unable to please their partner in bed.  Since each woman is wired differently, instead of trying to give you tips on how to please her, I thought it would be more effective to tell you something to avoid doing that most men screw up.  If you’ve made this error in the past, please don’t worry at all, its incredibly common behavior that most women don’t speak up about.

The female orgasm is like an elusive snow leopard--if it’s chased, most often it will run away. Just like your body is different from other men, women vary too.  Some women find it almost impossible to orgasm and others are quick and multi-orgasmic.  Almost every woman I have talked to has expressed frustration by the pressure put on them to “perform” and wished their partners would understand that it all feels good.  The less pressure you put on your lady the easier it can be; it’s about the journey not the destination. So….it’s WONDERFUL that you want to please your partner, but asking her to cum on queue only works in porn.  Chances are if you’ve ever actually experienced a girl “cumming on queue” she was faking it.  The less you can focus on climax and more you can focus on the connection, the subtle sensations, and her body language the closer you will get to actually achieving your desired outcome.  Not pressuring her to cum will save you a ton of time, a ton of frustration for yourself and your partner, and a lot of sweat.

Bonus points if you stop judging sexual performance by orgasm

I hope this article has helped you in some way. I will be diving into this topic in more depth on Rachel Grant’s radio show on February 11th with Ben and Jenn Rode at 6p PT / 9p PT. You can tune in here!

If you’re interested in learning more or scheduling a free discovery session email me at coachvaleriet@gmail.com.


Valerie Taormina is a certified somatic sex educator currently working in the greater Bay Area. Her focus is on expanding male sexuality and assisting men with overcoming sexual trauma and emotional blockage, but her essential purpose is to help both men and women develop a deep level of self love and fulfillment. She helps individuals from all backgrounds fall deeply in love with themselves, and reconnect with their bodies so that they might create their purpose, and live a life filled with sexual, intellectual, and emotional satisfaction. She does this through physical and energy related work, with the belief that sexual enlightenment can open up multiple pathways to lasting gratification in one’s life.

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