Episode 34: Intimacy After Sexual Trauma with Dr. Nazanin Moali, Ph.D.
Episode 34: Intimacy After Sexual Trauma with Dr. Nazanin Moali, Ph.D.
Dr. Nazanin Moali is a public speaker, psychologist, and sex and relationship expert. Dr. Moali is also the host of her own podcast, titled “Sexology”, where she dives into the psychology of sex and intimacy. In this week’s episode, Dr. Moali and Alyssa discuss the impact that sexual trauma can have on us as well as the hope that comes with reclaiming our sexuality and discovering pleasure again.
Learn more about Dr. Moali and check out her podcast
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Alyssa Scolari [00:00]:
Hello friends. I hope everybody is well. I have some exciting news. We are adding a mini episode to the podcast every week coming soon. This episode is all about you. When I say mini I’m meaning it’s going to be about 10-15 minutes long and what this little segment is going to be called is Survived and Thrived Stories. After starting this podcast I started to get people from all over the world who were reaching out to me to talk to me about certain things on the podcast that I touched on, certain parts of my story, specific topics that they could identify with, and I realized that there are so many people who want to share their story and want their voice to be heard, but they don’t necessarily want to be identified or they don’t want to share all of their story, so I wanted to create this mini episode series called Survived and Thrived Stories where you can email in anonymously or if you want to sign your first initial or just your first name, however you want, and you can share as much or as little of your story as you want.
Actually, part of why I really wanted to do this as well and part of why this is so special to me is because I realized that when I first started sharing my story, I did it in writing and I did it anonymously and I actually wrote into a podcast. I wrote into a very famous podcast called My Favorite Murder because I wrote in about a trauma that I experienced that I was a victim of a crime and that was my first kind of like, it was the gateway into me sharing my story and into me I think ultimately starting this podcast and helped so much in my recovery and I want to give all of you the same opportunity.
If you are struggling with something, if you have been through a hardship, if you are experiencing PTSD or if you have recovered or you are in recovery, because I believe recovery is a lifelong journey, I want to hear from you. If there’s something you want to share, send it on in and I will read it aloud on the podcast and then of course I will comment and offer any kind of support that I can. Yeah, I just think it would be a really exciting way for everybody to get their voices heard and for you to be able to inspire so many others and to reach out to others and let other people who are sitting in the darkness know that they are not alone and that they can get through this.
Whether you want to talk about things that helped you to recover, whether you want to talk about what happened to you, you can send it on over. I want you to send it to the podcast email. That’s email@example.com. Again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, you will remain anonymous. I look forward to hearing from you. I would be honored to share your story on this podcast, so looking forward to it. Stay tuned and send me your story.
Hello all you beautiful people. Welcome to another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. You know who this is. I am your host, Alyssa Scolari, and I am happy to be here this week with Dr. Nazanin Moali. Dr. Nazanin Moali is a licensed clinical psychologist and a, is it double A sect or AAS-
Nazanin Moali [04:27]:
AASECT. I know, it’s a complicated name. Yes. AASECT.
Alyssa Scolari [04:32]:
AASECT, okay. All right. Certified sex therapist, her private practice is located in Los Angeles and she specializes in working with couples and individuals struggling with issues of sex and intimacy. She also hosts a weekly podcast called Sexology, introducing the most intriguing findings in psychology of sex and intimacy.
Welcome. Thank you for being here.
Nazanin Moali [04:59]:
Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m very excited about this conversation.
Alyssa Scolari [05:04]:
This is absolutely one of my favorite topics to discuss. It’s so difficult. I guess I’ll just turn it over to you. Could you just elaborate a little bit more on the work that you do? Are you mostly in private practice in addition to the podcast?
Nazanin Moali [05:21]:
Yes. I have a private practice that I help people with all sorts of sexual health functioning challenges. One of the things that I’m very passionate about is helping sexual assault survivors, people who have experienced sexual abuse, to reclaim pleasure in their life because I know that this is something we will talk about, but one thing that breaks my heart, that at times people, they don’t think they deserve pleasure after experiencing trauma or they think that their work is done when they process the horrible traumatic experience that they had, but I think it can be very important and empowering to cultivate pleasure back into our lives. That’s one of the things that I’m very, very passionate about, supporting my clients to navigate.
Alyssa Scolari [06:09]:
You are living my dream. I love it and I can’t thank you enough for doing what you do because it really is important. As somebody who is, I myself am a survivor of complex PTSD from a history of sexual abuse, and I’m also a trauma therapist and I’ve been in private practice for about three years now and one of the things that I see consistently showing up in my office for survivors of sexual trauma is, “How do I have any kind of semblance of sexual pleasure when I can’t even be in my body? I have so much guilt and shame.” You help people to be able to experience pleasure again, to be able to reclaim their sexuality and I think that that’s amazing. It’s amazing.
Nazanin Moali [07:11]:
Thank you. Back at yourself, that helping people with this processing of traumatic experiences of all sorts. I have lots of respect for people that are helping clients in early stages and all stages of processing the trauma. That’s really rewarding but can be challenging work at times.
Alyssa Scolari [07:30]:
Yes. Yes, on both of our ends. It definitely can be challenging but so rewarding. So rewarding. In your experience what typically happens after people have survived any type of sexual trauma or sexual abuse?
Nazanin Moali [07:49]:
Well people kind of have different responses afterward when it comes to their sexuality, their relationship with their sexuality. It’s my experience that some people can become kind of numb. They don’t want to have any kind of sexual encounter with their partner or with themselves. They are in this continue to live in this fight and flight mode and sexuality is not a priority for them in that phase.
I also see people that after experiencing assault, whether it’s abuse, they start becoming more sexual. That they want to have more sex, they want to explore their bodies more, and both of those things are normal. I think it’s important to think about normal meaning it’s common, in a way. That’s the common early phases of experiences that people have.
Also we can develop all sorts of different challenges as a result of experiencing a trauma. Not everyone of course that they experience trauma develop PTSD, depression, anxiety, but for people who develop the depression and anxiety and all of those challenges, that also impact their sexual desire, their connection with their sexuality, and that can be another hurdle. Trauma can impact the way that we see our world and that can impact our relationships in our life, which can in turn impact our sexuality as well. There are a number of different ways that experiencing a trauma can transform us.
Alyssa Scolari [09:25]:
Yes, and have you found it to be even extra difficult for people to talk about because there’s already so much stigma around sex and sexuality and experiencing pleasure, especially for women.
Nazanin Moali [09:43]:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Absolutely. First of all I think most people that I encounter, even whether in my office or outside, there are some level of discomfort talking about sex. At baseline many of us are uncomfortable and I think added to that, when we’re experiencing sexual trauma, that can even complicate things as well because sometimes people receive these unhelpful messages from others, kind of blaming them for their experiences. Perhaps you were wearing something provocative that led to this.
Alyssa Scolari [10:19]:
Right, or maybe you were drinking or what were you doing at a bar that late at night? Or things like that.
Nazanin Moali [10:24]:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Absolutely. Like was the person in your home? Maybe then you welcomed them into your home, so what could you expect? All of these horrible messages. If you’re feeling bad about sex to start with and then you experience some kind of negative messaging around us being part of what happened, which is ridiculous, so I think that also impacts how we’re feeling about our sexuality, the experience.
Additionally, for many people it’s okay and it’s common to experience some arousal during the experience of assault, during the abuse. It’s your body trying to protect you. What if you’re getting lubricated? All of those things are completely normally. It doesn’t mean that you were asking it, it’s just your body function of trying to protect you. I think that’s also important for survivors to know.
Alyssa Scolari [11:19]:
Yes. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this. This was the hardest thing and for me personally, as well as for the sexual trauma survivors that I work with, is the hardest thing for survivors to be able to integrate, is this idea of well during the abuse, during the rape I was aroused. Or even I orgasmed, and therefore I must have wanted it. That’s not at all the case, as you’re saying, because we can’t control our body’s physiological response to our genitals being stimulated.
Nazanin Moali [12:09]:
Right. Right. I agree with you and I think unfortunately many people internalize those negative beliefs of thinking about oh God, perhaps on some unconscious level I wanted it or I was okay with it or I gave them the message that it was okay. I love that you talked about yes that’s part of the experience, it doesn’t mean that you were giving anyone a permission to do anything. Again, it could be a part of your physiological response, as you mentioned. At times it’s a way for your body to protect you, so there could be a number of different reasons that physiologically you had that arousal.
Alyssa Scolari [12:46]:
When you say part of a way for your body to protect you, meaning like in the sense of pretending to go along with it in order to protect yourself?
Nazanin Moali [12:56]:
Great question. One of the kind of common challenges that I hear from some of my clients that saying, from female clients, that “I was lubricated so perhaps the lubrication shows arousal,” but lubrication is a way that your genitals trying to save you from experiencing tearing, all sorts of challenges. That’s why they say that it’s your body wanting to protect you.
Alyssa Scolari [13:22]:
That makes sense. That makes sense. Right, so lubrication again doesn’t necessarily mean that you wanted it. That’s your body’s way of trying to protect from any kind of intimacy or sexual trauma. Your body is preparing itself, trying to keep yourself from having tears or whatever kind of other injuries.
Nazanin Moali [13:43]:
Alyssa Scolari [13:45]:
That makes a lot of sense. Yes. I’m so glad that you touched on that because I think that that’s so hard for people. As you were saying earlier, some reactions that we have or some people go into sexual avoidance and some people become hyper sexual and when people come into your office do they realize that they have sexual trauma or do people typically come into your office for other reasons and then discover that they have sexual trauma?
Nazanin Moali [14:22]:
Well majority of my clients coming in for sex therapy knowing that they did the first part of the work. Kind of like knowing that I worked through the early phases of experiencing, kind of working through those difficult memories. Now they’re ready to explore their sexuality and sexual wellness piece. That’s why they’re seeking out a therapist. But at times I had clients that they’re coming in to me to say, “I don’t feel anything during sex. I have this numbness,” and when we’re unfolding and unwrapping different parts of their experiences we realize this is stemmed from their experience of being a survivor and not dealing with the completely treating symptoms of experiencing that trauma.
Alyssa Scolari [15:10]:
Yes. Could you talk for a few minutes about that experience of, this is something that I absolutely relate to, of the numbness around having sex? I know for a long time before I knew that I had sexual abuse I truly thought that I was broken so I would imagine that you have people that come to you that are just like, “I don’t feel anything when I’m having sex.” Could you talk about what that process actually is and what’s happening?
Nazanin Moali [15:38]:
Absolutely. I feel like for many of my clients when they experience their sexual trauma or other kind of traumas at times, they learn to disconnect from their bodies. They’re very aware of what happens in their mind, but sex is about sensation so it’s important to connect with our bodies and it could be a common experience but it’s something that people need to work through because in order for us to connect with our pleasure we need to be able to pay attention to sensations and all of those experiences we have in our bodies, so that’s part of it.
Again, it could be one way for you to manage working through those or experiencing those horrible experiences because sometimes during the traumatic experience you’re going through something really, really painful emotionally, physically, so consciously unconsciously you’re disconnecting from your body to protect yourself. Now that you are ready to embrace your sexuality and introducing pleasure, it’s really important to do practices that helps you to connect with your body again and work through the numbness.
Alyssa Scolari [16:49]:
Yes, so practices that focus on grounding yourself and being in your body.
Nazanin Moali [16:55]:
And kind of being okay yes, and experiencing pleasure.
Alyssa Scolari [16:59]:
Yep. Yep, exactly. Exactly. How do you help people work through the shame and the guilt around sex? Some people feel like after the abuse that they endured that they’re not even worthy of having pleasure. How do you help people with that? I know that’s a very broad question. I think it’s very individualized, but what are some things you might do?
Nazanin Moali [17:31]:
Well I think one important thing is to identify the beliefs that you develop because of experiencing, as the result of experiencing trauma. What are some of the core beliefs that you develop? What are some of the things that you, the messages that you have around your bodies, around relationship, around sex? Part of it is identifying those messages and also examining that. Are they serving you? Are these accurate? What else we can put in instead of this belief that would serve you better and is congruent with your values. The life that you would like to lead. That’s part of it.
Also equally important is seeing it as a way to get revenge on the person wanting to take away your sexuality.
Alyssa Scolari [18:19]:
I love it. Yes.
Nazanin Moali [18:20]:
That can be motivating for many people, thinking about this person, this experience didn’t break me. Perhaps I can work toward transforming myself and my experiences and my sexuality as the result of that.
One of the research that I’ve done in graduate school was around posttraumatic growth. That many people, when they experience trauma, after that possible to experience growth. Growth meaning that it’s not you’re going back to the even pre-trauma functioning. It’s more about going beyond and cultivating experiences that’s beyond what you were experiencing. That would be even if you had a mediocre sexual experiences before trauma, this experience can provide you with this opportunity to experience growth and change your relationship with sexuality, with people in your life. Kind of anchoring in that, that can help people to feel more motivated to work through that.
I think the other piece of it, thinking about incorporating pleasure back in your life. Not only sexual pleasure, it could be all sorts of pleasure because when we’re thinking we’re not worthy then we’re not taking care of ourselves, we’re not paying attention to our physiological needs, to our pain, all of that. Working on incorporating pleasure inside and outside the bedroom is also part of it and really working on cultivating awareness around your body. [inaudible 00:19:49] that focusing on doing grounding exercises, number of different exercises I give my clients to explore their body and finally their sexuality. That also can help people to feel more grounded and they’re going to have more experience of embodiment.
Alyssa Scolari [20:07]:
You start with non-sexual touch.
Nazanin Moali [20:12]:
Alyssa Scolari [20:12]:
Which I think is so important. I follow this one person on Instagram. Her handle is My Orgasmic Life.
Nazanin Moali [20:21]:
Alyssa Scolari [20:21]:
Have you ever heard of her before?
Nazanin Moali [20:23]:
Alyssa Scolari [20:24]:
She’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. She has these workshops and these seminars, it’s called Body Sex, and she helps women to become more grounded in themselves and be able to explore their sexuality and tap into their sexuality but she starts with non-sexual touch. For many people, and I know especially for me, non-sexual touch was all I could handle for a long time. I think that that’s important. Just even hand holding or even, and this is if you’re with your partner, but there also can be non-sexual touch even if you’re solo.
Nazanin Moali [21:08]:
Absolutely. I think definitely with partners, again kind of like checking in with yourself about your readiness on whether to introduce touch or not. At times we start as you said with hand holding or it could be caressing different parts of the body while you have the clothing on. We’re not removing any clothing. That can take awhile and then after that when you’re ready you can escalate things.
Also as you mentioned, even when you are practicing solo, exploring putting lotion on different parts of your body and paying attention to the sensations, smells, all of those good things. You can practice this element of paying attention to your body. I think that’s very important.
Also breathing. Connecting with your breath can also be very powerful because when we’re ready to be with a partner or we’re ready to introduce solo sex, it’s important to also to use our breath as a way to anchor ourself in our bodies. That could be one tool.
Alyssa Scolari [22:11]:
To use our breath as a way to stay grounded.
Nazanin Moali [22:13]:
Yes, and being focused in the moment because if we’re connecting with people sexually, one common experience that many survivors have is they disassociate. They kind of leave their body and that’s common and you can use your breath to anchor yourself back into your body.
Alyssa Scolari [22:32]:
Okay. That’s really, really interesting and makes so much sense now that you’re saying it. I had never thought of that before but yes, it makes so much sense.
Nazanin Moali [22:41]:
Alyssa Scolari [22:42]:
Such great, great tips and tools. I do want to be clear for the listeners out there that this is a process, which I know you can speak more on, that takes awhile.
Nazanin Moali [22:57]:
Alyssa Scolari [22:58]:
We can’t expect this to happen within a week.
Nazanin Moali [23:01]:
You’re absolutely right about that and sometimes it means that it’s not a linear path. Sometimes you’re escalating things with your partner and it feels okay, and something happens in your life and then your body kind of goes a little bit back. You’re no longer ready for sex or you’re not ready to connect in a specific way with your partner, so that’s completely okay. It’s important to have this compassionate view of yourself and okay, as long as you’re working on this and moving forward, that’s what’s important. Recovery is possible but it’s important to take it with your own pace because if you are going too fast then that might lead for you to experience all sorts of sexual challenges. I see people that many survivors develop all kind of sexual dysfunctions because they either didn’t address the main issue around trauma or their pacing wasn’t quite right, so I think that’s important to keep in mind.
Alyssa Scolari [23:58]:
Yes, I like that you pointed out that it’s not linear because I think that that can be very frustrating for some people and certainly was frustrating for me on my recovery journey where I would be okay sometimes and then during maybe a high stress time in my life it would be like, oh this is not okay, and it would feel defeating because it would feel like well great, I’m right back where I was. But that’s not at all the case. It just ebbs and flows. In the same way that I think, and you could speak more to this, that any sexual relationship would ebb and flow, right?
Nazanin Moali [24:38]:
Absolutely. That’s completely okay as long as you are focusing on communicating that with your partner and focusing on experiencing having good enough sexual experiences. We are living in a society that we’re all constantly bombarded with what’s sex supposed to look like. That it needs to be this glamorous production and everyone else is having sex every day and you’re left out. It’s important to think about who you are and what kind of sexual experiences you want. It’s a goal that can change in different phases of our life.
Alyssa Scolari [25:14]:
Yeah. It’s important to know that it doesn’t have to be … Just kind of like you said, like it’s glamorized. If you’re with somebody and the relationship really is right, it has to be this mind-blowing, earth-shattering sex that’s every day and it’s like, this is not realistic. Everything works differently depending on who you are. Different strokes for different folks, basically.
Nazanin Moali [25:39]:
Absolutely. Yes. Yes, and I think people at times think about if they’re not experiencing spontaneous desire and we’re not climaxing the same time, it means that we’re broken or we’re not compatible. I think it’s important to know that our sexuality can look different and that’s okay.
Alyssa Scolari [26:00]:
Yes. Self compassion and allowing yourself to be where you’re at without judgment. Now there’s even more I think shame filled than having sex with a partner, I would say for trauma survivors I’ve found that learning how to engage in masturbation again I have found to be extremely, extremely triggering for trauma survivors. As a sex therapist, when somebody is trying to establish pleasure again into their lives do you recommend masturbation first? Like getting to know your own body first before they step out into exploring other partners?
Nazanin Moali [26:53]:
Well you brought up such an important point, Alyssa, that I think at times even especially with my female clients, there’s some stigma around masturbation. Whether they experienced trauma or not, kind of thinking about that this is not okay, I don’t want to do it, for a number of different reasons. And paired with experiencing trauma, that message can get amplified.
I guess one thing I want for people to know that it’s a wonderful way of exploring and seeing how ready are you to have sexual pleasure in your life and you have the control over your body and you can stop and I think that can be a really, really good way that you can gauge your readiness. You can incorporate different touches and explore that. I think that can be very, very useful.
I think one thing that’s really important to also keep in mind, that sexual trauma, sexual assault is a form of violence. It’s not about sex at all. It’s about the violence.
Alyssa Scolari [27:52]:
Nazanin Moali [27:53]:
I think it’s important to keep that in mind and separating that from your sexuality and sexual pleasure. I think it’s important to keep that in mind, so actively turning your mind that direction. I think when it comes to masturbation I think it’s important even if you haven’t done it before experiencing trauma, thinking about it as a way for you to reconnect with your body. Even if you are not ready to masturbate to orgasm or you don’t want to, you can touch and stroke different parts of your body, kind of exploring and being curious about the sensation. Being curious what feels good and what doesn’t feel good.
At times our pleasure and our arousal can change after experiencing trauma. I have some clients, and I know this is such a controversial topic, but they incorporate their sexual abuse experiences as part of their erotic template. Especially if that was something that happened early in life, and they have all sorts of different sexual play that might not be mainstream but it’s healthy for them because it helps them to feel in charge, it helps them to feel safe in the consensual relationship and context.
Alyssa Scolari [29:06]:
Yep. In other words, people will incorporate part of their abuse during their sexual arousal because that’s what makes them feel A, aroused, B, like they have some kind of control.
Nazanin Moali [29:23]:
Alyssa Scolari [29:24]:
Yes. Yes. I was just going to ask, and you are saying that we want to normalize that?
Nazanin Moali [29:31]:
Yes. Yes. Again, I think it’s important to differentiate are you re-traumatizing yourself with this behavior? Is this trauma reenactment? Or this is truly part of your erotic template now because now our fantasies, our erotic blueprint and our sexual behavior can give us this feeling of safety and it’s important for us to feel safe during sex. If this particular play, power [inaudible 00:29:57] change, whatever you’re into, it gives you that safety, then there’s nothing wrong with incorporating that.
Alyssa Scolari [30:04]:
Yes, and by explaining it like that and saying that you are washing the shame away from people who may be aroused by types of sex or types of foreplay that aren’t mainstream and it’s okay in a consensual situation. It is absolutely okay. I love that you said that.
Nazanin Moali [30:32]:
Alyssa Scolari [30:33]:
So important. So important. I just have to go back to what you said, because you said this earlier and I love it. It’s about when we talk about trying to help people come out of the shame and the guilt that they feel and reclaiming their sexuality and their right to pleasure as a way to get revenge. That is so important. I think that so much of the healing comes from reclaiming your right to pleasure because then you turn to your perpetrator, figuratively, not literally, and you say, “You didn’t win,” because the assault, the abuse, the rape, it’s not about arousal. It’s about power. It’s about power and violence and when you reclaim your right to feel pleasure, whether it’s with yourself, whether it’s with another partner, multiple partners, that’s when you take back your power.
Nazanin Moali [31:35]:
I agree. You say it much better than me.
Alyssa Scolari [31:42]:
I just feel so empowered by what you’re saying and the work that you’re doing and it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful.
Nazanin Moali [31:50]:
Thank you. Same to you.
Alyssa Scolari [31:53]:
Thank you. I have to ask, how long have you been working in particular niche, this field, for?
Nazanin Moali [32:00]:
Well I did tons of different research in trauma, so in trauma it’s been around 12 years. Sex therapy the last five years because I felt that I love doing trauma work but specifically this is something that I really enjoy, helping survivors and also people with all sorts of sexual challenges. That’s been a newer niche for me.
Alyssa Scolari [32:24]:
Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure it’s so empowering just to help people claim their right to pleasure. This is something that I have over the last year or so have strongly been considering going back for my PhD in clinical sexology because I want to be able to better help survivors of sexual abuse reclaim their right to pleasure, and you’re doing it and it’s incredible.
And you’re a phenomenal writer. The article that you sent me, which to the listeners out there, I will link this article in the show notes. This is an article where you talk about you give different tips on how people can start to recover. It was the posttraumatic growth that you were talking about, correct?
Nazanin Moali [33:12]:
Yes. A part of it yes, I talk about that. Yes.
Alyssa Scolari [33:14]:
You’re a phenomenal writer and then you have a podcast as well. Can you talk a little bit about your podcast?
Nazanin Moali [33:22]:
Well thank you so much for allowing me to share this. I have a podcast, as I mentioned, called Sexology. I’ve been airing weekly shows the last four and a half years. I talk about science of sex and pleasure because one thing that I’m very passionate about is giving people accurate scientific research-based information because I feel like when we have the right information it will empower us to make right decisions because there’s just so many inaccurate information out there. At times they’re interviews, and at times the solos podcast episodes. It gets released on a weekly basis on Tuesdays. Whenever I’m talking about a topic that’s not necessarily within my specific niche I invite a researcher, scientist, another psychologist, therapist to come talk about it. It’s called Sexology and people can find it everywhere that they’re listening to the podcast, like Apple Podcast, Stitcher, all of those places.
Alyssa Scolari [34:21]:
I can’t wait to listen.
Nazanin Moali [34:23]:
Alyssa Scolari [34:24]:
That’s so exciting. You’re doing incredible work. Where do you see your career going, because you’re also five years into working in this niche. I’m sure you’ve got big dreams and big goals to continue on to do other things. What are some of your goals?
Nazanin Moali [34:42]:
Well thank you for saying all of these wonderful things. You’re such a kind, considerate host. Yes I’m very excited. What I want to do is I want to do online courses specifically helping couples to connect because I feel like there’s a limit on number of people I can see in my practice. I love serving individuals and couples but I feel with e-courses, online courses and programs I can reach a broader audience and I can serve a bigger audience so that’s what I have in mind for the next phase.
Alyssa Scolari [35:14]:
E-courses, that’s amazing. Especially because everything is online right now. Awesome. Awesome, so you’ve got big plans.
Nazanin Moali [35:22]:
Thank you. Thank you. The other thing is around sexuality, whether it’s podcasts or e-courses, I think it’s easier when people can do the work in the privacy of their home or listen in the privacy of their home because it’s just tough to A, talk to a stranger about sex or going into the office can be another hurdle.
Alyssa Scolari [35:42]:
Yeah. Agreed. It takes being able to do this type of work from home and from the comfort of their own homes gives all people, but especially trauma survivors or sexual abuse survivors, a relief from the shame. I almost wish that when I was talking about my sexual abuse, I wish that it was online. I wish we were on Zoom because I remember quite literally hiding under a blanket at my therapist’s office while I would talk to her because of the shame. I do think it’s going to give people, it’s going to make people so much more comfortable to be able to do it from the comfort of their own homes.
Nazanin Moali [36:30]:
Well thank you, and I’m glad that you had the opportunity to go in person because I think even going in person can be very, very powerful. I think there’s benefit to all aspects, whether going in person or courses. It’s a matter of just taking action. I think that’s what’s important.
Alyssa Scolari [36:47]:
Agreed. Agreed. There are pros and cons to both. I think the benefit of going in person is that you are able to say it in person and to see somebody not judging you, normalizing the things you were feeling. I’ll never forget the time when lots of my memories of trauma were repressed and I was in the uncovering phase and I was just having all of these memories come to the surface and I was sitting in my therapist’s office with my husband and I kept trying to say, “But it feels good.” What we were talking about earlier, like this couldn’t have been rape because in the body memories it feels good. I couldn’t say it and the next session I remember my therapist saying to me, “I could feel what you were feeling yesterday and I know what you’re trying to tell me is that you feel pleasure along with the pain and that’s okay.” To be able to have that experience face to face was incredibly healing.
Nazanin Moali [38:09]:
Right. Right. What a wonderful gift that you got, the chance to work with someone that was so attuned with doing this work.
Alyssa Scolari [38:18]:
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Well I thank you so, so much for coming on the show. Now if people want to find out more, I will absolutely link the article that you wrote in the show notes and do you have a website that people can go to as well?
Nazanin Moali [38:37]:
Yes. They can find my content, my podcast on SexologyPodcast.com. That would be a place that people can find me.
Alyssa Scolari [38:47]:
Perfect. I will link that in the show notes as well. Thank you for your time, for your knowledge, for your wisdom, your experience, and most of all for working in this type of field because it is so, so needed and you’re making huge changes. Thank you.
Nazanin Moali [39:05]:
My pleasure and thank you so much for having me on your podcast. This was an absolute pleasure.
Alyssa Scolari [39:12]:
Thanks for listening, everyone. For more information about today’s episode and to sign up for the Light After Trauma newsletter, head over to my website at AlyssaScolari.com.
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