May 15, 2000 -- Elizabeth Haney was sexually assaulted at school by a group of male classmates when she was 12.Now 24, the San Francisco woman finds that repercussions of the attack have made her incapable of connecting love with sex.In physical and verbal interactions, experts suggest following the lead of the partner who was abused.But Herman cautions partners against thinking that their support alone can vanquish their mates' demons."I got upset, and he tried to talk to me about it, but I wouldn't talk about it," she says."I couldn't say what I wanted to, and he got frustrated." The impact of childhood sexual abuse on adult intimacy varies from person to person, but experts say Haney's relationship troubles are not uncommon.
She recalls a patient who, two years into her marriage, began having flashbacks of sexual assaults at the hands of her stepfather.As for Haney, she plans to continue with therapy until she is able to combine physical and emotional intimacy. "I am pretty determined when I set my mind to something," she says. I don't want what happened to beat me." Stephen Gregory has been a journalist for 10 years and has worked for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and U. When those abused as children try to form adult romantic relationships, they can be affected by anxiety, depression, and poor self-esteem.Some have no sexual desire; others may have a high sex drive."You didn't cause this, and you can't fix it all by yourself," she says.But partners can go along to therapy sessions, if invited, as a show of support.She has had just two serious romantic relationships in her life.She admits she is more comfortable with casual flings, partly because the closer she gets to a man emotionally, the less she wants to have sex with him.Recently, Haney flew into a jealous rage when her boyfriend took a phone call from a woman friend in her presence.Although outwardly viewing the relationship as a fling, her reaction to the phone call suggested otherwise.