Sexuality. . . A Common Trigger for Women’s Relapse: A Sexual Health Approach to Working with Women with Histories of Trauma

Sexual health for women in recovery is crucial to the prevention of relapse and a sustained quality of living. Of all substance-abusing women, 75% have a history of childhood sexual and/or physical abuse. Women with histories of abuse are far more likely to engage in unsafe sex practices, have multiple sex partners, exchange sex for money or drugs, and be addicted to alcohol and drugs.

This workshop examines the importance of addressing women’s sexuality while they are in treatment. The why’s and how’s behind risky sexual behavior, red flag indicators of trauma, what we know about women, sexuality, addiction, and recovery, as well as barriers that get in the way of healthy sexual choices will be presented.

Participants will have the opportunity to apply this knowledge to a case example – a woman who has been traumatized and subsequently experienced intimate partner violence and substance abuse. Identification of risk factors, the role of trauma in working with women with substance abuse as well as application to clinical practices will be discussed.

Authored and published by the presenter, Sanctuary for Change, an educational model aimed at enhancing women’s capacity to explore, define, and implement healthy sexually choices and thereby reduce high-risk relapse behaviors will be presented. Other models for trauma intervention are to be offered as additional clinical resources.

Attendees will engage in exercises from the curriculum, Sanctuary for Change, as an opportunity to explore personal values and attitudes on areas linked to sexuality. Personal strengths and challenges in working with survivors of trauma will be identified. An action plan designed to strengthen capacity to serve women impacted by abuse will be ascertained for implementation. A closing exercise will offer participants the chance to reflect positively on personal gains received and delivered to others through this training experience.


By the completion of this workshop, the participant will:

  • Recognize the definitions for sexual health and sexual violence;
  • Know at least one research fact about women and HIV;
  • Identify at least three red flag indicators for trauma history;
  • Explain what gets in the way of healthy sexual choices for trauma survivors;
  • Describe at least one important area for sexual health assessment;
  • List at least one personal strength and challenge in working with survivors.

Contact Germayne at Views From A Treehouse today Phone:(614) 448-7623 E-mail: