A Few Secrets for Uncovering Sexual Trauma

Mar 10, 2017

“Art digs in Matter the furrows of the Mind.”

Stefan George
Symbolist Poet, Victorian Era

A Few Secrets for Uncovering Sexual Trauma

TISA Description of the Problem: This month’s tips were easy to choose, for Kathleen A. Hughes-Kuda, M.D., who provided September’s excellent tip, had already given me a few more excellent tips that I wanted to pass on. In the following material, Kathleen demonstrates how an interviewer can ask questions that gently lead to information that may lead to issues of abuse, while simultaneously uncovering pertinent sexual history.

Tip: When taking a sexual history the following questions can lead to important and sometimes unexpected answers:

1) “How old was your oldest sexual partner?”
2) “How old were you when you had this sexual encounter?”
3) “How many partners have you had whether with a man or a woman?”
4) “How old was your youngest sexual partner?”

TISA Follow-up: I like these questions because they uncover important normal background on sexual activity, yet also open the door for the patient to relay problematic sexual encounters. Nonverbal behaviors may indicate that something important is just below the surface. For instance, if the patient abruptly pauses or looks hesitant when asked, “How old was your oldest sexual partner?” it may be the first indication that the patient had been sexually abused in his or her childhood.

Tip provided by:

Tip provided by: Kathleen A. Hughes-Kuda, M.D.