Dear Dr.Eve – 6 April 2021

“Dear Dr. Eve,
My husband is a policeman and has been with the SAPS for over 10 years
now.
I have always respected his work and tried to be very supportive of him.
I know how dedicated he is and I am proud of him. I support him by
bearing the brunt of housework and parenting as he needs to rest when
he is off duty. He drinks a fair amount and can get aggressive so I keep
the kids away from him at those times.
In the last few months, I have noticed that his sex drive has changed. I
think it began to change with covid-19 and has just got worse and worse.
He hardly ever initiates sex with me and even rejects me when I come
onto him.
I miss the sex and intimate time with him. Any suggestions?
Nola.”

DR.EVE REPLIES:

“Dear Nola,
Each time your husband prepares for his shift, his stress-related
cardiovascular reactivity is already elevated. That means that he has
kicked his brain into alert, telling it to get ready for action .. big actions of
violence, abuse, and aggression from others. All of which are
unpredictable and unknown. And these actions require him to be on high
alert, on the defensive, and on guard as at any moment he himself may
become a victim of violence.

This leaves him feeling overwhelmed, powerless and helpless. In turn
this generates anxiety and may have a significant impact on his self-
esteem and impede his feelings of omnipotence and invulnerability.

In other words by the time he gets home to you, he does not feel sexy.
He feels traumatized and seeks relief from his brain on fire.

At times, he seeks out sex as a way of putting out the fire in his brain.

Yet overexposure to trauma ensures that his brain is constantly on fire.
And thus in survival mode. And once stuck in survival mode, sex is not
on the table. His brain tells him that having sex is a risk as he cannot
afford to be less alert … which happens in his pleasure with you.

Here are some facts for you to chew on :
– The New York City Police Department estimated that police officer
might be exposed to at least 900 potentially traumatic incidents
over the course of their career.
– Officers show more resilience compared to the general population
– But the prolonged, chronic, and ongoing exposure to potentially
traumatic incidents, loss, and extreme stress may come with the
cost of police officers’ health and well-being
– Police officers who suppress painful thoughts and memories will
respond with intrusive posttraumatic reactions and display negative
behaviours, such as hyper-aggression, substance abuse, suicide,
and/or domestic violence… all as a means to self soothe
themselves.
– Frequent exposure to stressful events (e.g. trauma and violence)
affects police officers’ work attitude, coping strategies, physical
health, mental health, and behaviour.
– Police officers have high rates of suicide and symptoms of
depression
– Police officers respond to stress in a variety of ways: exercising
regularly, physical isolation from people, increasing sexual activity,
drinking alcohol, and spirituality
– Police have a higher probability of enduring symptoms of
compassion fatigue… every day they are called upon to offer
compassion .. and it is exhausting.

– There is a positive correlation between chronic insomnia and
physical issues, such as back/foot problems, high blood pressure,
migraines, and reproductive problems.
And finally, research finds that stress is more inclined to cause a
decrease in or negative effect for sexual activity.
And so Nola, send your man for therapy, therapy to manage his PTSD
symptoms. Once he learns how to manage trauma, he will once again
become your lover.”

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