Want: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault

WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault 

Rediscover Love and Desire after Sexual Assault

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Have the courage to heal: We know, increasingly, how common and devastating sexual violence is for women, but we don’t always talk about how survivors can recover from the trauma and return to desire, sexuality, trust, and pleasure. Want is the story of how Julie Peters did just that―and how you can, too.

Move past the fog of trauma: In the years after the assault, Julie was in what she calls the fog of trauma: the colorless, tasteless experience of barely getting through the day. No one―not counsellors, support groups, or other survivors―could give her any advice about how to find the desire that could bring her back to joy, intimacy, and connection, so she had to make it up on her own. In Want, a genuine, vulnerable, and accessible account, Julie tells the story of getting from the devastation of trauma to living a full life in eight sometimes challenging, often bumbling, and occasionally totally delightful steps.

Experience hope, healing and recovery: We have plenty of stories about the helplessness, frustration, and vengeful feelings that can come up after trauma. Culturally, we have started a conversation about these experiences, and we’re all confused about what this all means for our relationships with each other. We badly need stories of hope, healing, and recovery. Survivors of assault, if you’ve been thinking to yourself, “I thought it was just me,” Julie is here to show you that you are not alone. Your loved ones may not know how to support you, but they can learn more about your experiences and how to walk alongside you through this book, just as you can learn how to recover from the trauma you’ve experienced. Want offers a window into one person’s experience of recovery―plus the happy ending we all need to know is possible after trauma.

Want: Recovering Desire after Sexual Assault is Julie’s story of getting through the devastation of sexual assault to living a full life. In this book, you will learn how to implement the eight steps Julie took to recovery:

  1. Survive
  2. Feel
  3. Rage
  4. Forgive
  5. Pleasure
  6. Eat
  7. Sex
  8. Love

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Mental Illness Happy Hour 

Sex with Dr. Jess 

Fear of Science Podcast: Consent

Fear of Science Podcast: Empathy

Shamelessly Feminine Podcast

You, Me, Empathy Podcast

Essential Conversations with Rabbi Rami 

Out of the Box with Rosie Tran 

Excerpts and Articles

Masturbation Meditation: Excerpt for Ovee Health 

Feel: Healing the Spiritual Wound of Sexual Trauma with Spirituality and Health

A Hidden History of Policing Female Desire (and Power): The Establishment

How Yoga Kept Me From Recovering From Sexual Assault: Elephant Journal 

Interview with BJ Buckley 

She Does the City 


14 Best Feminist Books to Bring to College 


“Julie Peters has given us a work on sexual trauma that is at once sweeping yet intimate. On every page there is the vibrant energy of intellectual curiosity as well as the searing truth of lived experience. In her book she challenges us to not just be readers, but also witnesses to her journey. It’s at times painful, often humorous, always illuminating. Anyone who has been touched by trauma knows that there’s a resonance that lives on long after in the body and mind. But in her near-experience book, Peters also shows us the resilience and radiance.”
–Ian Kerner, PhD, sex therapist and NY Times best-selling author of She Comes First

“Wow. Beautiful. Kudos. This book is such a compassionate, nuanced look at an incredibly complex, deeply-entrenched set of flawed societal norms and patriarchal beliefs about power, sex, punishment, and entitlement. And most importantly, some great advice on healing; helping survivors and society in general.”
–Paul Gilmartin, host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast

“It is a rare and wondrous thing to read a book that seems to see into the most secret and private corners of your life, your body―to have, in fact, been there for a long time, waiting to provide you with what you had not known you’d desperately needed. Julie Peters has written such a book. With unwavering honesty, penetrating insight, warmth, humor, and aplomb, she lays out strategies for a tangible, nourishing, and vitally ferocious self-love. The book is written from the perspective of a survivor of sexual assault (and what a tremendous and generous gift it is for those who have shared the experience) but the practical and practicable wisdoms here are for everyone. The reader feels variously transported to a therapist’s office, a research facility that studies modes of gentleness, a night spent talking over wine with a dear and learned friend, and into the center of a circle in which a witch mixes her healing potions and sings her wild incantations. I hope that (particularly straight, cis-gendered) men will join me in reading this book―both for the insight into the lives of the women (and other-gendered folks) who surround us, with whom we are intimate or not, with whom we share space, and for the revelations it offers into our own lives, our own fraught relationships with pleasure, food, addiction, sex, our bodies. As Tony Kushner writes in Angels in America, ‘The Great Work Begins.’ Julie Peters provides us a map.”
–Jeremy Radin, poet, author of Slow Dance with Sasquatch and Dear Sal

“Julie Peters’ new book Want: Recovering Desire after Sexual Assault in Eight (Not So) Simple Steps provides women who have experienced sexual assault with a roadmap towards healing their shame and rekindling their desire. What’s unique about this book is that the sexual assault that the author shares about so vulnerably happened as an adult with a ‘best friend’ whose advances she had been rejecting for months. Peters takes readers on her own personal journey from trauma, to reconnecting with her body, emotions and eventually her own desire and sexuality. While the book is well thought out and researched, it is Peter’s no-nonsense, tell it like it is, personal narrative that is both refreshing and so relatable to many women’s experiences. Add this book to your bookshelf!”
–Xanet Pailet, Sex & Intimacy Educator and Coach, author of the bestselling book, Living an Orgasmic Life: Heal Yourself and Awaken Your Pleasure

“This book paves the way forward to newer, better sex and relationships for sexual assault survivors. Julie Peters weaves personal experience and research to bring us readers deep into the psychology and physiology of sexual desire post-assault. This book empowers survivors to go beyond the limiting ‘healing’ narrative our culture imposes, and to reclaim sex as a source of pleasure and joy moving forward. It’s full of practical strategies for a better sex life―that take into account survivors’ histories and challenges.”
–Katie Simon, writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Medium, The Washington Post, and more

“This is a potent, provocative, multi-sided look at deep and painful issues between the genders. Julie’s depth of knowledge in this work is illustrated by her ability to know when to engage difficult edges, to hold people to account, as well as when to bring levity, breathe, and remind of us of our shared humanity. Her profound courage as a rape survivor to share so deeply is matched by the wisdom of her nuanced exploration of violation pattern in broader society. She is able to do so with an utterly non-shaming and compassionate voice, that also consistently includes and thoughtfully considers the victimization of men, transgendered and non-gender binary people. Her voice is just the kind of eldership that is so needed in the complexity of gender identity, power and violence issues.”
–David Hatfield, M.A., M.Ed., Process Facilitator and Consultant, Canadian Coordinator for International Men’s Day, Founder of Manology: Exploring 21st Century Masculinity.

“Julie skillfully weaves together science, history, feminist and trauma theory with her own sexual assault and healing. She offers practical, trauma informed tools for the reader to support their own safe embodiment and writes in an honest, funny and hopeful way about the struggle to make sense of the world and our lives and how to thrive in the aftermath of trauma. Her heartfelt writing reaches out to the reader, a friend who bears witness to your most vulnerable moments while a mirroring them back in her own. I think that this book is a must for anyone wanting to understand their own journey after trauma and needing the support of a wise, compassionate and well-informed presence along the way.”
–Nicole Marcia, MA, Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist

“Reading WANT, I found myself exhaling deeply every few pages. Peters sets out to do what many survivors wonder, at one point or another, if we’re capable of doing: she seeks to heal from her assault by understanding it from every direction. From within the body. From fields upon fields of research. From turning towards the wound as opposed to away from it, all the while remaining transparent that she’s learning right alongside us. In the same candid and warm tone you’d expect from sitting down to drinks with your best friend, Peters shares frankly and sincerely as she moves through each new learning, be it clinical, physiological, or societal, holding it up to the light to see where it might fit best in the very real, intricate mess of moving beyond the harm that’s done to us.”
–Kelsey Savage, writer and sex educator

“Despite sexual violation being an enragingly common story, Julie manages to pull out her own unique narrative and in true yogic tradition seeks unity with self to self, self to others, and others to self. Simply astounding.”
–Monique Desroches, Trauma Informed Somatic Therapist

“Julie Peters brings pleasure to life after sexual assault through vulnerable stories, supportive tools, and social critiques. This blend of thoughtful work will support folx in their healing and their growth. I am so into a world where we encourage more understanding of our complex humanness, and Julie allows us to breathe with her and try together. Powerful, vivid and profound; Julie welcomes you to yourself.”
–Tanille Geib, sexual health educator

“Julie has eloquently navigated the fine balance of trauma and triumph. She articulates perfectly an application for healing infused with a gentle, knowledgeable language with a lightness that is hard to achieve in this subject. Her blend of earnest personal sharing and well-researched material drew me in and left me enthusiastically turning page after page nodding my head in solidarity. This book gave me permission to go deeper into my own experiences by being delighted and eager to use her techniques and practices of self acceptance and care. Practical, playful and poignant, Julie’s perspective reads so clearly and genuinely I truly feel this book is a must for any survivor or ally wanting to deepen their journey of healing.”
–Lola Frost, international burlesque artist, exotic dancer and instructor. Co-owner of the Vancouver Burlesque Company.

“An educational approach to regaining your power, Want talks honestly about the realities of sexual assault and how to take control over your pleasure and your life in its wake. Want is a restorative text, offering readers a hand, a shoulder, and a toolkit. Peters is a wise, warm, and compassionate companion through the most challenging of experiences. Want is a place of sharing, a place of grace, and a clearing in the woods; it is as personally tailored to its readers as any book can be. Want will put you first and is a tremendous resource for coping with assault.”
–Erin Kirsh, award-winning poet published in Geist, Qwerty, The Malahat Review

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About the Author

Writer, yoga teacher, studio owner. @juliejcp