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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » Sex After Rape Can Anyone Relate?

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Author Topic: Sex After Rape Can Anyone Relate?
Midnight Dreamer
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This is such a hard thing to talk about as I have said in other posts I am in a commited relationship with my fiancee' and we love each other. But sometimes I let my dark past enter the bedroom. I was brutally beaten and raped by a man at a party when I was 14 , then when I was 15 got into an abusive realtionship that resulted in numerous beating and 2 rapes one that involved his brother sexually assaulting me as well.After all this I have finally found the one that will never hurt me ever. But sometimes still I battle with my sexual past when we are in the bedroom. Sometimes I flashback to the rapes and I know it is not real and I know this is the man I love but its so hard sometimes. He and I both are getting so frustrated with it. Its very defeating to our sex life. Maybe somone here can help me with this or just offer some support or words of wisdom to deal with this?
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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This is all normal. Know that, okay? Being triggered by sex when you're a survivor is common as dirt, especially if you haven't had any real help (not a good relationship -- help explictly for healing from rape and abuse) in healing and dealing.

Have you had any sort of therapy, counseling or any support group for dealing with your rape and abuse trauma? If not, that'd be my suggestion, first and foremost. Any of that can help you get on the road to healing and help you learn how to manage triggers better.

As well, one book we really love around here is Staci Haines' "The Survivor's Guide to Sex," an excellent handbook about sex expressly for those who had young rape and/or sexual abuse trauma.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Midnight Dreamer
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Thank you Heather I will try to find that book is it on this site? I am in counseling diagnosed with PTSD and trying my best to heal but after so many yrs of abuse its a hard hurdle to jump. Again thank you for the support this seems to be a really nice place havent seen any other place so open its reassuring that sex isnt taboo its natural.
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Heather
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That's great you've got a head start on counseling: have you brought the sexual issues up with your counselor? if not, I'd suggest that you do.

I'm sure your counselor already told you that healing from abuse is a long process, often with many stops and starts. I know that's hardly hopeful to hear, but IMO, it pays to be realistic. This stuff takes time to work through, and often a lot of small steps. Your counselor may be able to help you out with steps you and your partner can take to avoid and manage triggers, to have sex at a pace that is more workable for you.

Here's a link to that book at Amazon for you.

And you're welcome. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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adpizxliz
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Midnight Dreamer,
I am currently experiencing the same problem with my fiance. I was raped as a virgin 4 years ago. After than experience I became somewhat promiscuous never associating sex with emotions and definitely not with love. I am now engaged to an amazing man who truely loves me. I have worked out most of my emotional trauma and no longer have symptoms of PTSD. Everything seemed to be mostly healed until we started having a sexual relationship. There were no flashbacks or fears, just numbness. It was like every other guy I'd ever used to hide my pain. He could tell something was wrong and so we have stopped having sex and he's waiting for me to figure out what to do. So far I really don't know. I've ordered a ton of books off of amazon.com and hope they will help when they arrive. In the meantime I have been frantically searching the internet in hopes of some practical help and advice. That's how I stumbled on your post and thought I should reply and let you know you are not alone in this. Let me know if you find something that helps. Thanks and good luck.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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One other suggestion I often make to rape/sexual abuse survivors is to do your level best to adapt your sex life in terms of managing your triggers.

In other words, if you know there are certain things that trigger you, that cause you to flashback -- for example, a certain activity, such as vaginal intercourse or giving oral sex, certain phrases or ways your partner is speaking, certain environments you're having sex in that trigger you -- then avoid those, especially while you're just getting a handle on having healthy, consensual sex, so that the framework you're building when it comes to consensual, enjoyable sex is pretty solidy not triggering to you.

As time goes on, as your process your abuse more, get more help in healing, and also build trust with your partner, you may well be able to slowly add those things, but even if you can't or don't want to, whatever they are, that's 100% fine.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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alisue01
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You are not alone. My fiance and I are getting ready to have sex for the first time since my rape. I think the most important thing for us is keeping the lines of communication open. My fiance was there through most of my healing process and he has been a major help through it all. Whenever he triggers something or I get a flashback, he makes me talk about it, and sometimes I honestly hate it, but it helps. I hope this helped.
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brunskill
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I understand that this is an extremely difficult thing to talk about. I have a similar problem. I was molested and raped, as a virgin, six and a half years ago, and since then have avoided sexual situations and relationships altogether. I am now 18 though and I want to be able to be intimate with someone, but am finding it very difficult seeing as the only sexual experience I've had was the assault. It is an extremely frustrating situation and I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice. I know it is advised to seek counseling, but I do not feel comfortable with this, it has taken me about an hour just to write this message. I am much more comfortable with remaining anonymous, so if you could offer me any advice I would really appreciate it.
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hs123
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I guess I'm not really in the exact position to give advice on this, seeing as I've been going through some of this myself... But in all honesty, the best thing I've done for myself has been seeing a therapist. The first few times I didn't even say anything pertaining to anything relevant, but slowly I could talk more about it... And the number of flashbacks I have has drastically decreased.
I also didn't want to see anyone at first, and I had to be convinced to do it... It took awhile. Really, my boyfriend kind of threatened me in a way, that if I didn't go see someone, he was going to tell someone who would get me the help I needed... So I decided that it'd be better to just go on my own, and avoid all the drama.
I felt extremely betrayed by him at the time, but it was probably the best thing he's ever done for me.

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brunskill
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I am finding it very difficult to understand why people can't accept that I don't want to talk to a therapist. I mean, I know it can be very helpful for some people, and, hs123, it sounds like it has really helped you to achieve a lot of progress, which is really great, but whenever I talk about it with the people I have told, it only makes me feel a lot worse. I have a couple of great friends who I have told about it and they are willing to talk about it whenever I feel that I want or need to, but whenever I have (talked about it), although I feel quite relieved about getting things off my chest, I’m reminded of the whole situation, and become paranoid about what they think of me. I don’t want to be a burden to others and I really can't handle the thought of other people knowing about it, especially a therapist, who I would not know very well. I hate the feeling of knowing that other people know, and wondering if and what they think about it. Perhaps I will see a therapist one day, but I really don't want to right now. I would just really prefer it if someone could offer some advice on how to block out flashbacks, and how to be more in control of your body and thoughts. Often it’s not what I do feel during sexual situations, but what I don’t feel. I experience strong flashbacks and become very panicky from often the smallest of contact, but a lot of the time I feel, sort of, as if I am not there. Although it is sort of a relief not to feel scared or anything, the numbness is also very unsettling.
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Heather
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Brunskill: one very basic way of managing post-traumatic stress/flashbacks, is just centering yourself in your actual situation. In other words, when it starts to happen -- or when you find yourself dissociating: numbing out -- do what you can to ground yourself in where you really are. Open your eyes, look at your actual surroundings. Take long, deep breaths. In a sexual situation, stop the situation, sit up, walk to a window, get focused on the space you're in. Talk with your current partner. Obviously, too, if it just feel too son to be sexually active again, if you're flashing back any time you have sex, you may want to put that on hold.

Some folks find it helpful to have a phrase they say to themselves at times like these, others may want to keep an object close to hold that is something new, something that reminds you of being where you are, of not being in an assault. (I carried a small bag of crystals around my neck in college that I used for many reasons, this being one of them.) You might find it helpful to visualize a safe space. You might push into the pressure point in your forehead just above the bridge of your nose: it can help to quiet an overactive mind.

Something else I often personally suggest for people averse to talk therapy with assault is some bodywork. Massage therapy or acupuncture can be excellent tools for dealing with trauma, and you don't have to tell any of those practitioners about your assault (though it may be helpful to simply say you were assaulted: you don't have to say it was sexual assault, though). Not only can those things help with the effects of trauma you're carrying in your body and mind, they're also very safe ways to be touched which can help you heal and get more comfortable being touched again.

[ 02-10-2008, 12:34 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Stephanie_1
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Brunskill: Everyone has their own way of dealing with the past, and if talk therapy or counseling isn’t what you feel is right for you that’s okay. A lot of times what it comes down to is looking to what helped the person giving advice. You know yourself better than someone giving you advice on what to do and therefore have to look for answers that best suit you and pick the advice that is most suited to who you are.

In addition to what heather said, I know something that can also help when you don’t want to talk to people is kind-of “talking to yourself.” It probably sounds a bit odd but it works – because you know you so you can gauge your own reactions (as you said, it’s hard worrying about what other people think). Depending on what you like to do in your free time – if you write you can keep a journal with you and write down your thoughts as they come. This way you’re focusing on something else to allow you time. At the end of the day, fold the paper over so that you don’t have to read it unless you want to. You can do the same if you like to draw. If you’d rather keep them you can – depends on you. Some like to write poetry or build things that allow them to focus their mind and really think while they work.

When you’re in a situation and a flashback occurs, something else you can do is small gesture type things you can do with your hands. For instance there’s a drunk-driving test my uncle (a police officer) taught me. You start with your thumb and tap your index, middle, ring, pinkie fingers and back. It’s such a small motion other’s won’t notice it but enough to allow you to focus on. Someone people just roll their thumb around their index finger, or jingle change in their pocket – it reminds you of the present.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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brunskill
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Heather and Stephanie, thanks for all your help/advice. In a very strange way, although it has caused a lot of frustration, embarrassment and feelings of depression, I think my difficulties in this area have helped me, as it has been one of the major things that has made me realise that I haven't really dealt with the situation properly. I didn't tell anyone about the assault until about two years ago, before that I tried to pretend that it hadn't happened. Admitting it for the first time was the hardest thing I think I've ever done, it reopened a lot of wounds and, as I said, made me worry a lot about what my best friend (the first person i told) thought. Since then though I am starting to realise more and more - especially after seeing how I feel in sexual situations - that I never really dealt with what happened, and that I need to do that in order to sort things out. I don't know if that makes any sense to you at all, but I just wanted to express that feeling to reinforce it to myself and so that perhaps others in similar situations can see that some good can come out of the problems faced after being raped. I've been doing a lot of research on the effects of rape and have started a journal, after you suggested it, which I haven't really written in much, but I will keep adding to it and hopefully that will help. One of the best things actually that I find helps me is screaming into a pillow. I read it on a website and decided to give it a try a few weeks ago when I was feeling really angry, and it was really helpful. Anyway, sorry, I'm going on a bit now. Thanks again for the advice.
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Stephanie_1
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Through trial and error you will surely find your way of dealing through and being able to face what has happened to you. If screaming into a pillow helps you – that’s a great place to start. Also, what you said makes perfect sense. I hope the journal helps you to be able to get your thoughts out and good luck as you continue on this path.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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Lares
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I was molested by a stranger when I was 9. I'm 41 now.I was lucky to have an extremely supportive family, and always marveled that I felt no guilt. I knew I didn't bring any of that stuff on, and so there seemed to be no reason to feel guilt. What's bothering me though, is how much it has affected my life anyway. I was extremely promiscuous in my 20s and 30s. Very rarely would I date a decent guy. I decided it would be ok to play with a ton of "Mr. Wrongs". Well, they've been all wrong. I stayed with a class-A jerk for the past 5 years, having broken it off about 5 months ago. In the meantime, I took custody of his son (actually about a year and a half ago). Recently, there's been some question about whether his son was sexually assaulted. We spoke with a family therapist yesterday, and I am just reeling from everything. The whole thing just hit me like a brick house crashing down. I know what it's like to be someone's victim, a survivor, whatever. It sucks. I thought I had control by saying who or when. But I didn't have control, didn't allow myself to be with a decent guy. I'm no longer promiscuous, but I feel completely lost. Don't even know where to start with dating. What's it going to be like for this little boy? He's just precious to me. As we sat there talking with the therapist yesterday, she reiterated everything that I already know. Suddenly, it hit me. I never had a handle on it. How can I help him through it if I don't even have a handle on my own life? The therapist recommended a place to have him interviewed, and I'm sure we'll get past the initial stuff, whatever that is. But I am REALLY concerned about the long-term hidden effects.

One thing that I'd like to say here is that I am really furious with the limits of the legal system. Sexual abuse in any form leaves the victim scarred for life. Yet younger victims have a very small window of opportunity to come forward to prosecute the bastards who perpetrated them. And the sentences are not nearly enough compared to the life-sentence they handed us when they victimized us. The rate of repeat offenders is as alarming as the minimal sentences they receive when they are finally convicted.

Lares

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Lares
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Brunskill: I just reread your posts and those of the others who responded to you. The suggestion about seeing a massage therapist and/or acupuncturist is terrific since you are not so comfortable with talk-therapy. A chiropractor who specializes in massage therapy might also be a good option, especially because it's good for general health and you can keep your clothes on. My reaction to the assault was very different from yours. As unfortunate as it is, more women than not have been sexually assaulted at one point in their lives, so you're much less alone than you may realize. I really liked the idea of getting a new object to help you center and focus on the here and now. Get a little globe keychain, and remember that you are one of many many women around the world dealing with the aftermath of an assault. It can be confusing, and you might do things that don't make sense to you or anyone else. That's ok. Just remember to take good care of yourself, don't settle or convince yourself that hurting yourself further (like I did) is ok on the premise that you said it was ok. Do something nice for yourself as often as you can. There is not one way to recover. Take what you can get from this and mold your own way.

Lares

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