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Author Topic: Feeling troubled with myself? sex after rape?
hs123
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I'm feeling very troubled... My boyfriend is coming back and we're going to try to have sex, which I really want.
We hashed out all the details. I want to be on top so I don't feel stuck underneath him- he actually thought this was a bad idea and that we should just be on our sides facing each other, but I wanted to be on top-
I don't want any oral.
I want the lights on so I can see everything that goes on
I don't want any penetration without my saying so and only exactly when I say so

But still, I'm very nervous. I'm very nervous that I might relieve a nightmare. I talked to my psychologist about it, and she said that "its always possible for something like this to trigger a bad memory, and you really never know because it's not always something you can control for"

but really, I'm not worried about controlling my boyfriend because he's not someone that needs to be controlled. I'm worried about myself. I'm worried that I won't speak up or say something if I need something to stop or to change because I want it to be good so badly. And my boyfriend knows this because I told him that I'm worried that if I feel like somethings off or I'm scared and things are going bad I might not say something because I want everything to work out and he just said that he would have to keep asking if things were okay---
but I just don't know.

We deserve this so much and I just want us to have it and I know that lying about it won't make it come around any sooner, but I almost feel like I couldnt bring myself to tell him that we didn't make it happen.
Does that even make sense?

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Heather
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So long as you're not telling your boyfriend what he HAS to do -- rather than what you're not okay with him doing -- you're not controlling him by setting the boundaries you need. I'd just also be sure that he understands that should you want intercourse only when you say so and "exactly" then, that he also understands that's only given HE wants it exactly then, too.

As well, you may find you need to leave wiggle room for what is comfortable for him as well as you. If it turns out being on top doesn't actually feel good for you both, then you will want to make an adjustment.

All of that, of course, is only given that this does feel right right now, but it's sounding to me like it still really doesn't, particularly if you don't feel you'll be able to be assertive or communicative when it's critical. It sounds to me like some more time to get comfortable might be the thing that best assures you both have a positive experience at this point. At the very least, why not see each other a few times first and see how you both feel when he comes back rather than doing a play-by-play long-distance. Why not take steps with kinds of sex together and see what feels comfortable emotionally and physically as you go -- setting boundaries as you go -- rather than trying to create a menu when you're not quite sure what the ingredients are going to be like?

I do want to tweak your head a bit and say that while we're all entitled to a sexuality, it's a bit tricky to get in the headspace where you're thinking anyone "deserves" or is entitled to sex together. It's just not really about people being entitled to anything or deserving anything. rather, it's about people wanting to seek and express mutual pleasure and sexual intimacy at a given time. One or both of us can want that, but still not have the timing or situation be right often enough, and that shouldn't feel all that stressful. And your therapist is right: we can only control triggers so much, and while you want to mention the things you know trigger you, it can often be even more helpful to just talk about how you want to deal with triggering if and when it happens.

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atm1
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What you're feeling is completely normal. I'm currently with my first partner that I've had since I was raped, and at first I had a lot of the same thoughts.

Things that helped:
-talking about it a lot before hand (sounds like you've done this). Things to talk about include how your partner will be able to tell when you're not okay, and how you can indicate that you are doing okay and want things to continue. I had a long conversation with my boyfriend about how to recognize when I shut down and disassociate, and he's very aware of it.
-going with the flow, so to speak. Having a set "plan" might not be such a good idea. You may have ideas about what will work and what won't, but like Heather said, you need to be able to adjust those when the time comes. My boyfriend and I talked about it a lot, but never had set a night to try. We just let it happen, and it felt right.
-make sure you have a safe space. Feeling comfortable in the space and having it be some place familiar and comforting can help a lot. This means no possible interruptions, a good pillow to cry on if you need it, a cell phone handy to call a friend in case you need them, anything that will make you feel safe and like you've got your bases covered.
-talking about it during sex. One thing I tend to do is actively tell my partner that I'm enjoying what's going on or clearly indicating it. That helps him worry less and makes us both more comfortable. Plus, he enjoys knowing how much I like it.
-remember getting triggered is not the end of the world. One time, something my boyfriend did really triggered me, and I really wasn't okay. He could tell, and I was also able to speak up and tell him that I needed things to stop. The whole experience hurt. A LOT. We both cried for a while, and held each other for a long time, talking about what happened, but then intentionally changing the topic once we had worked through it so we could get back to feeling more "normal." And things were okay. It wasn't fun, but good, open communication got us through it. So be aware that it can happen, and if it does, you can talk it out.


There's a common theme in all of these: good communication. Being able to talk freely and comfortably about anything and everything related to having sex is the most important thing.

My boyfriend kept asking the first time, "You're sure you REALLY want this?" and I really thought about it, and the answer was "YES" and I said it. Make sure that it is something you really want, not just something you feel you should want or should do. And keep checking in with yourself, because those feelings can change from moment to moment.

I hope this helps. If you want to post and ask me questions, I'm really open to answering any of them.

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hs123
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Well, firstly, I'm pretty sure my boyfriend was way more excited than he let on. He's been asking me for forever...Can you be on top? Can we leave the lights on? And finally I was like, Let's me be on top, Let's keep the lights on... and I think he didn't wanna be all like, YES YES YES!!! But also cuz he thought it might make me freak out more because I'm not one to like being on top or doing... anything with the lights on...

Secondly, I didn't mean to say we were entitled to sex- I meant, I feel that after everything that happened this year it'd be really nice if we could have an nice night together- and at this point it'd be nice if that special night COULD include sex.

I trust my boyfriend. I trust him more than anyone, I'm sure I've said that before. And I feel really good about myself around him.

I'm just not sure if maybe I want this too badly- I'm sure there's such a thing. Maybe he wants this just enough, enough to make everything just right, but I expect to much of myself- even if things were normal, but since things aren't I expect way too much of myself.

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atm1
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Have you talked to your boyfriend or others around you about how you think you expect too much of yourself?

In my support group, one of the things that we tend to tell each other a lot is that there's no need to be a superhero. As much as we all want to have this switch to flip that makes flashbacks or something go away, we don't. There's no magic "I can have sex now" button. It helps a lot to hear from other people who know the details of your situation that you're not "failing" at recovering, so I'd really encourage trying to talk to people until you feel like to do have some realistic expectations of yourself.
It's also completely normal to get frustrated that things aren't getting better as fast as you'd like them to and to really want them to go faster. Having a place to voice this frustration is important too, and I've been able to voice it with my partner, which has helped a lot. It can really suck knowing that your problems and your recovering are deeply impacting another person you really care about, but you always need to remember that they are *your* issues to work out, and you shouldn't feel guilty or bad that it sometimes takes longer than expected to work through issues. Remember that you shouldn't feel guilty about letting yourself or your partner down. Expecting that things will always be okay will just makes it worse when they're not... at least that's been the case in my experience.
Just be patient with yourself, and I know how hard that can be. I've found that my boyfriend is often more patient with my survivor issues than I am! So take some time to breathe and talk things out when your boyfriend gets back, and make sure you're okay with going slowly or having to take steps back. It's just important not to beat up on yourself no matter what happens. And hey, things might work out great, your plan might work perfectly for you. Just be okay with multiple possibilities.

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hs123
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Well, I feel like things are always moving at warp speed. I felt like when things first happened it was going to take like, at least three years for me to get to this point, and it's been 6 months, so whenever I hit some snag I feel like it's this giant hold up and I'm letting myself down. I mean, I talk to my boyfriend about it, and he really doesn' t expect anything, and he's always just like, "I don't really mind!" but sometimes I feel like he does.
He's been nothing but supportive. And I talk to other people about it, but it doesn't seem to help too much, I really don't feel comfortable talking to too many people about it. And I know that while I feel comfortable talking to my boyfriend about it, it really hurts him and sometimes he does ask me to stop but usually in the context of sex it's fine.

When we first started going out- and well, we werent that young, but I guess certain things naturally mature you, he definitely had that image of like a girfriend who could like whip out all of those porn star tricks, and I think I keep going back to THAT boyfriend I had- and I told him that- and he just kindof laughed at me and was like, just cuz i watch porn and want to try new things every once and awhile doesn't mean you need to have porn star tricks the first time, or any time. And I told him that I'm so worried about being "good" at it, and he was like, don't because you probably wont be and I probably won't be, and we'll probably be really awkward actually, BUT what it will be is NICE.

and that was nice to hear.

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Stephanie_1
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You know, it’s not uncommon to feel like everything’s happening extremely slowly. The more you can understand your feelings and needs the easier all of the puzzle pieces can fall together again. You’re not letting yourself down by getting caught up by something though – you’re simply taking the needed time before you can overcome it. And really that’s a good thing.

Too it’s probably very difficult for your boyfriend to hear about the things that have happened to you and know that he can’t take it back or fix it. He can listen, and he can be there for you now, but he couldn’t protect you then. And that’s a very difficult piece of knowledge to hold.

I also feel like most people go into a sexual relationship with some different ideas about what sex is and what should happen that can be tossed and jumbled a bit. The things you see in movies are seldom how real life happens, and just with how people talk about sex there’s that opportunity for a false expectation of greatness. Intercourse can be a lot of things and being a bit awkward is fine. Remember that it’s okay to bring a sense of humor to bed.

All this in line, I’m going to jump into the circle Heather’s sitting in above. Above all else, being ready is important. I think it’s a really good suggestion to try starting with other types of sex first and working up from there. This is a good way to gauge where you’re ready and comfortable and what may make you less comfortable. It also gives you a good chance to use communication through sex and learn to really key into what the other is saying. Know too that you need to feel like at any point you can get up and leave for a minute or two, call an end to the activity, and even mention to him just to hold still with what’s happening until you’re ready to move on if you are at all at that time. One of the most important keys to choosing to have any type of sex after rape is knowing that you can leave the activity at any time (as you should always be with ant partner all the time!!) if you become uncomfortable. And setting boundaries when you go is important, so before any type of sex happens you need to be able to communicate clearly with one another.

As you both adapt to any changes that need made along the way you’ll likely notice that certain things help you keep you grounded. For instance, reminding yourself of whom you’re with, things as you said like leaving the lights on but also things like certain words or having him touch a safe place, like your cheek or your arm can help remind you of where you are. If you start to feel like you’re headed into a trigger zone or if you have a flashback, have a safe place idea ready (mine was in the living room where I sat on the couch and held a pillow until I grounded myself, and he sat with me but waited until I was ready to hug me or talk with me. Others that I know look out the window or sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes.) For intercourse, being on top can also help not only as you’ve stated with not feeling pinned down but also because then you can be in more control of how depth and speed. It also allows you to push away from him for a moment if you need to easily and feel like to have somewhere that you can go. It sounds like you’re thinking in the right direction here, but be sure you’re not rushing yourself.

Have you both talked about protection and checked out the Readiness Checklist?

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

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hs123
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To be quite honest there's this one thing that really really bothers me about it all, and I'd be an idiot to try to get around it- even though I did already try to get around it- which I feel like an idiot for doing...
I mean, I know what really bothers me about the whole thing, and it's not sex, and it's not my boyfriend-
and yes, I'm worried that I'm not going to say anything when I need to but- and this seems so ridiculous but I'm terrified of seeing him put a condom on, and I don't want to use a condom and I know that's so stupid and ridiculous but it's true. And like, my first reaction to it all was just like, "Well, we aren't using a condom, we've both been tested millions of times and I'm on birth control that can't really screw up cuz its a shot and we can use any method but not condoms..." which is stupid because condoms are a great method, but they're such a trigger for me just thinking about them and like imagining them that I don't even want to buy them or see them near me.
And my boyfriend was just like, I don't care we're using them or we aren't having sex because that's the only method I trust. Which I understand because its such a guy friendly method, but he was like, why don't we go to the grocery and get some and you can just sit there with it and I'll put it on in the bathroom so you don't have to see it or something- or you can look away or something- but like, i'm really even scared of just being neare it. and I find myself having to remind myself that this time it's a good thing, and like, that last time when the person put a condom on and I was like "omg it's happening" it was a bad thing, but this time the "omg it's happening" is going to be a good thing, but i'm reallly just worried i'm going to spiral into some panic.

and it's not that i don't want it to happen, it's that i'm scared i'm going to psych my self out to some extreme level that i won't be able to do it. like, i can go over the checklist a million times and be totally fine up until the moment it happens and then just freak out- that's just not something i can control for.

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atm1
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I completely understand why you're worried about using a condom. If you think it'll make you too tense and scared to be able to enjoy sex (or have sex, period), than it's completely reasonable to stay away from them. No emotional reaction or trigger that you have is "stupid." They are what they are, and they are valid and okay. As ridiculous as it may seem at some points, wanting to stay away from ANY trigger makes complete and total sense.

Would he feel better with some other physical barrier method? Can you get a diaphragm and have him watch you put it in? Or a female condom? It may take longer and more work to obtain these methods, but they might be a good compromise. Just a thought.

And a side note: I'm a bit concerned that he would say he doesn't care about a major potential trigger for you...

And no, you can't control freaking out in the moment. It can happen. Have you talked to him about what to do in case you do freak out? Because I've found having a plan for what to do when I freak out makes me less likely to freak out (knowing that things will be okay no matter what makes me more comfortable which in turn makes it more likely that I'll be okay). Just remember that it's completely okay to freak out and not be okay. As irrational as some fears/reactions seem, they are your feelings and are valid and important.

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hs123
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I've freaked out in front of him before- he knows what to do so I'm not really worried about that. We've engaged in other types of sex before so he knows what to do when I freak out- it's just stuff that never needed a condom really. Actually- we've used them, but I didn't like the way they felt and we didn't really need them cuz he would put them on just for the heck of it, like even before we would engage in any type of sex. Like we never do oral or anything because neither of us like it- well we both like it performed on ourselves, but neither of us like doing the performing- so we just don't do it... things like that- so it's always just been manual, so we don't really use condoms- I guess we probably should be but the risks are so low- and I'm on birth control, and we've both been tested so many times that there's never been a need.

And it's not that he doesn't care about triggers- it's just that he cares about getting me pregnant and he doesn't trust my birth control because he can't see it and he feels like he has no control over it. And I understand that. He wants something that's his responsibility. He wants something that he can put on and take of and I understand that. And I do feel really irresponsible not using a condom- because that's always what I was taught and I want him to feel safe too.
I just feel like this is something I need to get past.

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hs123
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So I just talked to my boyfriend, and he was like, we have to go to the gynecologist and get a diaphragm for backup in case you freak out about condoms, okay? which is okay with me, because I don't want to just give up on the condoms thing, eventhough I'm really not a fan of diaphragms- but he said he would put it in me if I wanted cuz i'm really bad at that stuff. but I don't want to just jump to using diaphragms- honestly I'd rather go without anything= like just with my depo so it's more for him.

but he said next time I get my shot since he'll be in town he'll go with me so we won't have to use anything hopefully because he'll feel better about it. though hopefully by then i'll be used to condoms...

He says he thinks I'm treating this like something I need to just "get over with" quickly and it's making him upset. But I don't feel like I'm doing that. I feel like I'm just trying to be prepared. He says it's not even happening for a few weeks and I'm acting like I need to have it over with now- but that's not what I'm doing. I'm trying to like, mentally prepare myself so I don't freak out when it does happen and so that I have everything I need and so that he knows what I need and I know what he needs and what he expects so that there's no really big surprises. It's also just my first time having sex. But maybe I should try not to overthink it all.

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Dolphins_Cry
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I'm having the same problem at the moment. I haven't been intimate with my boyfriend for nearly 3 years and I'm feeling very pressured at the moment to make something happen. I'm afraid he's going to get fed up and leave me. Pressured by me, not him - he's been fantastic.

So last night I went out with a few people from work and got very drunk and I guess the "liquid courage" made me think it was a great idea to proposition him. So I sent him a text telling him to be at my place at a certain time etc etc. 2 follow up texts...

Fast forward to this morning and I am VERY glad he didn't have his phone on him at the time when I sent the texts. Now I just feel like a total idiot. Embarrassed and ashamed. Not to mention having a nasty hangover.

Understandably, he's pretty angry with himself for missing the first opportunity in 3 years. Now I feel even more pressure to "follow through" on last nights promise.

Sometimes I think I should just not be let out in public [Razz]

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Beautiful*But*Lonely
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Well in my opinion. I wouldnt be having sex with anyone that i dont atleast feel comfertable talking to about it... i know how judgmental and how much of jerks guys can be these days but you still need to remind yourself that you deserve to do what you want to do while having sex... you have just as much right as he does and just as much say so as he does about how things are going to go. so just tell him bluntly that you want to try your way first and if it doesnt work out then you guys can try his way and other ways too.

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*To keep yourself together when *everybody else expects you to *loose all self is *TRUE STRENGTH*
*

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Leabug
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(Beautiful but Lonely, do try to avoid making generalizations like saying guys are judgemental jerks... Scarleteen is an all-inclusive site and there are plenty of males here too who would object to such generalizations! People of ALL genders can be judgemental jerks, after all. [Smile] )

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Lea

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