T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 45664
posted 01-09-2011 01:13 PM
Hey there Scarleteens,
So this girl I started dating revealed to me pretty early on that when she was 15, she dated some guy for a couple years before she knew how to set boundaries. So she ended up having two years of unwanted sex (she doesn't call it rape, so I won't either). She has a lot of bad memories and now she says she's afraid of penises, she's got a lot of issues with sex in general and has a few specific triggers as well. She thinks of sex as something that she does for the guy, not something to enjoy for herself. After that guy, she didn't really date until this past year - and it sounded like she mostly just had sexual flings with a few guys in an attempt to get over her issues, but no real relationships. She also masturbates on her own (and owns a vibrator) but has been unable to orgasm with or without a partner. One problem is that once she gets really aroused, she reports becoming too sensitive to continue. Or she’ll get really ticklish if it’s with a partner. So anyway, we’ve been taking it really slow, I make sure we never do anything that she isn’t really confident she wants to do, we’ve been focusing on her pleasure, I sometimes stop and check in with her to make sure she’s okay, I try to pay really attention to her noises and facial expressions, I am very careful never to put any pressure on her, etc. and that has really been helping. I wonder if anyone could recommend an article/essay/book for her to read to help her deal with her past? Or has any advice for her yourselves? Or advice for me to help/support her? Also, any clue what’s going on with the hypersensitivity/ticklishness when she gets really aroused? Or how we can proceed with that? Thanks!!
Member # 3
posted 01-09-2011 01:26 PM
It's really fantastic that, as the partner of an abuse survivor, you are being so thoughtful and mindful.
The best way for us to be able to help her directly is for her to come and talk to us herself, rather than trying to do so through you. Without really hearing from her where she's at, how she's feeling, and what she feels she needs help with, we're not going to be able to help very much. Certainly, I'm always going to suggest good counseling for someone who has been in an abusive relationship or who has been abused. Do you think she may be open to that? If so, we can help connect her to resources. You're in a good city for good help in that area. I actually personally know a wonderful counselor working in Austin I could suggest. Beyond facial expression, have you two established solid verbal consent? In terms of books, are you asking about books that talk about sexually abusive relationships? The ticklishness is common with high arousal. Sometimes it's just a matter of learning the right ways to touch someone so that it doesn't get ticklish. Are you talking specifically about her feeling ticklish with her genitals, or her whole body?
Member # 45664
posted 01-09-2011 11:34 PM
Well, she's actually the third woman in a row I've dated who's been a sexual abuse survivor, so I'm getting kind of practiced at it. Which is actually kind of good for me because it REALLY forces me to be a better partner or else things just don't work.
Anyway, I talked to her and I think she's pretty content with the way things are going right now. She mentioned that she saw a counselor at Univ. of Texas for a while and then later another one in Austin she didn't like as much. She also read a book...something like Sexual Healing Journey ....for...Abuse...Survivors? Sorry, my short term memory is awful. She really liked it. And I think it's given her some of the vocabulary she needs to talk about things. But she didn't really show any interest in seeing a counselor again or posting here. After talking to her, I actually think I'm being a bit of a worrywort - while she does have some issues she's overcoming, she seems really happy with the way things are going and I think she just needs time and support. And on that note, yes, sorry if that was unclear, I make sure to get very explicit verbal consent. She has this thing where sometimes, she'll disassociate and lose interest in the middle of sex, I've gotten in the habit of not only asking BEFORE starting a sexual act, but during to make sure she's still okay with what's happening. But obviously, I can't ask "are you okay?" and "do you want to keep going?" and "what would you like to do" blah blah blah every four seconds, so in between checking in with her verbally, I carefully monitor her nonverbal communication. She's gotten a lot better at it, but when we first started out, she was not very good at communicating when she wanted to stop. So it's important for me to be able to read her and make sure she's having a good time. Luckily, I think she feels a lot more comfortable with me now and therefore, she's able to identify and express what she needs a lot better. As for what I was looking for, now that I've talked to her and thought about it some more - I'm not sure I really had anything in mind specifically. I just wanted....something to help her? With...I don't know. She actually seems pretty happy with the way things are going, I guess I just worry about her. I am still curious though about the ticklishness though. I tried searching and this article was a bit relevant: http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/37/t/000439.html Basically, her body in general is REALLY ticklish (neck, stomach, sides, feet, ears). That starts to die down once she gets aroused. But then sometimes after I go down on her for a while, I'll look up and she's started giggling and has to guide me away because she got ticklish. Although, now that I think about it, it DOES seem to be lesser when she's more aroused (when we make out more beforehand). I wish I knew what you meant when you said "right ways to touch someone so that it doesn't get ticklish" - but, now I feel a bit silly, because I think I was just looking for shortcuts. I think all of the things I mentioned will just take time to work through and figure out. If any advice pops into your head, I'd love to hear it, otherwise, thanks for your first response. It's pretty amazing that the founder of the site still has time/motivation to respond to a forum entry within 15 minutes. I'm a huge fanboy of Scarleteen, and I tell all of my friends about it Keep up the great work, I know the articles here have really helped ME out a lot!
Member # 3
posted 01-10-2011 09:54 AM
It sounds like you're being pretty darn awesome around this, striking a good balance of being very mindful, but also not patronizing. That's seriously great.
One extra book that I think might be a goodie is the anthology "Yes Means Yes." I have a piece in that one myself, and lots of us who wrote for it are survivors of rape or other sexual abuses. I know it's been full of epiphanies for a lot of survivors. With her ticklishness, you know it just may be that she's a very ticklish person. We all very like that. What I meant when I talked about the right way to touch someone is that every sexual partner is a new learning process. When people get so caught up here on first times being the only first times, I always scratch my head some because what I know is that we have a gazillion first sexual times in life, especially if we have more than one partner. So, there's a learning curve, and it'll likely just take you two, uniquely, some time to figure out what works and what doesn't, both with her ticklishness, but also with everything else about both of your bodies and the way they work together. Make more sense now? Thanks for the thank you! Doing the direct service and talking directly with all of you remains my favorite work on the site, so it's hard for me to imagine ever NOT doing this part.
Member # 51970
posted 01-10-2011 03:30 PM
This might not be helpful at all, but what you said about the ticklishness resonated with me. I sometimes have the same problem -- becoming so ticklish to any kind of touch anywhere on my body that I am completely unable to continue any kind of sexual activity. Reflecting on those instances, they've all been times when I wasn't fully present and engaged in the sex, times when I WANTED to want to have sex with my partner, but my heart wasn't in it. I've always had a sneaking suspicion it was somehow related to being a rape survivor.
Obviously this could be completely unrelated to your partner's tickling problem, but for me, I think that it's some sort of weird coping mechanism to tell me the touching is unwanted but not threatening. This "tickle phenomenon" is new since I've been with my partner of one year -- prior to this relationship (in which we both really value enthusiastic, verbal consent), my reaction has been to shut down & check out completely.
Member # 3
posted 01-10-2011 03:37 PM
cmb (and fantaseedude): I think it's entirely possible that kind of response could be about sex after sexual trauma and/or abuse.
Of course, it also may have nothing to do with that, too, since it can happen for people who are not survivors, but I also think it's possible it's about post-assault sex, especially if the kind of feelings and sense you were/are getting, cmb, is at play.
Member # 3
posted 01-10-2011 03:40 PM
As a side note, some links about tickling may actually provide some more info:
• http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/other-emotions/question511.htm • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tickling • http://www.tomveatch.com/else/humor/paper/node33.html
Member # 45664
posted 01-11-2011 06:44 AM
Thanks for sharing cmb. I'll keep that in mind for the future.
And Heather, the touching thing makes a bit more sense. I'm looking forward to figuring all that out with her. And Yes Means Yes, sounds like a good idea, I really liked that one. And since it's a bunch of short essays, it'd be easy to read them together and talk about them. (By the way, I loved immodest proposal, besides the book, I've also read it on this site like three extra times.)