Donate Now
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Sex after abuse

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Sex after abuse
cool87
Activist
Member # 29292

Icon 1 posted      Profile for cool87         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For those who have been sexually abused or raped, what are some of the difficulties that you’ve encountered when it comes to sex after your abuse and/or rape ?

How have you and your partner dealt with those ? What ways have you and your partner taken in order to make things better ?

[ 02-23-2009, 05:33 PM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

--------------------
Sustain Scarleteen by donating
http://www.scarleteen.com/donate.html

Posts: 3598 | From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You know, to a large degree, I personally really didn't deal with any until nearly a decade after my primary assaults.

There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I'd boil them down mostly to: a) having had therapy for a few years only a few years after my abuses, b) never having any kind of sex when it wasn't what I wanted for myself, full-stop, c) having more than one partner -- that's not a prescription, mind you, I just think that for me, my personality type, not having any one person be too close to me for a while in that respect was something that worked better for me. If and when something did trigger me, I didn't work on it with a sexual partner, I worked with it for myself and by myself outside any relationships. (Mind, this was a different time, and disclosing rape was not something as accepted and understood as it is now. If this were today, things may have gone differently.)

I talked a good deal about some of the way sex worked for me post-abuse here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/10/29/on-liberty

Years later -- in college -- when I started having flashbacks during sex, that was a bit of a different story. I didn't have any expectation of having flashbacks (and they were very vivid and multi-sensory) at that point because I hadn't had them before, and no one ever let me know that not having them earlier didn't mean they couldn't happen later on. I honestly handled it pretty poorly. I was with someone I had been with (and our relationship was highly sexual) for a couple years, and I pretty much freaked out. In fact, I basically ran away, full-stop from our relationship to be with someone else, just because I couldn't handle someone being so close to me. I think I also felt pretty freaked about what the hell to do in a relationship that was so sexual, and when I'd previously enjoyed sex so much, and then all this stuff kind of killed that, or felt like it could. If I was in a better headspace -- and someone had suggested it -- I would have done the smart thing and called up my old therapist or sought out a new one, but alas.

Ultimately, I didn't really deal with all of that for years very directly, save later going about things in a way that's very me, which is that I let myself go ahead and totally bottom out and put myself in positions and relationships which triggered the hell out of me on purpose. In a word, I jumped into the fire willingly, got burned a lot, and eventually came through ready to do some more healing in safer ways. Again, your mileage may vary (I was also considerably older than a lot of our userbase at that time), and it's not what I'd generally suggest for anyone else: it was a pretty dangerous way to go about things, even though I think that for me, it was actually the right way in many respects.

But I really can't emphasize enough that both for myself, and in general, I think one really HUGE factor with this stuff is NOT having sex before you are ready to, before you want to, and not doing so for the wrong reasons: to keep someone around, to have company because you're lonely, to try and prove a certain normalcy, the works. I think it's also really key for each survivor to respect their own pace with sharing their sexuality (and reclaiming it), and once more with feeling, that some kind of therapy is vitally important.

I'd also add that at this stage in my life, I know what my triggers are, and I can easily be very clear about them with partners. I make clear the couple of sexual things I simply cannot do, and that they are non-negotiable. I have management tools for my triggers that work for me. I choose partners I know or strongly sense have the maturity and depth to deal with anything like this that comes up. And if it doesn't feel good -- physically, emotionally -- I don't do it, period.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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

Posts: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
September
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 25425

Icon 1 posted      Profile for September     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm working on an article for ST that'll also touch on this, so I won't tell the whole story. What I'll say here is that the single most important thing, for me, was to learn how to figure out my own needs for myself, to respect them, and to voice them to my partner.

Between my abuse at 14 and my rape six years later, I tried very hard NOT to listen to my body, and to go ahead and do things I was neither ready for nor actually really interested in, for the sake of proving that I was 'normal' and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

After my rape, I basically broke down and it became impossible for me to deny that I WAS affected by the things that'd happened to me and that I could NOT just wish that away.

Thankfully, by that point, I was with an amazing partner that I could be 1000% open and honest with. We gave ourselves over a year after my rape before we started to become sexually active, so by then I was feeling very comfortable with him and didn't have any qualms about keeping him posted on what I was feeling. That doesn't mean that it wasn't very frustrating and confusing at times, and that it didn't take a lot of work, but I never felt forced or like I had no choice. I sometimes lost patience and rushed myself, but that never led anywhere good and in the end I just took my time.

Five years after the rape, I don't think I'm 'cured'. But I know where my triggers are, how to avoid them, and how to deal with them when I do come across them.

[ 02-24-2009, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: September ]

--------------------
Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

Posts: 9166 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Alicia Hale
Neophyte
Member # 42255

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Alicia Hale     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For me my rape was something I threw in a closet for three years. It took my wife having one of her flashbacks and admitting to me what was going on for me to even admit anything had happened to me. Us both having been raped, for me multiple times and her violently, turned out to help us both see through the pain and hurt together.

The biggest thing for me was to realize that it did happen, I couldn't change the past, and that it wasn't all my fault. I beat myself up for a year and my self image completely went away, causing sex for me to be just that, a word, and what was expected from me. I thought that since it had been taken from me I might as well give it away. I would let anyone touch me, male or female, and put no emotion into it. Sex became to me about pleasing the other person involved where I was merely the tool they had made me to be. It took from me the ability to have children, so to me there was no point in sex having any meaning anyways.

Then Nichole finally stepped in, and actually told me to quit feeling sorry for myself, the very words I had told her many times before and about many other aspects of my own life. I realized that by stopping my life I was giving those men control, the last thing I ever wanted them to have.

I finally got back to the point where I could let Nichole touch me and trust her not to hurt me, and better yet enjoy making love to her, but that doesn't mean I am saying that everything is ok and it never will be. Nichole still has flashbacks to what she went through, sometimes in her sleep, sometimes in the middle of making love, sometimes even just breathing sets her off, but it is about trust. We both went through a lot but are now helping each other through it. We are learning together where to touch and how to hold and it brings us even closer than before.

Posts: 2 | From: DFW Area, Texas | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Perfectly_clueless
Neophyte
Member # 42651

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Perfectly_clueless     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Im a teenage girl , and iv suffered from sexual abuse , and for 7 years no-one knew. I currently have a boyfriend and although he tells me he loves me I find it hard to connect to him emotionally and am unable to say it back. And for me talking to him is the hardest thing. He doesn't know anything about my "past" (which seems to be so much in my present)as im afraid he'll see me differently or see me as damaged goods . And as for the physical side of things ,we've taken things further which im fine with. But he theres certain things that he wants to do that I just cant handle due to having being touched that way before. I cant explain to him and so far have found it easier to do the cowardly thing and block the memories out.
Posts: 29 | From: Ireland | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
Member # 35643

Icon 1 posted      Profile for eryn_smiles         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi Mable,
I thought you might be able to relate to some of these links:
http://www.scarleteen.com/resource/crisis/pandoras_aquarium
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/crisis/dealing_with_rape
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/i_was_raped_a_few_years_ago_how_do_i_tell_others_and_build_trust_again
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/im_a_sexual_abuse_survivor_how_do_i_get_okay_being_intimate_again

I don't think that you sound cowardly at all, but you know, when you continue to allow sexual things that you don't want while blocking out your feelings, it can sometimes make healing harder in the long run. What do you think about taking things slower until you feel more comfortable and are able to talk with him? Have you been able to talk with other people about this?

--------------------
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

Posts: 1326 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Perfectly_clueless
Neophyte
Member # 42651

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Perfectly_clueless     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To
eryn_smiles
Thanks for your reply and the links.
See thats the way I think I am , because for me even though its been seven years I cant handle dealing with it right now. I guess iv subconsciencely tried to , iv never talked about it when iv been sober , just once when I was paraletically drunk. Hence how my parents found out last year. Theyve been good , theyve offered me help but at this stage I dont want it.
And as for telling my boyfriend , I dont evene know where to begin , or if hes even the right person to tell.

Posts: 29 | From: Ireland | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
Member # 35643

Icon 1 posted      Profile for eryn_smiles         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey Mable,
Whats stopping you from taking the help that your parents offered? I'm glad that you have their support. But it can be even better to talk through things with someone objective like a counsellor.

Of course, you don't need to tell boyfriend about all the abuse if you're not ready. But I do think it will be helpful if you told him you want to take sexual things slower, perhaps because you've had some bad experiences in the past. It can be really harmful to continue doing something that's hurting, while trying to block it out. What do you think?

--------------------
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

Posts: 1326 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Perfectly_clueless
Neophyte
Member # 42651

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Perfectly_clueless     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I did try to take their help. Just over two / three weeks ago I had my first and only counselling session. And Ifound myself crying to a complete stranger. It was only brief because I clammed up. I hated it , I felt vunerable and didn't know where to begin. And I promised myself I'd never let myself fell like that again.

I should and I will try , just communicatings never been my strong point , and its difficult because he is a fairly sexual person which is completely opposite to me. But I know its what I need to do , just somethings getting there is the difficult part.

Posts: 29 | From: Ireland | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One thing I might suggest is that you consider that being with someone strongly sexual right now, in a relationship which is expected to be sexual, might not be what you need.

I know that it can be so hard to even consider something like that, especially if you love who you're with and they care for you very well. Sometimes childhood sexual abuse survivors -- even more, IME, than those raped or sexually abused at older ages -- also can strongly feel that they aren't entitled to love without giving out sex, and/or that there is something wrong with THEM they need to compensate for if they don't want to/aren't ready to be sexual. I don't know if you feel any of that, but if so, it might make evaluating your relationship and if it's right for you right now harder.

But I do think, especially given what you have said about his being so sexual, that you letting him in on your history is even more vital, even though I know disclosing abuse is scary.

You say you think he's see you as "damaged goods." That'd be a pretty lousy way of viewing someone we care about. Do you really think he'd feel that way, or is that about how YOU see yourself?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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

Posts: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Perfectly_clueless
Neophyte
Member # 42651

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Perfectly_clueless     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
See I don't know. Theres days im fine ,I put it out of my head and I deal with normal teenage problems , exams , going to uni. And then theres days it's all I can think about. And I know telling my partner would be the best thing to do , but how do you tell someone that everytime they touch you , its not them you see , but someone who's caused you so much pain. Its like I clam up , I pyshically can't speak the words.
Posts: 29 | From: Ireland | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
atm1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 37835

Icon 1 posted      Profile for atm1     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Have you considered writing him a letter? That might be an easier way to say what you really want.

My partner has known I'm a rape survivor from the beginning of our relationship, and, as strange as it sounds, I do believe that our relationship is better BECAUSE I am a survivor. That forced us to have more honest, open communication.

Even though the hurdles can be really tough, opening up about these things can lead to stronger, better relationship.

Posts: 2262 | From: in transition | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The thing is, if every time someone touches you, you DO dissociate, you really are not present with them in that moment, then it really probably is NOT healthy for you to be touched at this time.

I know how hard it is to know that, how strong the urge can be to want to force oneself to "be normal" and to go through the motions, but at the same time, that really is a barrier to healing, and your healing is a far more important thing than someone getting any kind of sex that they want, or having a sexual/romantic relationship, you know?

As well, if this is someone who does deeply care for you, who you are otherwise very close to, disclosing your abuse history and having it out, not hidden, can also help you TO be able to get to a point where you can really be in the moment with sex you want (note the "you" in that), to not dissociate. Disclosing to someone who really gives a hoot also allows you the time to go without sexual touch before you're ready, because someone who cares is not going to go there if you're clear you're not at that point yet.

The letter atm1 suggested is a really good idea if speaking it is tough.

But again, do you feel like he's the right person for you to tell or be with? Is this someone you can trust, who clearly does care for you and loves you? If not, it may be that not only is telling not right with him, but that being with him in this way isn't, either.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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

Posts: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3