How can you have sex after surviving the trauma of sexual violence?

Some road-tested ideas. From one survivor to another yo!

Take your time. Start to learn your triggers. What are they? Do they change with anything? Are there times when you’re more trigger-able than not?

Explore with yourself. Have your turn-ons changed? What feels good? How do you feel initiating sex with yourself? What doesn’t feel good?

Chat with your partner. What would you like them to do for you? How would you like them to support you? Recognize that your desire might change, your interest in sex might be raging or sporadic, you might not be able to say or plan anything with certainty. And that’s okay.

Flashbacks could be a possibility. Safety plan with your partner around this. What are the signs that you’re numbing, detaching, or re-living trauma? What do you need your partner to do? How do you want to calm and ground? What do you need after? Flashbacks can lessen over time, but in the moment feel terrifying and very real for many survivors.

Take the pressure off. What are safe ways of connecting intimately? Are there alternatives that calm you, rather than trigger you? What is your body telling you?

You get to set the pace. You get to say no and yes as often as you want. You get to change your mind. You’re entitled to hot, gratifying sex after trauma, when and where and how you want it!

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An imagined conversation with my friend who is remembering childhood sexual abuse.

What is it like?

It’s like…doubting every memory. Every thought. Doubting the way you perceive people. Doubting your history.

It’s like…replaying tracts of your childhood that have suddenly taken on a new meaning. You can view them through a different lens now, and my god, does it change everything.

It changes EVERYTHING.

You try this lens on, and it fits so well, all the puzzle pieces that never made a picture suddenly do!

But.

It’s too jarring because it shatters the very ground that you stand on, the assumptions and happy family memories that make up who you are as a person and so you discard this lens, you throw it away and feel guilty and embarrassed and shameful and sick and wrong and evil and mean.

And you tell yourself this: “You’re crazy. You are a crazy person for thinking this. You’re wrong for thinking like this. You’re a bad girl for thinking like this. You’re only thinking like this because you’re a little fucked up since you were raped last year, and that’s why you’re thinking like this. You’re incorrect. You don’t remember shit. You’re wrong.”

Then you push it aside, you bury it, you focus on healing from rape and planning your future and you try to laugh this off. You convince yourself that you’re making it up, and good thing you didn’t tell anyone, because they would think that you’re crazy and sick.

It comes creeping back in. It always comes fucking creeping back. You try to squash it, that thought of…what if? And then before you know it you’re walking around every day feeling nauseous, feeling like your stomach has been punched through to your spine, feeling an ache inside you that hurts so much you actually moan out loud, while you’re in bed with your arms wrapped around yourself, trying to keep yourself together, trying to hold yourself in one piece, because you’re scared, you’re so fucking scared that you might suddenly remember and then disintegrate, as your life explodes and burns around you, and you’ll forget how to survive when your entire childhood is exposed for what it really was.

Because. What if. What if your body is trying to tell you something? What if your instinct is right? What if, your memories, thoughts and perceptions are to be trusted?

I see your pain, my love.