—– Disclaimer – if you are easily disturbed by honest discussions about sex and abuse, please do not read.———
I have been wanting to post about this topic forever but every time I start I sort of freeze and forget about it. Well, now is the time – maybe someone who is in a relationship with a survivor can somehow learn to understand what we go through when faced with intimacy, resulting in fewer relationship breakdowns…
Thing is, not only does sexual abuse wreck a child’s life, the effects are deeply buried within our bodies and souls, and they most often pop up in relationships and intimate situations.
I know quite a few survivors, and all have reacted differently. Some go completely off men and become lesbian (understandable). Some are frigid and cannot cope being around men. And yet there are the ones who go to the complete opposite direction and sleep with a lot of guys, searching for…something. Approval? Love? Knowledge that they can use men instead of the men using them?
I think I have fallen somewhere along this continuum and recognize all kinds of coping mechanisms in myself.
I used to be scared of men. Disgusted, even. I would have boyfriends, but would refuse to touch their penises, look at it, be grossed out by the mere thought of a man’s penis. Like, grossed out. Unfathomable disgust, although I might like the person themselves, but not their “man bits”
At the same time, I was obsessed with man bits. This is really sickening and it is the first time I talk about this or say it out loud (but I have to let it out no matter how disgusting or embarrassing…I owe it to myself to be honest), but when I was a lot younger I used to only stare at men down there and notice if they had a bulge and think about penises and reduce men to their genitals in my mind. It is really sickening to even think about it! But it is the truth. It was like a sick obsession – kind of like, you see something horrible happening and you’re grossed out but you can’t stop watching, it’s like self-torture.
Then I lost my virginity to a guy in the dark and it hurt. I was 16 years old and liked the guy and I guess we were “together” but we both went to different countries and it fell apart afterwards. All I remember thinking was that wow, amazing, I’m now a grown up and not a virgin anymore, as if being a virgin was something childish and a thing to get rid of.
I have also always been obsessed about finding “The One” and feeling like if I was loved enough and he was Perfect, I’d be happy and I’d have an amazing life. So for years before I met my last boyfriend I’d go to clubs and meet guys and prowl for Mr Perfect. Of course none of these guys were perfect, but I also held back sexually as that was a determining factor whether he was Perfect.
If a guy wanted to sleep with me, he was Not Perfect. A Perfect man would like me, but say no to me. But not no no, but I’d Rather Not Because I Respect You – No. No with a hint of Yes. Yet the Yes should never happen, he should want me a bit but respect me more and hence say no.
Makes little sense I guess..
I have serious difficulties in bed. I am embarrassed of sexuality, being naked, embarrassed of my desires and pleasure. Lights off when I come! please.
I can actually have an orgasm – I couldn’t for the longest time ever. I used to read women’s magazines in my teens and early twenties and wonder if I’d ever function normally. This is even before I remembered being abused, so it all made little sense to me. I just knew that something was seriously wrong with me because of my disgusting thoughts about men, my funny boundaries and ways of determining if the guy was Right or Wrong; to be kept around or tossed aside after a slight move away from the path I had drawn out for his behavior in my mind (of course the guys would never know what I expected of them – they should have just known. )
Then I got high and drunk one night with a girl friend who tied me to a bed and went down on me and I came! I was like whoa, this is what it’s about. And also, am I a lesbian now??
I started going towards that direction and ultimately lived as a lesbian for a few years, only dating women as I felt like a woman could never take advantage of me, a woman is safe, a woman can never really hurt me. With men, they are dangerous – I viewed intercourse as the ultimate goal over which we’d fight; me pushing the man away yet playing with fire, and the man wanting it but me never giving it up as to give it up would mean I lost the game, and I don’t wanna lose. I don’t want to allow a man inside of me for his pleasure!
Then I met my boyfriend and things changed. I actually wanted sex, I started enjoying it sometimes, I started trusting him, I was in love, he wanted to pleasure me which made me feel like he respected me and loved me and cared about me, and I liked it.
I learned to be naked with lights on although I couldn’t still let him go down on me without a blanket or a pillow in my face. I need to be alone in my thoughts and my expressions for me to let go and allow my body to experience the pleasure.
I felt liberated with him in so many ways. Yet it was tough and I also have my issues! I would initiate sex even when I didn’t really want it, and if he caught me up on that, I’d get upset that he didn’t want to sleep with me. It makes no sense! I used his man bits to bring pain to myself, to punish myself, to hurt myself, and it worked when he didn’t clock it, so I’d have to pretend I REALLY wanted it, but when it was over, I’d feel used and dirty.
Yet I did this to myself!
I took over from the abuse and kept abusing myself with the help of a loved one, and when he realized what I was doing I’d get mad because the fact that I could pretend pleasure without getting caught made me feel Strong. Powerful. Sneaky and Elated. Ha! You have no idea I hate this shit and I hate your dick, but I will use it to hurt my vagina and be in pain to punish myself, and the best part is you think I’m loving this shit.
And then sometimes I did love it. I had slept with a few guys over the years but had felt nothing – usually I’d go numb, zone out (very typical to survivors, partners beware!) fake it….But with Ex I learned to..let go? It felt like feelings were coming back and I would suddenly feel something that felt like pleasure, and I started enjoying intercourse and penetration.
We had fun. When I really actually wanted it for the pleasure and was genuinely turned on and wanting a sexual experience, it was good. Beautiful, amazing, good. Orgasms and hugs and kissing and feeling close to a human being that you care about and who cares about you, it was amazing.
It healed me a lot too. Although the sexual part of the relationship was tough – with me, you never know if I really want it, or if I’m in my obsessed self-hating, numb state where I want to feel something and pain is the preferred feeling – we rode it out and I opened up a lot.
I also got a lot of flashbacks. Again, partners beware, this will happen whether or not she tells you about it or not. After all, the abuse was sexual, so in a sexual situation, the familiar pain and images and feelings are so close that you can almost touch them.
Sometimes I wanted to have sex to remember. It was my gateway to the memories, and if I had to do it to access them, then I would.
I don’t think I felt used much, which is good. Usually I have always felt used by men, but I didn’t with Ex. He changed me, and the relationship – although difficult and it ended in the end – had a healing effect. Maybe not “healing” but definitely changing effect.
I have changed.
I now know that my pleasure is important. I also know that I need to be honest with myself. Why am I having sex? I can cut my arms if I need to self-harm, but to use sex for self-harm takes me closer back to the abuse that I don’t want to do it. To preserve my Girly Bits for pleasure is a MUST. I owe it to myself.
I want to respect my Girly Bits. They’re not ugly and disgusting, but beautiful. Although they were used for someone else’s sick pleasure when I didn’t have a choice or an awareness of it being wrong (I guess in a way I always knew it was wrong, but couldn’t stop it), I can now claim them back to my Pleasurable Possession. They are mine! And I choose who to share that part of me with.
I cannot be blackmailed, pushed, made to feel guilty. It has happened, and this is something I struggle with, but I want to make a public announcement that they’re mine from now on, and I – with my adult mind and decision making – choose who to share it with.
I wish I hadn’t been raped as a college student, but it is what it is. I had been abused and it had affected my decision making and I ended up in a bad situation.
I wish for more more sexual healing. I wish for a future partner who lets me cry when I get a flashback, who I can look in the eye when I come and not be embarrassed of my pleasure, I wish for understanding of the self and respect for myself.
I wish for meaningful sexual encounters with someone who cares about me. I wish for self pleasure that isn’t done because of obsessions and anger, but with loving care.
Phewwww….Lots on my mind….I wonder if anyone can relate to what I just said???