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(NSFW) Reclaiming A Healthy View of Sex After Sexual Trauma

A common struggle among people who've survived sexual trauma is the difficulty with maintaining a healthy view of sex. Some of these challenges are:

  • Physical pain when engaging in sex.
  • Lack of desire for sex / avoiding sex.
  • Invasive memories or flashbacks of the sexual trauma during sex.
  • Wanting to or engaging in dangerous or emotionally harmful sexual behaviors. This can include re-enacting the "roughness" of their assault as foreplay during sex.
  • Relationships feeling invasive.

With some regularity, people who have been sexually assaulted often think that just because they orgasmed during the assault, they must have wanted it, asked for it, or liked it. While this is understandable, the notions that the mind rationalizes as the truth are often mistaken. This reminds me of the Family Guy meme, where a woman shouts "All sex is rape!" There's actually a backstory there, in real life.

Anyway, the point is that people who have been raped often view sex as a tool or weapon to be used for personal gain and control; that the act isn't sexual or pleasurable, but more of a way to assert one's dominance and authority over someone else in a cruel way that violates the very essence of feeling at home and safe in your own body.

The point of reclaiming a healthy view of sex after trauma isn't to have sex just for the sake of having sex with your partner. It's about feeling safe enough to say "no" when you're not comfortable with doing something sexually.

Survivors of assault will often rationalize the idea they are tainted, that they aren't a good person for not being strong enough to stop their assault. This is a really damaging mindset and a vicious cycle.

I'm not an expert on "reclaiming a healthy view of sex" by any means. I believe in only having sex after marriage. However, after my experience, I did view it as "all sex is rape." I was that one person who couldn't fathom why anyone would want to voluntarily have sex when it's just allowing yourself to be dominated, abused and smacked around like a useless sex toy.

While you could try therapy, I haven't had any luck with it. Most of my therapy experiences were as effective as talking to a cat or parrot about my problems and thoughts.

What I did find helpful, however, was changing what sex means to me. I was patient with myself and didn't force myself to change my opinion straightaway. Spend some time with your body, and allow yourself to fall in love with who you are emotionally and physically. Explore the different aspects of your body, naked. Really. Feel yourself. Love yourself. When you find yourself disassociating while looking at yourself in the mirror, bring your thoughts back to the present moment and try to see yourself as a victory, not a victim; because you've survived.

I can't necessarily give proper advice on what to do if you want to have sex with your partner but are scared to, but in my experience having done intern counseling in the past, it's simple. Sex or no sex, you have to figure out if your partner is genuine and patient with you. The more open and honest you are with regards to your fears about sex, the better. Eventually, you'll feel safe enough to have sex with your partner if there are no secrets about your fears or sexual traumas kept hidden. It really all comes down to honesty, patience, and giving yourself the gentle love you deserve.

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