Monday, October 18, 2010

Intimacy after Abuse......How?

Intimacy, what frightening word it can be for those of us who have suffered sexual abuse.  What we see in the movies never comes to fruition; always lurking in the background is that ever so present fear of a flashback, some insignificant insecurity reminding you that you are not perfect or just the lack of strength to go through with the act.  For many survivors, talking about this issue is very difficult.  It may seem that there is something wrong with you for feeling so afraid and ashamed.  There is nothing wrong with you.  Just as a an abused dog that cowers every time it’s master raises his hand even if the intention is not to hit the same for the survivor of abuse.  Sex is not fun; it takes a whole lot to make it a pleasurable experience.  What we can look forward to, is that as we heal from these traumas so will the strength of these “intimate attacks”. 
Why do people experience these kinds of symptoms?  If you are one of these people, know that you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you.  When you are abused sexually, it is disfiguring the most vital part of us.  It is complete and utter treachery of trust and affection.  To be frank, it is a primal attack on an individual’s sexuality.
 There are 2 outcomes to this scenario; rarely do we find a person that has been sexually abused to find common ground.  One person might completely isolate themselves from having any sort of sexual activity in fear that they will show their vulnerability to the other person.  They may also feel extremely insecure and not want to fully commit to the act because they are ashamed of their bodies or that they will not be good enough.  Others on the other hand might indulge in having a lot of sex with several partners, more than what they did before the attack if relevant.  When your sexuality is stolen from you, it holds no bearing, it is not important anymore so who cares who you give it to.  Many people have more sex to try to regain some sort of control over what they lost.
After sexual abuse or sexual assault has taken place, it may take years for the real issues to surface.  For some though, it can happen right away.  For me, I had no idea there was a problem until I found myself in a relationship that is when everything began to rise to the surface.  It was almost like I was a volcano of emotions.  As soon as the words I love were spoken to me my doors closed and shut down.  Maybe it was because I actually felt safe and could finally let my guard down.  I didn’t love myself and having someone love me seemed impossible.
After digging deep within myself, research and talking to other survivors I have come up with a list of collective issues that stem up after sexual abuse or assault.  They are listed from most common to least expressed:
   1. Running away from sex/ afraid of it
   2. Sex is a chore rather than something enjoyable
   3. Anger, repulsion, distress, crying after a sexual encounter (touch or intercourse)
   4. Unable to reach orgasm, unable to feel aroused (primarily in women)
   5. Disconnected during sex/ thinking about everything else but the sex
   6. Flashbacks
Being able to identify what is bothering you is very important in the healing process.  I am still very angry that because of what these animals did to me, I am affected as an adult.  I have come to recognize what it is particularly that affects me the most and I am still working on these issues.  By no means is this something that is going to happen overnight but it will happen with hard work and commitment.  The abuse has caused survivors to look at sex in a negative light; our sub-conscience mind insists that all sex is bad sex, worthless, meaningless.  The mind is a very powerful thing.  We can change that frame of mind and begin to see sex as a beautiful thing, a fun thing, and an exciting adventure.
What we need to remember is that the effects the abuse is like a stain on our sexuality.  It is very hard to get rid of a stain but if we wash enough and have powerful enough detergents that stain will come off.  Sometimes stains don’t ever go away, but they become faded and that is ok too.  What is important is that we clean ourselves from this guilt and horror and learn to accept that sex, in its positive form is part of human nature.  Rock the boat and love it.
~The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He frees himself and shows the way to others. Freedom and slavery are mental states.
                                                                                                -Mahatma Gandhi


  1. Im trying to remember that I can give my self to my husband.I got so used to people just taking it from me...But Im A women now and Im in control of my body.

  2. That's the right way to look at it. You would think that in a committed relationship it would be easier to have sex but it is not. I think we are so used to it being something terrible that when it is something good it is just fake to us and we really could care less for it.