Lifestyle / Sex and Dating / Wellness

How I Came to Love Sex Again After Sexual Assault

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Editor’s Note: The following was submitted to VocaLady Magazine in which the author wished to remain anonymous, which is why we’re using our default “VocaLady Staff” as the by-line. Trigger warning for a description of sexual violence.

It was our first time trying to have sex since my assault and I was terribly dry.

As we perched on his bed, both fully nude, bodies intertwined, I had it in my head: we will have sex, it’ll be great, I want this, and it’s going to be awesome.

And yet my body wasn’t responding. My mind was aroused, deeply in love, yet my body was not. What was happening? I loved THIS man. This is the man I want to have sex with.

In desperation, I felt myself tensing further, panicking, as he asked me for the third time, babe, are you absolutely sure? Yes! Why wouldn’t I be sure? We had had amazing sex in the past. I wasn’t going to let another man ruin that, I’d adamantly decided. Yes, I want this. Brain to vagina. Come in, vagina. No signal.

The few moments of penetration that followed were painful, a pain so familiar that all of a sudden, my vision blurred and my thoughts raced away from me until I was no longer there with my boyfriend. I was in another place, one that was full of pain and terror and another man. My body tensed, my breathing quickened, my eyes teared, and my boyfriend quickly fell to my side, to hold me tightly. We would have to try again next week.

Sex after sexual assault isn’t easy. I knew this as much as my then-boyfriend and I tried to have sex mere days after a classmate sexually assaulted me. Despite my head’s stubborn determination to convince myself that this was the man I loved and wanted, my body refused to respond. Likewise, even when my body happily responded to my lover’s touch, I could suddenly find myself spinning into a terrible flashback that sent me gasping for breath and sobbing into his chest.

It was certainly frustrating. After years of a wonderful and active sex life, full of amazing, consensual sex and safe and exciting exploration, I felt as though one man had shattered the happy relationship I had with sex by taking away my agency. Sex became a battleground, a struggle for power in those minutes of the assault, and thereafter a struggle with my mind and body to love it again.

In order to enjoy sex after sexual assault, I had to take several key steps.

I am fortunate in that all of my partners after my assault were supportive and willing to take part in my sexual healing process. First and foremost, if you choose to include another person or other people in your healing process, making sure they’re supportive is key. From there, here are my techniques and advice for anyone struggling to love sex after sexual assault.

(These things worked well for me, though doesn’t mean they will work for everyone. Likewise, not everyone will have the same reaction to their sex life after an assault as I did. However, you react after assault is okay and normal).

Love Yourself
After my assault, I got myself a vibrator and, eventually, a dildo. These were first and foremost for me. Loving my body with these things, alone, taught me how to make myself feel good. I learned the importance of self-love, of learning how to make myself feel good before anyone else. After having my body used solely for the pleasure and satisfaction of power by another, it was incredibly healing to turn to sex toys to make solely love my body, on my own terms. Masturbating on my own gave me the sole control over my own body; I could make myself feel good at my own speed, on my own time. I bought my toys from Lovehoney, a website I highly suggest.

Check-in
This goes for all sexual contact. Consent, consent, consent. But, more importantly for survivors, is checking-in on both mind and body. One of my partners and I decided a yellow and red light system. Saying yellow light meant that we both had to check-in. Is my mind into it, but not my body? Vice versa? And I asked the same of my partner, who was cautiously navigating these waters as well, to see how they felt as we continued. Red light meant everything stopped immediately and typically signaled the need for cuddling.

Lube
This isn’t to say that if your body isn’t responding to sex you should force it to. But, for me, when my mind was into it, but not my body, I grew more and upset and frustrated when I couldn’t naturally get my body to respond. Pulling out a bottle of lube not only made things easier but also was just a normal way to get back into sex. So many people need to use lube during sex, so it didn’t feel like a chore or something abnormal only I had to do because sex was hard. Plus, lube is easy to use-just avoid oil-based lubes if you’re using condoms!

Roleplay
Before my assault, my then-boyfriend and I were rather into roleplays. Many of their roleplays included a sub/dom dynamic and although we occasionally switched it up, I typically act as the submissive. At first, my boyfriend and I worried slipping into these roles would be triggering and harmful to me, but we soon realized how healing they were. The BDSM community has a heavy focus on care and consent. You must consent to be a submissive and consenting means you have equal control in the sex play. Despite being submissive, I was aware that I had control and I hadn’t been stripped of my agency. I had made a choice. Similarly, when acting as a dom, I knew my boyfriend also had control to shift the scene or stop it altogether. Roleplay reminded me of my own personal control and how important equality in sex is.

Sex after assault is possible. Years after, I can confirm that I’m back to having incredible sex. That said, everyone’s healing processes are different and there is nothing wrong with you if you can’t get back in the swing of things immediately. My hope is that these tips can help you re-establish a positive relationship with sex.

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One thought on “How I Came to Love Sex Again After Sexual Assault

  1. Pingback: A Survivor’s Response to President-Elect Trump | Vocalady

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