Sex After Sexual Abuse

I want to thank you Melanie for allowing me to broach this subject on your blog. I’ve tossed around the idea of doing a post on this topic, for some time; Truth be told, I’m a little scared.

It stands to reason, that when one has been sexually abused, it will affect ones sex life immensely.

There are many ways it can ambush a person, but I’ll share what it’s done to me. First I have to give a little background.

I was born into an abusive family, up until recently I thought the sexual abuse began through a neighbourhood boy at around the age of 10. I’ve learned just in the last few months, that I was victim to my grandfather as a baby. So from infant up to my late 20’s I’ve been through all forms of sexual abuse and any other kind of abuse you can imagine. The first rape I remember happened, when I was 11 years old by that neighbourhood boy. I had no family support even though I told. It was swept under the carpet. I was looked down upon.

What has this done to me? It’s done a lot of damage. For starters, in my late teens to late 20’s I based my worth on how good I was at sex, and how many guys I could get. I had no idea guys could do it without feeling anything, so my heart was broken often. The more that I lost men after, the more my self worth sank. I never felt good enough (A message my father also instilled in me beforehand.) I was looking for the love I hadn’t received at home. It opened the door to a lot more abuse. I wasn’t taught to say “no.” In my family the word “no” was almost taboo.

It almost goes without saying; I was used and abused constantly. I developed a reputation, a horrible name, which I can’t bring myself to say, but I believe you can imagine.

As painful as that word directed at me was, it became the beginning of change. It woke me up.

I’d never learned boundaries, and what happens when you don’t learn boundaries, is you’ll often go to opposite extremes. That’s just what I did. I went from all to nothing. I was a complete mess, with breakdown included and all alone.

I’m going to fast forward to my present. I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 10 years. I have zero sex drive. Hubby never forces me in any way, but I do it for him. I often feel panic, have flashbacks of the abuse, and dissociate. In order for me to be able to have sex, I often go numb. This is also a part of C-PTSD caused in part to all the sexual abuse I endured.

Poor Hubby never knows if I’m being honest about wanting sex when I tell him I do, because to this day, I can’t say “no” and he knows it. I’ve learned that pleasing men at my expense is what’s done and saying “no” was dangerous for me. It doesn’t matter what my needs are as long as the man is pleased. This in large part is a lesson learned from my narcissistic abusive father. This lesson is a lie.

In my mind, I’m married so it’s a sense of duty.(Apparently that’s not true) Hubby is always guessing with me and often feels like he’s raping me, because he’s not sure I’m into it. Honestly I’m mostly not but, I want to try. I love my Husband.

To sum this up, what is supposed to be a beautiful gift between two people who love each other, has become a horrible dirty monster that needs slaying.

I’m working hard in therapy to change my mindsets, so that I can learn to enjoy the gift of sex. It’ll take a lot of work, but I believe it’s worth it. I’m grateful to have a supportive loving Husband to stand by me through this.

Has abuse affected your sex life? How do you feel about sex if you’ve been abused?

I can’t end this without saying, there is hope!

behindthemaskofabuse.com

About the Author

ZoeBehind the mask of abuse is a real person. A real person longing to feel safe in a dangerous world. Sometimes, still feeling like that little abused girl with no one to save her. A person who doesn’t fully know who she is because it was never safe to find out. Now it is. She’s progressing from victim to victory, one baby step at a time. I welcome you to join me on this journey.

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94 comments

  1. So proud of you for sharing here! You are a very brave lady. I can’t even imagine how confusing its all been for you to find your way through this maze of Love and Sex and Boundaries. I’m hopeful that continued therapy will help you feel more comfortable in your own skin…You’re very lucky to have the love and support of your husband. I know for me, having that with my husband has made all the difference. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, I’m truly grateful for my Hubby, it has made a huge difference. I’m glad you too have a good man.
      It is confusing wading my way through all this, I never had healthy role models either, but I’m learning.

  2. twindaddy · · Reply

    Zoe, thank you so much for sharing. You are not required to have sex with your husband, but it shows how much you love him to do it even though you derive no pleasure from it and at the risk of exposing yourself to triggers.

    Stay strong, Zoe. You know how to reach me if needed.

    1. Thank you so much. Hubby always tells me I don’t have too, and makes it safe to say no, but my training is so ingrained that I really struggle to say no yet. I will get there. I really do love my Hubby he is thee biggest gift in my life.

      1. twindaddy · · Reply

        I’m glad you found someone who is so supportive of you. It makes all the difference in the world to have that.

        1. it sure does, it’s not perfect he has his battles too, but what relationship is. Bottom line we truly love and respect each other. 🙂

          1. twindaddy · · Reply

            Good. I’m glad you have that.

            1. me too and to me it’s a miracle after what i came of. it is possible to find someone good. 🙂

              1. twindaddy · · Reply

                It is indeed.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. My back story is different, but trying to tie my self-worth and value via sex is something I struggled with for years. I know how difficult that is and am glad you were able to break that part of the cycle. With few exceptions (when I was married, long term relationships), I have lost most emotional connection. It is all physical, which I am still not sure is a bad thing or a good thing.

    You and your husband are lucky to have each other. Sending you strength and peace as you work this out in therapy. Baby steps are always the best ones.

    1. I’m sorry you’ve been there. It’s such a difficult and painful thing, and one that is not easy to talk about. I understand losing emotional connection too, I did eventually shut down so as not to get hurt anymore. It was like going through the motions but not really being there/present.
      I don’t know either to be honest if all physical is good or bad, maybe you are feeling through the physical?
      I’m truly grateful to have a loving Hubby!
      Sending you strength and peace as well. xo

  4. Thank you for sharing this; after being abused, moving into a caring and loving relationship is difficult. I have had health issues which didn’t help my lack of drive, but the abuse made it worse. I am grateful for my current husband, who is the perfect match for me, even though he can’t understand abusive people (and I am glad for that!). Many blessings to you as you grow!

    1. Thank you AR. It is really difficult almost surreal to be treated well. I’m so sorry you’ve both been abused and have health issues. I too have health issues that complicate things further and I often wonder if they are a result of abuse as well.
      It’s so good to know that you too have a loving Husband, it’s a big deal for those of us who have been abused to end up with a good man.
      Blessings to you as well. 🙂

  5. Ugh. I can relate to every bit of that. For most of my life, my self-esteem was directly tied to how attracted men were to me and how many partners I could get. If someone rejected me for whatever reason, it was crushing. I saw sex as love. I’m glad you found someone who understands and doesn’t pressure you.

    1. I’m sorry you too know this battle it sucks! I too interpreted sex as love, it’s sad how distorted things can get when we have bad role models. I hope things are better for you now?

      1. Well, I like you it seems, kind of shied away from sex altogether for a while. It’s still hard not to connect those ingrained dots that sex is love, but I’m much better about it than I used to be and the promiscuity is gone. So that’s good. It’s a lifelong struggle. Abuse sucks.

        1. It’s so hard to know how to feel when we don’t know what healthy is in this way. I’m unable to receive someone loving me to, I’m just numb. I’m glad for your safety the promiscuity is gone! That’s a big thing. Unfortunately it is a lifelong struggle 😦

          1. It is a big thing. Unfortunately, it meant shutting it off altogether, but I still think that’s better than the alternative.

            My issue, as always, is how much of me is really me and how much of me is abused-me. I am who I am as a result of abuse, but I have no idea who I really am without the abuse.

            1. Oh my gosh I’m so glad you said that it’s exactly how I feel. I do shut off, and I really don’t know who I am under all the abuse. It’s awful, it’s like limbo

              1. Yup. I’d rather shut down than be open for business. It’s much safer. However, being shut down isn’t healthy either. We’ve got to find some middle ground. We’ve got to find out who we are through the abuse. Even though the abuse is a part of us, we have to find some compromise.

                1. I agree, I know I’ve discovered little bits and pieces of the real me, like I love art and tattoos…It was never safe for me to like those things when the family was in my life. Have you discovered anything?

                  1. I like art and music is a huge part of me. That’s all me. I think. And the tattoos too. No one else in my family has any.

                    1. that’s great so you have found some parts of you!! no one else in my family has tattoos either!

                    2. Gah. It pisses me off that I don’t and never will know who I am without the abuse. We never had a chance to know who we are without it. But every little thing we do find is a celebration, like a little ray of light in all the darkness. Cheers.

                    3. It pisses me off too, it’s not fair that they took that from us, but you’re right, we have to celebrate the things we do find!!

                    4. It’s not fair at all, but we can’t let them win! High five and hugs, dear. 🙂

                    5. you know it high five and hugs to you too!

  6. You are very courageous . I have started sharing my story.in my blog. in poetry and writing. There are so many stories out there. So many that need to be told as long as we can help one person break free.

    1. Thank you and I’m glad you’re able to speak up about it too, I believe it truly makes a difference. 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing this Zoe. You are so strong. I have struggled with similar issues. I have had sex just because I could not say no. I have suffered some severe physical manifestations from my abuse that have made sex painful, which adds some difficulty. Right now, I am in a phase of no sex. I think I need some time to recover without the “retraumatization” that comes from sex. Eventually, I am hoping I will be able to have a healthy sexual relationship, but it is quite a challenge.

    1. Hello,

      I’m so sorry abuse has robbed from you in this way too. I wish it weren’t so for anyone. Saying “no” is so hard when it was dangerous to do so growing up. I’m so glad you know that what you need is time away from it and you’re taking that time. That is taking care of you. I truly believe there is hope (with work) for it to get better.
      Sorry it has caused you physical pain too.
      much love xo

  8. Thanks for sharing your story, Zoe. My sister took the approach to sex you talk about, whereas I have never had sex because I won’t let anyone touch me (I refuse to call the molestation by my mother sex!. So you can go too far in either direction. In my mind I knew sex was not equal to love and I hated having my personal space invaded so it felt safer to abstain and let people imagine I must be a lesbian or in training to become a ‘crazy cat lady’!
    You’re brave to put yourself through sex for your Hubby when it is still not comfortable for you. I hope you can get to a point in therapy where you can have sex be something enjoyable instead of associated with trauma.

    1. I’m so sorry the abuse you’ve been through at the hands of your mother, the one who is supposed to protect you, robbed sex from you. My heart breaks at the thought of that. I totally understand how you would not want it, it represents something horrible for you. Thank you for sharing this, it couldn’t have been easy xo

      1. Thanks for your kindness. It wasn’t easy but I am getting beyond it. If I meet the right guy I don’t think it will be a problem. But I couldn’t handle the idea of sex so I’ve been a nun without the religion or the convent! LMAO

        1. Good for you for taking care of what you need and knowing what you need. Nun lol

          1. Yeah, I know. I laugh at the thought of being a nun too. Although I did want to be a monk for a time in my younger years. Not sure if women can be monks or not so maybe I’d have to settle for nun (Buddhist not Catholic!).

            1. There must be something in the Buddhist realm that women can be.

              1. IDK, Pema Chodron is a famous Buddhist nun with lots of books published, you may have heard of her? Anyway, she is a nun because I think I recall reading her say in one of her books that only men can be monks. Women are nuns. I am not certain though.

                1. interesting, i did not know that. 🙂

  9. ems612 · · Reply

    Very brave for sharing. I can relate to almost everything you have wrote. And while that’s sad it gives me a great deal of hope reading this. You’re so amazing keep sharing your hope ❤

    1. thank you, i’m sad too that you can relate but it also feels good to know we’re not alone. keep holding onto hope!! xo

  10. I’m so glad you told it all! You shined the light on the secret – it’s not going to be a big scary monster needing to be slain. You made him smaller and less scary by telling. *Big Hugs Inserted Here!* As you know, from my blog, I have the opposite issue. I can have sex and not feels things, but now that I know more about my abuse, it’s not as easy for me to do that. Now those pesky, messy emotions are waking up and just kind of rockin’ my boat. You have truly been blessed with a man who knows pure love and gives that to you. @Deliberate Donkey, thank you for sharing your blog with Zoe. The more the story is told, the more we all speak out, the less power the abuse has and the abusers lose their control! Peace to you both ❤

    1. Thank you very much! Sorry you have a struggle of you own with this for the same reasons. xo

      1. We are all in this together, we all have a story. Its terrible and horrible, but we do. However, we all have each other. The anonymous person on the other side of the screen who understands better than our best friend. Then I wonder about the people who haven’t found that haven’t found a way to tell their story. And then they stumble across WP doing a search and they find that there was this lady who shared what happened to her. And it was so like their own story, they could have used the same words. Then they realize, there are people to connect with. People who understand. We’re all working out our “stuff” and venting and questioning and having epiphanies and this broken person gains some strength from our honest humanity and sees that there really is hope.

        1. What a gift all the people on WP are. You’re right, I’ve taken so much from others through this, I hope in some way this gives back.
          Much love xo

  11. Zoe thanks for sharing your story. I think this must’ve been hard for you to write so well done for being so brave. I have problems with sex too, the way things were with my ex I learnt that I had to do what he wanted and that sex meant everything. I am very lucky to have a boyfriend that never pressures me and understands that I find it difficult. Even when I try quite often I end up having to stop because I panic or have flashbacks. I was thinking about writing a post about this soon actually. Glad your husband is so understanding too, you deserve to be treated well! 🙂 Hugs xxx

  12. HUGS HUN!
    I know a little oh how you feel. I only had it happen to me a few times. Rape once, abuse ongoing for a year ish. Nothing right now feels right. My therapy keeps getting prolonged. I’m never close to get past my stuck points. I hope things continue to go better in a way for you.

    1. Thank you kindly. You know even if it happened once it’s still serious and has serious affects. It only takes once to change a person. I’m so very sorry it happened to you too. I understand things not feeling right but good for you for going to therapy to work through it. What kind of therapy do you do? There are three kinds I know that work really well and help a lot for those of us who have been abused. Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, and OEI. I’m did Somatic for a couple of years and that was life changing for me. I’m working with OEI now and it’s more intense but also making a big difference. The only reason I changed therapy types is because of a move. Take care of you and I know things will get better for both of us xo

      1. I’m in CPT for PTSD. It’s helping. I have stuck points. Some severe ones that keep pushing back.. I’ve been on the same part of therapy for a few weeks now.. Safety.

        YOu take care too. HUGS

        1. I haven’t heard of CPT, what is that? I’m curious. I’m glad to hear it’s helping.
          I’m guessing the stuck points are very deep rooted battles?

          Hugs back xo

          1. CPT is used in PTSD victims, mainly soldiers, but also victims of rape, abuse, and traumas. Its Cognitive Processing Therapy.
            I’m stuck on trust and safety the most. Been on them for a few weeks.

            1. Oh wow how does it differ from CBT?

              The two therapies I’ve been doing are also used on soldiers but good for victims of rape,abuse and trauma.

              I’m leaning something new every day!

              I can understand being stuck on trust and safety!

              1. I think it’s just an adaptation of the cbt therapy. So I’m not sure what the actual difference would be. I’m receiving the therapy through the local rape center.

                Safety and trust. Things that have been taken from me, and I have never found again. I don’t know if I can ever.

                1. Oh okay. 🙂 Safety and trust are so difficult to get back, i’m not there yet either but getting there, i believe it’s possible xo

                  1. Everytime I start thinking I’m getting there, they’re ripped right back away. It’s a never ending cycle. I wish it would stop.

                    1. I understand this, it’s probably a terrifying prospect. I know it scares me.

                    2. Very much. I’m careful, over careful to a point, about who I let into my life. Each time they turn out to be an issue to safety or trust, the criteria gets harder and less and less is allowed in.

                    3. i hear you! i still haven’t been able to completely and totally let my Hubby in and he’s the most trustworthy person in my life. he’s the one i trust more than anyone i have have.

                    4. I keep thinking I find someone like that, but then there is always something that happens that lands me flat on my back. I don’t understand it. It’s a huge what did I do to deserve this loop in my head.

                    5. you didn’t do anything to deserve it, you’re likely finding yourself with what you know. i did that for years.

                      the only way i ended up with a good man is listening to those friends around me who could see his love and care for me. i pushed him away for three years and treated him so badly because his love and kindness was very foreign to me and therefore scary.

                    6. I have no idea what love is, or even how to show someone i like them. Even worse, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to show that anyone. I wasn’t shown it in personal romantic type of relationships, and I don’t know how to express it. It’s like I’m broken.

                    7. i totally understand this. i can feel love to a degree for Hubby or others but am unable to feel it full out yet, it scares me.

                      receiving love is even more difficult, i don’t know how to do that yet. we have been broken but the hope is, we don’t have to stay that way, we can recover, albeit with hard work, but we can xo

                    8. I understand.

                      Love, I just don’t understand it. I try to, but I guess I really don’t.

                    9. i’m so sorry, i can tell you really want to. it just sucks what abuse does to us

                    10. I know. I push myself each day to try to. But it’s always escaping my grasp by so little.

                    11. Trying not to. Working on getting some of it out and down on “paper” so to speak. Like one that is going to be on Stuph Blog tomorrow am.

                    12. that’s great! oh you’re guest posting on Suff??!! that’s awesome!! i can’t wait to read it!

                    13. It will be there 🙂 This one was hard to do, but I needed to. ANd TD was nice enough to help me with it.. a duet.

                    14. Good for you for doing it!! TD rocks! He’s a great friend!

                      I’ll be reading it tomorrow! I hope you’re okay after writing it! xo

                    15. He is. I tell him about what I want to write about and he doesn’t question. Just goes with it.

                    16. Thank you. TD is awesome for helping me put my thoughts into something cohesive and semi intelligent.

                    17. i’m sure you’re intelligent all on your own too!

                    18. Sometimes I have my moments.

  13. I am so proud of you for sharing so openly and so honestly. I am sure this post was immensely difficult to write. But I am also sure you have helped people by writing it.
    I agree that there is hope. I had plenty of therapy and finally got to a healthy place with sex. It is possible, but you need to give yourself the time and space to heal. I am so glad you have a caring husband — you deserve to have a good man in your life. I am just so sorry that he was the first good one and that you’ve endured so much pain.
    Thank you for your courageous post.
    xoxo

  14. Zoe,
    Your words have touched my heart. I know how hard it is to move forward after your power has been stripped, but you’re on the right track and I have faith in your ability to emerge triumphant.
    Be well.
    The Hook.

    1. Thank you very kindly! I plan to get back what was taken.

      Take care

      1. As you should.

  15. Zoe,
    I am so very sorry. Sex has caused me endless problems through life and I know it doesn’t have to be that way; shouldn’t be that way. We could talk so much one-on-one, but I can’t share a lot with people about many things. I am a very open and honest person, but … well, you know how it is. I didn’t have the problems you had. I am very thankful for that. A lot of my problems were just situational and mental. I grew up with a religion/sex diversity and have always had that at the center. Recently, (partially, due to the stroke) I have realized many things and am not really the same person at all. I fought so much with myself growing up; it is good to have that, almost entirely, stopped.
    I will continue my prayers for you. I am glad you have such a great, understanding husband. I can tell he loves you; that is a big help in the road to recovery. Don’t ever give up!
    Scott

    1. Thank you Scott I won’t give up! I want to take back my life in this area.

      I’m sorry you’ve had struggles too. I totally understand the religious end of it too…ugh!
      I hope things continue to improve for you in the ways that you need most.

  16. I slept with everyone. I e-mailed out the funny stories to my friends, about the guy who was so small, I laughed in his face. The guy I accidentally puked on. The guy who our first time was a complete nightmare and then I got drunk enough to try again. I lost count, I’ve forgotten names, I tried to be a lesbian, I’ve made a porn (got to pay the bills somehow.) I don’t question why I hate myself. I fully understand.

    E.A.

    1. My heart goes out to you, I’m so very sorry for the pain you’ve been through.

      Don’t give up, there’s always a way out.

      xo

  17. I just sent you a huge cyber hug Zoe… This is going to be the hardest situation for me to touch on.. I am sure I will feel a huge sigh of relief when I get to that point to let it out. I am very proud of you my friend.

    1. Thank you Becki!! It’s a tough one!! Hugs to you too. xo

      1. I know it is.. I need strength like you have.

        1. i think you have lots of strength and when the time is right for you, you’ll know. i still didn’t have the guts to put it up on my blog..lol

          1. After my brother beating me down verbally yesterday it has set me back a bit. I was going to write about the “C” but backed off because in no way am I going to have him or anyone else say I am looking for sympathy. Screw em all. I would rather keep it to myself now.

            1. You’re welcome to do a guest post about it on here. Then you’re followers can stand with you and no one from your world can attack xo

  18. […] Sex After Sexual Abuse […]

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