a take on sex and sexuality as a survivor of rape

I wrote this piece for a project “a take on sex and sexuality as a survivor of rape” I wanted to post it here too.

The room was dark and damped, I found comfort in staring at the barely moving curtain on the wide-open window it was a hot summer day. It was late and I could hear cars passing by. We had booked a hotel room for newlyweds. This was neither my nor his city, we both traveled there to get married. Curled up into a fetus position I tried to swallow the lump in my throat as tears mixed with snort run down my face. I bit the blanket hard to keep myself steady and to not wake my groom by how I shivered. In front of me hang the white wedding dress gracefully. And in comparison to my wedding dress, I felt anything but graceful. I was confused, hurt, in pain, and ashamed! Was this what sex with your husband is like? am I supposed to feel this way? I loved him, he loved me, so why did I feel used? I felt disgusted with myself.

We didn’t talk about sex at all! that was one huge mistake! The closest thing to talking about sex we did was when I told him that I was a survivor of rape. He cried and felt sorry for me, but that was it. We never spoke about it again. But you see being a survivor of rape doesn’t end with the rape itself. It is something that affects and changes our entire functioning system. It affects how we think, how we feel about ourselves. our mental health etc. I have suffered from PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder many years after the fact. I have also suffered from severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks. Which all got worse after getting married.

If we don’t seek professional help and tons of therapy, being a survivor of rape affects who we attract and get involved with. Oh yeah, rape is not something one can fully recover from. But it is possible to live with, I am approaching my 32 years of age! And I tell you this, I am still healing and I think I will keep on healing as long as I live. I remember my wedding night was one of my worst nights. I was confused because my body wanted the affection and kisses and physical contact and yet when he was done, I was left more confused. Here we should have paused! The first intercourse after a rape has a lot of weight to it! it means a lot and it will determine whether you and your partner will have a healthy relationship. Communication and understanding are crucial here. Communication before, during and after sex is key. A safe space if one of you decides to not go through with it, pause and cuddle instead. Make the survivor feel and know she/he is safe. It doesn’t matter how long ago the person was raped! thread lightly! Be considerate, pay attention to their response, let it be a pleasure for both. Trust me once safety is in place you will have plenty of time to wild. Have patience.

As a young woman, I wasn’t self-aware and secure as I am today. And I did not think that sex was something I should want unless it was to have children.

I cried myself to sleep that night and many nights after that. the morning after our first night as newlyweds, he was acting different, perhaps I was looking for clues to see if he still loved me all insecure and fragile. while we ate breakfast in our room, I noticed that he was looking at me funny, measuring me with his eyes and looking away when I looked at him. «why were you crying?» he asked suddenly while chewing his bread. He didn’t look at my face once, his eyes wandered from one place to another. I felt the lump return to my throat. «erm, did you hear me? sorry I didn’t mean to wake you.» I said feeling ashamed even more. «why did you cry though?» it’s not like you were a virgin. He didn’t say that, but I felt so judged by his eyes. I think it is safe to say that I was suffering from depression and I was just a kid! a 23-year-old kid!

To make a long story short I got divorced and spent many years after that to heal myself. I went to therapy oh yeah! lots and lots of hours talking, writing, crying, sleeping, and painting. Life is happening as we are healing.

For many years I would go to work, and to a psychiatric every second week, then once a month, then I stopped. I picked up tools that work for me. For instance where I used to stay awake terrified after I’ve had nightmares, Instead, I would focus on my breathing, center myself, all is well tap tap on my chest, you are all right I say to calm myself. Then once I was back to myself I would watch something funny until I fell asleep. Nowadays I don’t have nightmares but I do get triggered. When that happens I make sure to care for myself extra that day by doing one or two things I love. Being self-aware learning what triggers you, and reminding yourself that it is alright to feel mad, angry, scared, mourn for what you have endured, is a OK! Cry ugly cries, howl, and let it all out. All these steps are necessary for our healing.

I am a big girl, have always been between curvy, chubby, fat, and fabulous. Hehe, but I started to love and celebrate my body. I would stand and watch myself in my birthday suit in the mirror. If a self-hating thought lurked in my head I rebuked it right then and there. I don’t walk out of the bathroom unless I have programmed my mind to see every curve and jiggle as beautiful and worthy of love.

Clique much? Oh, I’m not done! listen we, we the survivors of any sort of abuse, know of pain. We need to know about kindness too and feel loved. And we need to learn to love ourselves. I had to! And I thank the rebel in me for that.

Sex can be such a pleasure once you establish a safe space not only is it good it is, in fact, therapeutic. Safe space and communicate with one another without shame. Girl fight for your right to pleasure your beautiful body. It’s your birthright.

I fell in love again and got married some years later, this time I had healed a bit. I had started to enjoy my own body and was confident. So when he too tired to use me as a dumping ground, I grabbed his hand and pulled him back to bed and said nope! no sir! you can’t jump off this plane while I am still in the clouds. Finish what you started sir. lol

In my second marriage, we had a lot of issues, buf if I only focus on the sex part (as this piece is about sex as a survivor of rape) at first, it was exhausting to consistently fight for my right to come down from clouds! I had to convince my then-husband that I too was a sexual being with needs. The fact that I could communicate this without shame was “unheard” of according to my ex. (insert Lady Gaga, born this way) He was so confused and even got angry at times. That I didn’t fake orgasms and answered honestly when he asked if I too was done. but I kept it real with him.

This had nothing to do with his skills or his endurance. This was all about selfishness. You can not be selfish in bed! Especially with a survivor of rape. This is her body, you are lucky to be sharing her body with her first of all, secondly, she has a right to enjoy herself! The solution is to explore one another and together find out what and how each of you likes it. Listen to one another and respect each other’s boundaries. Let me end that by saying, once he was on board with my honesty it was a lot of fun for both!

Remember I mentioned briefly in the first paragraph that unless we heal and seek help to deal with our traumas, rape affects who we attract? Yes, it was true in my case, I attracted men with abusive tendencies.

After my second divorce I promised myself three things, not to become a bitter soul, a broken spirit(a wingless bird), or a tamed lioness. Why? Because I had within me all the ingredients to create such a bitter broken tamed spirit. (Before healing from the traumas) But I also have a genuine love for life and all that is beautifully soft and kind. Life is beautiful with self-love, art, and music, therapy, and prayers. And a good orgasm is a stress reliever.

Now that is something my 23 years old self would never dare to think let alone confess. But the fact is, women too are sexual beings!. It is natural for our bodies to not only want but need to have sex. Yes including us the survivors of rape.

For me, I think it has always been a way of thinking “they will not win and take away my joy” self-respect is one of my joys. If I disrespect my body by allowing men to use it as a jerking hand, I will loot myself. And that selfish kind of intercourse over time will leave me feeling used. This too will make me hate myself. Which then creates new trauma. A new cycle of abuse. Why though? Why should I suffer furthermore? Why should you? I decided no! Enough is enough, I can’t erase the past, I can’t control the future but damn it, I won’t allow anyone to make me feel used ever again. so I decided to never pretend I’m satisfied when I wasn’t in order to please his(my ex’s)ego.

I could write a lot more but I want to end this note by saying this; what happened to you was not your fault, no you didn’t ask for it. There is nothing you could have done to stop it. It had happened. Unfortunately, it is unfair yes. Life is unfair. And no there is no shame nor is there a shred of the guilt of yours in this. The shame and guilt belong to them. The rapist. And although they came in and destroyed our homes, we are the ones who must pick ourselves up. And guess what? We deserve to be loved, we deserve respect and ought to be respected. Don’t ask for it, if someone isn’t aware of your worth walk away. Let no one ever use your story as a weapon to put you down. My dear, carry your story with pride, head high, yes bad things happened to us, and no we aren’t specially chosen for this! Many suffer the same faith because there are ugly souls among us. But we, yes we deserve better, and damn it we deserve to feel good.

Never give up hope for a better life my dear.❤

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