Thursday, 30 August 2012

Recognising the damage: Sexuality

Write about the ways you are still affected by the abuse. 

Write about the strengths you've developed because of the abuse. Think of what it's taken for you to survive. 

I am going to use the sub-headings mentioned in the book. I hope they will cover everything. 


"Sexual arousal became linked to feelings of shame, disgust, pain and humiliation. Pleasure became tainted as well...
... When abuse was coupled with affection, your needs for nurturing were linked to sex. You didn't learn to meet these needs in other ways."

I get uncomfortable when my father tries to get affectionate. I don't like him putting an arm around me. Or my brother. Or my father-in-law. I can't see anything innocent about it and that makes me feel disgusted with myself. That I can't trust them. Or any other man. I don't even trust Darren when he puts a casual arm around me. I take it to mean that he is horny and wants me to go to bed. 

Answering specific questions:

Are you able to stay present while making love? Do you go through sex numb or in a panic?

I'm never a 100% there. There are times when I am not there at all. My body is acting independently of my mind. If I happen to come back mid-session, I panic. The desire to push my husband away and leave the room is quite strong. I often find myself suffocating and unable to breathe. 

Then there are those times when I don't want sex and my husband does. There have been times when I have pretended to be half-asleep. If I do wake up and respond it is because that situation - me asleep whilst someone's trying to have sex with me - is something that happened over and over again in the abuse.

I also respond so as not to disappoint him. So that at least his needs will be met. I'm practised at pretending to enjoy it and making the right kind of noises. 

Do you use sex to meet needs that are not sexual? Can you accept nurturing and closeness in other ways?

Till I was 17 or 18, I didn't realise that sex actually made people happy in real life. Until that time, it was something that happened in books and America. If it happened in reality, it was a shameful thing that no one was supposed to do. I'd had two boyfriends. One long distance, so there was no scope for sex there. If ever he hinted over the phone that he wanted to do stuff with me, I didn't get the hint.

The other one, he was too sweet. Only once did he try to put his hand under my shirt and I panicked. Pushed him away without explaining why. 

Around the time I turned 16, I started going to internet chat rooms. All my relationships have been with people I met through the internet. There was something reassuring about talking to people who couldn't see me and hence judged me based only on what I said. If they didn't like that, fair enough. But I felt like if they had seen me before speaking to me, I wouldn't get a chance. By the time I turned 18, it also became obvious that sex could be used as a tool. I could make men bend to my will if I used sex. And that sort of power gave me a thrill. The act in itself always proved to be a disappointment. I got no pleasure from it till I met Sherry. Then I never got pleasure from anyone else. 

I suppose I can accept nurturing and closeness in other ways because I have some very dear friends and am extremely close to my mother-in-law. I continue to feel surprised that these people should give me the time of day. I don't actively push them away but I'm not good at reciprocating either. It may be construed as selfish by some, but to me it's quite a challenge. I feel distant and don't have the knowledge of how to respond. I don't know how to do the little things to make someone feel special. Except through sex. That I can do. 

Do you find yourself avoiding sex or going after sex you don't really want? Can you say no?

I often find myself doing both. I often don't want to have sex. When I want it, I don't like it. When I've met someone in the past whom I've been emotionally interested in, I've known that sex was inevitable and have offered it; because I knew that that will make them stay if nothing else. When they got upset, I used sex. Even now, if I want my husband to believe everything's normal, I initiate sex. And put up with the feeling of bile at the back of my throat. 

I have started to say no. Not when I first feel like saying no, but when I have resisted the urge the previous 10 times. I always want to say no or stop mid-session. Very rarely do I actually stop. 

Do you feel that your worth is primarily sexual?

I feel that it is probably the only way I can express my gratitude, show affection or make someone feel better. At this point in my life, I don't feel that I have much else to give. I like offering kind words and genuinely mean them but often feel like they won't be enough. 

Besides, it seems to solve a lot of problems. You fight with your husband, you go to bed and make love and nothing else seems to matter. That is the only thing he needs you for. Everything else, he can manage. 

Are you sexual with partners who respect you? Have you ever had partners who sexually abused you? 

My husband respects me. I think that is why this is so difficult. That I can't wholeheartedly give myself in sex makes me feel even more guilty because he's good to me. He hasn't done anything to deserve this behaviour from me.

I haven't been with anyone who sexually abused me. There have been those who made me feel bad about not wanting sex all the time but that didn't last very long. I've never been too good at saying no and very good at trying to do anything to avoid conflict. If sex was going to make them be good to me again, I gave it to them irrespective of how I was feeling. 

Starting to sound pretty needy and pathetic now. 

Have you been a prostitute or used sex in a way that had elements of exploitation?

No. And no. I haven't used sex to get something non-sexual, if I've understood the question correctly. 

Do you experience sexual pleasure? Sexual desire? Do you think pleasure is bad?

Sex has been the only constant in my life. First, I didn't know what was happening. Then I didn't like what was happening. Then I didn't care that it was happening. By this time, my body was growing up and wanted it so I started seeking it out. I felt desire, but the act made me feel disgusted and ashamed. I experienced a limited sort of pleasure only with myself until I met Sherry. Then the lack of emotional involvement on his part made me feel like sex was the only thing he wanted from me. So I distanced myself when I couldn't go on like that any more and moved half-way across the world. 

I had no intention of ever having a sexual relationship in this country. All I wanted was a two-year break and was going to go back and marry a man my parents chose. Have sex to keep him happy and make a couple of babies. 

Then I met a guy whom I slept with once. Technically, he walked through the door and the next thing I knew he was on top of me and I couldn't/didn't stop it. Never felt as empty as that. 

And then I met Darren. Instantly fell in love with him. Something fell in place inside me and made me a little bit sad because I knew it was going to have to come to sex eventually. I remember when he touched my hand for the first time, I felt an electric charge course through my body. The first time we kissed felt like a fucking soppy Hollywood film; at the bus stop, in the rain with one of legs crooked up behind me. I was terrified of inviting him into my bedroom because I knew he would want to do stuff and despite all the desire I felt, I just didn't want to do anything. 

The first few months were magical, once we had actually done it. I was swept away by just how much we enjoyed being together and the sex was good too, so long as I kept pushing the flashbacks away. I don't think I had acknowledged them as fully then so it was a lot easier to ignore them than it is now. Besides, I was convinced it was temporary. 

Throughout it all, I felt guilty. Like I was using Darren to fulfil some need inside me. I've always felt disgusted that I have sexual needs. Masturbation is an indulgence that makes me quite unhappy with myself. That sex occupies my mind so much is a constant source of disgust. I do experience pleasure, but it's never pure. I always feel guilty and selfish afterwards. 

Do you ever feel that sex is disgusting or that you're disgusting for enjoying it?

See above answer. I like the idea of sex but as an act I find it disgusting that I enjoy it. To anyone else, it should be nothing but pleasure. 

Are you turned on by violent, sadistic or incestuous fantasies?

They make me want to vomit. Anything that causes either of the people involved pain or unnecessary force irritates me and makes me sick. Fifty Shades of Grey was pathetic apart from the vanilla sex and mild bondage. Consensual sex is the only way forward and even there nothing that causes pain. 

Do you find you need to control everything about sex to feel safe?

I am more comfortable being the one in control. But I also know how to safeguard myself when I'm not. I switch off. 

Do you ever experience flashbacks to the abuse?

Go back to the beginning and start again you doofus! X( 


Do you have sex because you want to or only because your partner wants it?

Both. And 90% of the time it ends with me wishing we hadn't started. 

Have you ever been sexually abusive?

I remember when my brother was five. I was 13 and still being abused every week, if not more. By then I knew what was happening was wrong. I also knew that I has switched off and was nothing more than a warm body under amit bhaiya, for him to do with as he pleased. But that one time when my brother was five, I wondered what it was about a child that young that had put me in this hole. I remember looking at my brother with angry tears in my eyes, just wanting to inflict something on someone. I felt a rage that made me want to make someone else feel like I was feeling. 

That feeling lasted for two minutes and then I couldn't get myself to look at him again. I think my relationship with him changed then. I could never get myself to hug him again. I started treating him like a grown-up. Never treated him like a child after that. Expected him to know better when he behaved like one. Took out a lot of anger and frustration by beating the shit out of him a few times. There's nothing I regret more and I apologised to him for it a few months ago. 

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