3 years ago, I was in an abusive relationship where I was consistently assaulted and manipulated.
This was someone I trusted and someone who told me he loved me.
When I finally got out of that situation, I was left with very low self esteem and a warped idea of what sex is and what it should be. After essentially being used as a sex object for so long, I started to see sex as the only way to keep someone interested. In a very lonely time in my life, I had a lot of sex that I wasn’t even really into because I thought if I didn’t, no guy would ever want to spend any time with me. This lead to making unsafe choices like meeting strangers alone at their home and agreeing to unprotected sex with strangers. This went on for a long time. I was at a point where I didn’t even enjoy having sex anymore. It became a chore.
I had started to become pretty certain that sex would feel like this forever. With time and therapy, I did eventually see that I should never feel like I have to have sex with someone when I’m not in the mood, just so they’ll spend time with me. As positive as that breakthrough was, sex was and is still hard in a lot of ways. It took a long time to really become aware of what had happened to me and how much it really did affect me. I was numb for a long time. Sex can be very triggering, even with a wonderful partner.
The first time my now husband and I had sex, in the middle of it all I had a flashback to being assaulted. One minute I was having a great time, the next I was telling him he needed to get off of me right away. I have never felt more respected in the bedroom or in general by anyone more than I have by my husband, but sex continues to be hard sometimes. With a great partner and a lot of therapy, that has gotten better and will continue to get better. Sex is no longer a chore, in fact I’ve fallen in love with sex again. But sometimes it’s hard for me to get in the mood. Sometimes just one wrong movement or wrong sound in the moment is enough to cause a panic attack.
One thing that has helped a lot is very open and honest communication with my husband.
It seems like a no brainer but sometimes it can be hard to voice what was triggering because it’s a seemingly very small thing. While there’s no way to really know what might trigger me in the moment, he knows to avoid certain movements and certain sounds. That has been huge. My husband also sometimes comes to therapy with me just to listen in and learn.
This is something that I will probably spend most of my life working on, and it’s not fair. It shouldn’t have to be like that. But, I’m doing what I can with the card I’ve been dealt, and I think I’m doing a good job. My relationship with sex is not perfect, but it’s so much better than it was before.
For right now, that’s enough.