As part of the blog stats we are given, I see search terms used to find my blog and one has touched me – a person searching for advice specifically about sexual abuse. This blog is therefore about sexual abuse – being sexually abused and having sex after that.

 

I need to start by saying that part of the abuse I suffered smacked of sexual abuse (in that it had to do with that part of my body, and also power, control and domination) BUT it was not sexual abuse as defined by law. We know the law is limited, but I do need survivors to know that what I deal with in my history could be different to yours.

 

I would recommend survivors search out a professional to help them with this, as there may be a lot of simple things that will immediately help and there’s also the book ‘The Courage to Heal’ by Ellen Bass and Laura Davies, which may as well be the bible for survivors of sexual abuse.

 

I am not a sex therapist and it is with great care that I put fingers to keyboard on this matter. However, I’ve talked with many survivors of sexual abuse and I’ve had to wade through my own history too, and this is the sort of thing I say.

 

The Icky Stuff

Yes – the ickyness of it. You’ll know what I mean. It could be same gender stuff, incest, orgasms, the acts themselves, being able to remember their fingers / mouth or whatever.

 

I want survivors to start with a screwed-up face, to show how we feel about that icky stuff – to show the dissent, the non-consent, the disgust.

 

I’ve written a chapter about shame and blame in my book, which applies fully here – shame, like a rugby ball, gets passed to us and we just pass it straight on.

 

Think about it – you feel icky about what was forced upon you and you are right to feel it – you are the one in the right, you didn’t want it or choose it, you were too young to know what was what, you did what you had to do to get through and you know with every fibre of your being that it was wrong.

 

Don’t fear the ick factor – it means that the shame and wrongness don’t belong to us. This is a massive message in healing from sexual abuse – ALL of the wrongness goes to the abuser. Whenever you think about it, can you think about that?

 

If you can sit with the icky, dirty feeling of the memories and know deep down that they belong to someone else and that you’d never choose that in a million zillion years, that’s a great start.

 

Is all sex now bad, forever?

Separating sex from abuse for a while, let me use the recent police analogy of tea and consent (‘Tea and Consent’ is available on youtube.) It’s really about sexual consent between adults, but I am twisting it slightly – let’s say that people drink tea and you’d like to drink tea, but your introduction to tea drinking years ago was wrong and icky, and now you don’t know how to or whether it’s OK to enjoy a normal cup of tea. Do you hate tea itself or abuse involving tea?

 

It’s a very important point, because sex itself is not wrong, but the way it was when it was child abuse WAS wrong.

 

For now, could it be that sex is like tea? Normal, natural, pleasurable and being enjoyed every day in a million ways by people right across the world? So far so good, right?

 

But when tea is manipulated upon us in a bad way, it becomes not good. When it is violently forced down our necks and we might choke, it is not good. When it leaves us feeling gross and sickened, it is not good. But the tea itself is not to blame. Take the abuse away and we are simply left with tea; a nice hot, normal, everyday cup of tea, just the same as everyone else.

 

I think if one’s sexual life has been started off on the wrong foot by a child abuser, we could do a few things –
*  Consider that we might like to overturn that. Just consider it.
*  Start to think about what we might like to do to move forward from it.
*  Start to consider the idea of building up positive experiences – so many of them in fact, that our opening experiences of tea fade away and are forever replaced.
*  Start thinking about how we don’t want to give away our whole adult sex life to a child abuser who should be in prison with his or her sick way of being.
*  Work through the ick factor and learn to shove it off, shove it out and away, and develop a normal relationship with tea drinking.
*  Start thinking of ourselves as good, normal, clean, nothing wrong.
*  Start exploring sex by ourselves and with others if we want to.

 

Same sex and pleasure

 

This is a huge one for people, especially heterosexual men. What if we got turned on or liked it? If the abuser was the same sex as us and we got turned on, does that mean we are gay? Just one of the ways abuse keeps on giving.

 

Except for this –
*  Your first experiences may have been same sex due to the choice of the abuser, not you. You were too young and didn’t know anything about sex. If you are straight, shove it off back to them.
*  It doesn’t mean you are gay if your body liked the taste of tea – the WAY it got turned on to tea was the problem. Tea is good. Having it forced on you is what is bad, not the tea itself. Tea is good. No wonder you liked parts of it. We all do. Sort out what was twisted and give away what is not yours.
*  Maybe that thing they did with the tea is something you were going to discover you liked when you were older, but they got there first and now they’ve stopped you from learning you liked it in your own time. Say, oral sex. Shall it remain spoilt for life then? Or shall we reclaim it? Shall we say ‘I LOVE it when you stroke me just there’ while thinking ‘I like this because I like it, NOT because you did it to me first. You were disgusting to do it to me. I was always going to like it when I became an adult.’ Claim what you like for YOU, not as a result of child abuse.
*  Whether the mainstream accepts it or not, sexuality IS a continuum (meaning, if you got right down to it, most people are here or there or a bit over here, or like this or that – we all like our tea a different way). You may be mostly hetero. You may be gay. If you are, it would have been nice for you to have been able to discover that on your own. You may be entirely hetero and same sex abuse may be a massive part of your healing. You may feel that you will never know, because your journey has been interrupted and started off by someone else. But once the ick factor is out of the way, figure it out if you can bear to. Figure out that you like a certain act and who you like it being done by – that’s the flavour of the tea. You can like the same flavour of tea as was forced upon you, even while you don’t like the forcing and who did it. Don’t let a child abuser rob you of that beautiful flavour of tea.
*  Lips on your bits feel nice. Fingers and hands touching, stuff going on, all of it is natural and normal. If your body responded, it did not betray you – the abuser did, by twisting such a normal thing. Your body responded normally. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with tea and there is nothing wrong with sex.
*  It is not fair that your enjoyment of tea is ruined by someone forcing you to drink tea how they want you to, for their enjoyment and not yours. This is why it was abusive.
*  Consider your current relationship with tea. Do you have one? Are things missing from it? Is it blocked up in any way? Would you like to experiment? Are you ready to?

 

Healthy sex 

My healing premise is that adults don’t deserve to suffer because of a child abuser and every time it rises up, we deserve to strive to not hurt.

 

Given that orgasms are nice, they are relaxing, they are energising, they promote intimacy, people are having them all over the world every day and so on, I would really want survivors to see how they might carve out a sex life for themselves despite abuse. Yes we have these early bad memories, but we also have a blank sheet of paper in front of us – what shall we write on it?

 

Morning sex
Quickie sex
Weekend away sex
Rainy afternoon sex
Up against the wall sex
Look no hands sex
Oral only sex
Every day sex
Loving sex
Multiple orgasms sex
Any way we like sex

 

The middle bit

 

Sexual abuse is often the most horrible of the things done to us, not always but very commonly. It can take many years to come to grips with it, if at all, and there are plenty of survivors out there who don’t want to touch the subject. My experience was just that at first, but as more and more got laid to rest, I finally had to turn my attention to that part of what happened to me. I couldn’t talk about it, but I began to be able to think about it. There are steps forward and backwards. Allow for this. But remember – you don’t deserve to hurt, nor to lose out on a sex life.

 

Even contemplating this matter may deeply upset survivors. Anger has a massive place in the healing of the sexual abuse itself – don’t avoid it, do find a way to express it without hurting anyone else, express it properly and cleanly and know that it is your right to be furious and disgusted beyond words with the adult who forced you into their crimes. Anger and disgust are part of the early journey, but only part of it and only early. See these positive messages? Can you buy into them? Can you see yourself getting over the ick factor and reclaiming yet another part of what was stolen from you?

 

You are not wrong. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not tainted – the abuser is. You deserve a normal life just like everyone else. When you can bear to, get into this subject over a few years and have a think about how you’d like to take your tea.

 

*

This topic is perhaps one of the toughest we will face as survivors. If reading about it has upset you, find some comfort somehow. Go outside and walk it off, or run a bath and hole up indoors, put something nice on the TV. Remember that none of it was your fault whatsoever. You are brave to face this, and you are doing the right thing thinking about it. Seriously consider what sort of help you might be able to get, with the aim of getting it off your chest for good. You searched this out for a reason – you don’t have to labour under this stuff forever as it is not your burden to carry.