February 15th 2018 will be the 13 year anniversary of the date I escaped the intensely abusive relationship that broke me. The asshole was verbally, emotionally, and sexually abusive. He took my virginity my force, and due to outside circumstances and a history of abuse prior to him, I stayed with him for a year.
I reached the point where I gave up saying no. I just… gave up. My best friend at the time said I was no longer me, I was just a shell. I was suicidal and didn’t think I’d make it to my next birthday. Said best friend gave me a big kick and I got myself out.
13 years on and February is still a hard month. I still have emotional scars and intimacy issues so bad that I did a huge happy dance when I found a Romance novella I could read without having a panic attack. I will never be ‘normal’.
I’ve had 13 years to heal, and this is what I say to those who’ve been through what I have. Those who’re fighting with themselves, and perhaps those around them. Those who’re healing from the trauma of sexual abuse/rape.
Give yourself time.
Don’t brush aside the level of trauma you suffered. Don’t tell yourself it was nothing and that you’re weak. Don’t tell yourself that you’re over it a month later. I did those things, and I suffered so much more for it.
It is going to take time to recover, and there is nothing wrong with that! It does not mean you’re weak, or worthless, or inferior. It means that you went through something horrific, it means you had someone violate your body, and just like you can’t recover from multiple broken bones overnight, you can’t recover from this overnight either.
It was not your fault.
You did not deserve this. You didn’t fail in some way, you aren’t being punished for your sins, a weak, pathetic man did this to you. It is entirely his fault. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Don’t bottle it up.
I bottled it up. Hell, it took me five years to even admit to myself that I was raped! I blocked out every sexual encounter besides the one where I gave up saying no. I still can’t remember them, and I’m better off that way. But do not bottle your experience and your emotions up! When I did that I ended up becoming insanely aggressive around the topic of sex, I could barely acknowledge it was a thing that happened. Then I finally started to acknowledge that yes, I had been raped three times a week for a year.
Once I’d acknowledged that I could work through that trauma. For me, that started with writing erotica. It sounds absurd, but it worked for me. At first the writing was difficult, but slowly over time it got easier and it really helped. I could get down scenarios of how sex was supposed to work. I could focus on the little things I needed to focus on in that moment, whether that was relaxing under someone’s touch, or being in control of the situation. It was a place to vent and explore sex in a completely safe setting.
How you get it out is going to be entirely down to you. Maybe you’ll get it out through dance, or singing, or screaming at the dawn, or drawing, or just talking to someone you trust. Don’t feel like you have to share whatever you do. If you need to write a private journal, or keep your drawings to yourself, do so. The key is having a completely safe space where you can relax and work through this at your own pace. Remember, it takes time. Don’t rush this. Don’t beat yourself up because you’ve been doing it for 6 months and you still panic when someone tries to go to third base with you. That is fine! There is nothing wrong with that!
When you’re ready, explain everything to your partner.
Talk to them. Explain in excruciating detail your boundaries and how they can help you. Don’t be ashamed. If your limits are hugging in your underwear, then tell them so. Do not allow them to push you. Keep control, and don’t do anything until you’re ready. If you start to tense or worry, stop.
Remember that you do not owe anyone anything. You do not owe your other half or anyone else sex or sexual pleasure. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
There are going to be bad days, and that’s ok.
That’s normal. Take the day to do what you need to do. If that’s colouring and watching Netflix, then do it. It is not the end of the world, even if it feels like it in that moment. Take a breath, get the emotion out, and do what’s best for you.
Remember that you’re loved, and you’re not alone.
You’re not alone on this journey. You’re going to be ok, there are people out there who care about you, even on the dark days when you feel like you’re floating in an abyss of black ink. I promise you, you’re not alone, and you are loved.