This post was submitted anonymously. Please note, it is not related to any earlier posts on this site.
There are so many ways that sexual abuse and rape effects and robs a person. It doesn’t just happen and then it’s over. Those of us who’ve lived through it pay for it every single day of our lives, in one way or another.
Sure, we can heal and become survivors and not victims, but it doesn’t mean that we’re over the abuse. It just means that we are learning better ways to cope with the effects it has on us.
It scares me to write about this, but my hope is that if I do, others may not feel so alone in it like I do right now. I need to share one of the ways this affects me and my life.
Sexual abuse can cause a person to resort to extreme behavior. Survivors can end up living a very promiscuous lifestyle as a direct result of the abuse. They tend to look for love in all the wrong places.
That’s what I did in my twenties: I mistook sex for love. I was born into abuse so I didn’t get the love I needed from my family. Saying “no” was considered “bad”, so I never learned how. Men ruled, in all areas, and if they didn’t get what they wanted there would be hell to pay. Physically and emotionally, but not sexually. One way or another you did what you had to in order to keep “him” happy. Whoever “he” may be. I carried that message with me past childhood, leading me to be victimized further. I fell into that very promiscuous lifestyle. I’m ashamed of that. If I could go back in time and warn my younger self I would. But I can’t. None of us have that option, unfortunately.
Remember I mentioned extremes? Today my life goes in the other direction. I am married to the love of my life, yet I have absolutely no sex drive. At all. I didn’t choose this, I hate that it’s happened and I feel lost. The one person who loves me unconditionally, who doesn’t deserve to deal with this struggle of mine, is the one who has to live with my lack of sex drive. My heart hurts with the thought.
I often wonder if this is because he is the love of my life? Everyone else would use me and leave me; this one loves me and stays. That concept is foreign to me, and I wonder if my mind has trouble processing that, it screams that sex isn’t safe and love is fake. Men don’t love, they just want sex. All messages from my upbringing as past.
Unfortunately, when I do compromise and give in to sex, I’m constantly struggling with triggers, flashbacks and even dissociation. I don’t usually let him know when any of that is happening, because I don’t want to wreck the moment further for him. Knowing this is likely to happen also has played mentally into my lack of desire.
Then, there are my husband’s feelings. I know what he is going through, and I feel powerless to make it better:
- He feels guilty for desiring sex because he knows I don’t.
- When I do consent, he feels like he’s raping me because he knows I have no desire and he never wants me to feel pressured.
- It makes him feel undesirable. He wonders why I slept with all those others but have no desire to make love to him in the intimacy of marriage.
- It’s confusing for him to understand how it all works, and hurts him in different ways.
Please understand that my husband has never pressured me or made me feel like I must submit to him. He has gone out of his way to make sure I know it is OK, encouraging me to say no when I need too. The problem for me is that there isn’t a “yes” when it comes to sex. It’s all me, not him. That’s not fair to him, at all.
Yet, the word “no” has so much guilt tied into it for me. I think it’s the single most difficult word in the English language for me to use. It’s even harder when I’m saying it to the love of my life. As a result, I don’t often say it, which causes more struggles. My husband never knows if my “yes” means yes or if I really mean “no”. I want with all my heart to mean yes. I try to convince myself of that.
Can you imagine the ongoing confusion and internal battles for us both?
I’m so sad and I hope that it won’t be forever. I’m in therapy dealing with the years of sexual, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse that I lived through. Healing from that is a long drawn out process. It takes time to undo all the brainwashing, false teaching and survival methods of the past. My therapist says the lack of sexual desire is self-protection. I wish that I could let my brain know that I’m safe now, that I no longer need to protect myself. My husband is not using me, he truly loves me.
There is another word…love. Another one that is hard to understand with my past.
Still, I long for the day when I will know what it’s like to desire sex, to look forward to making love to my husband whom I love and cherish with all of my heart. I never thought this would last so many years now. I long to be able to feel his love for me. To believe it.
I don’t wish this on anyone but I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with this. I feel so very alone in this battle. Is there anyone that can relate?