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Archive for December 18th, 2008

One my most popular blog entries is one entitled Orgasm during Rape or Other Form of Sexual Abuse. In the comments, Palucci posted the following:

I woke up this morning. I realized something else about myself that I never questioned before. I am 39 years old and married for 10 years and I have never had an orgasm while having normal, traditional sex. The first time I had an orgasm during consensual sex it was oral. And that night I had the nightmare about being raped when I was a kid. Last night I was depressed, because recently it has also come to my attention that I use sex like I use cutting and burning. At the time it meets a need, but then I feel worse, remorseful. My husband has recently quit drinking and he will not participate in rough or degrading type sexual acts. Last night he would not follow me in that direction and kept it traditional so no orgasm and I still felt remorseful and ashamed of my behavior.

What Palucci describes is a very common problem for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. As children, orgasms and abuse intertwine, and then achieving an orgasm as an adult in a consensual sexual relationship becomes a challenge.

To overcome this challenge, many sexual abuse survivors reenact the abuse in order to achieve an orgasm. They might engage in similar sexual acts, such as being tied up as they are having sex. While there is nothing wrong with two consenting adults engaging in a bondage sexual scenario, more than that is going on for the sexual abuse survivor. The sexual abuse survivor is actually reabusing herself in order to achieve an orgasm. As Palucci points out, instead of feeling good after the orgasm, the sexual abuse survivor is left feeling empty and remorseful.

Another way that sexual abuse survivors reabuse themselves to achieve an orgasm is by fantasizing about an abusive scenario during sex. For example, a survivor of ritual abuse or gang rapes might fantasize that a crowd of people are watching as she has consensual sex. While, outwardly, there is nothing “abusive” about the consensual sex, the sexual abuse survivor is projecting herself back into an abusive situation in order to achieve an orgasm. Once again, instead of the orgasm feeling good, the sexual abuse survivor experiences deep levels of self-loathing after the orgasm.

Unfortunately, when many sexual abuse survivors give up the fantasies or reabusing sexual acts, they also lose the ability to achieve an orgasm. This doubly frustrates the sexual abuse survivor, and then every sexual encounter produces pain and shame.

My next several blog entries will talk about this issue in more detail. I don’t claim to have all of the answers because I am still working on healing this in myself, but I can share what I have learned so far.

Good Resource for Healing from Sexual Abuse:

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse (Revised Edition)

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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