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As I shared in my last post, many sexual abuse survivors rely on negative fantasies in order to achieve an orgasm during sex. These fantasies generally continue the dynamic of the sexual abuse. Some people reenact the abuse in their heads while having sex. Others fantasize about situations that create the same feelings of helplessness and being a victim, even if the scenario is not a reenactment. Regardless of how the fantasies play out, they are not healthy.

Many sexual abuse survivors despise their negative fantasies, but they also fear giving them up because, without them, they will have no ability to achieve an orgasm during sex. While letting go of negative fantasies is scary, it is a positive step toward healing from the sexual abuse.

My experience has been that I cannot take a negative experience and make it a positive one overnight. Instead, I have to stop investing negative energy into the experience and move toward a more neutral view. As the experience stops being so painful, I free myself to start building more positive associations with that experience.

This was my experience with sex after sexual abuse. No matter how many times church members told me that sex was a deep spiritual connection with my spouse, I could not make the “marriage bed” be anything other than a place where I continued to abuse myself through negative fantasies to please my husband during sex. I had to stop expecting sex to be anything other than a physical act. When I chose to reframe my view of sex in this manner, I stop pouring so much negative energy into the experience as each encounter fell so far off the mark of what sex was supposed to be.

I also chose to give up the negative fantasies, even if it meant that I never had an orgasm again. I found that I could not do it cold turkey, so I did it in stages. I flat refused to reenact any abuse in my head. However, I would use other fantasies that were gradually less and less unhealthy until I was able to achieve an orgasm without having to abuse myself in my head to do it.

This took a long time to accomplish, and I am still not completely healed in this area. However, my views on sex are gradually changing, and I no longer dread each encounter as I once did.

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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In my blog entry entitled Do Sexually Abused Children Enjoy Orgasms from Rape or Sexual Abuse?, a reader posted the following comment:

As I was abused as a child I never reached orgasm……. quite the opposite……..pain. However there were the occasional times when I felt a brief “good” feeling. Either way, I CANNOT reach orgasm without having what I call “negative fantasies”. I hate it. I have only shared with a handful of people as I find that most won’t admit to this by product of child sexual abuse. In treatment, with counselors and inpatient, it was alluded at that this thinking made you the same as the molester. The internet has allowed these things to come to light without labeling the abused. Thank you to everyone who shared. ~ Tawny

I am appalled that a mental health professional would imply that using negative fantasies to achieve an orgasm during sex has anything to do with being a molester. Using negative fantasies is about harming yourself, and being an abuser is about harming others. Using negative fantasies during sex makes you no more of an abuser than self-injury, eating disorders, or other negative compulsions do.

It makes sense that somebody who suffered from sexual abuse would use negative fantasies to achieve an orgasm during sex. Anyone in a long-term relationship, and certainly a marriage, is going to engage in sex as part of that relationship. If each and every encounter results in no orgasm, it begins to erode the relationship. However, by using negative fantasies, the sexual abuse survivor is finally able to achieve an orgasm, which helps the partner know that the problem is not a lack of attraction for him or her.

The problem with negative fantasies is that they continue the pattern of abuse. The sexual abuse survivor continues the abuse where the abusers left off. So, even though the sexual abuse survivor might succeed in achieving an orgasm by using negative fantasies, the aftermath of the orgasm is emotional pain, shame, and emptiness.

What many people who were never sexually abused do not understand is that an orgasm does not always feel good. Those who have been blessed to have a healthy sexual life experience a release of stress and a general feeling of well-being after having an orgasm. This is not true for sexual abuse survivors who are using negative fantasies to achieve orgasms. They are left feeling empty.

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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