Orgasms and Shame during abuse.

42 days of Teresa – day 10

** Warning ** Some of this content is graphic. It may have trigger issues for some. Please read this only if you are in a good place emotionally.

Opening up about my childhood sexual abuse has been a long and healing journey.  Once I got to the point when I didn’t find myself retraumatized when I recounted more raw or graphic details, I felt so free. Free to explore what that next level would look like.  My next level of sharing and pushing the conversations further.  The one topic that has always been commented on the most was the issue of orgasms during abuse or rape.  It was one of the hardest personal revelations that happened for me as I took the time to recount so many memories.  I was strangely surprised when it occurred to me that this had been what I was experiencing all those years ago at such a young age.  It was also apparent that this issue wasn’t commonly discussed even during therapy or online.

What was obvious is, during sexual acts, even those that are against your will, the body will respond the way it’s naturally meant to.  How do victims mention this aspect of their abuse if their intention is to report it and be taken seriously?  It’s bad enough that the legal system is not supportive or willing to hold these predators properly accountable for their crimes but society is quick to turn their back on the victims too.  How can you describe the horror of your abuse if, at the same time, you endured pleasure at the same time?  The shame and guilt that gets tangled in the emotions only adds to the trauma.

I distinctly remember trying to prevent my body from responding.  I was so young and had no words for what was happening to me.  It felt good but I was embarrassed and my dad would either laugh at me or ask me what was wrong.  The more I tried to prevent it, the longer the session of abuse would last.  He always said he wanted to make sure I was happy. I actually managed to disassociate from what was happening.  I could just check out and wait for it to be over.  Thinking back on it now, I recognize that this was the beginning of that high wall I built around my heart.  I systematically shut down so I didn’t have to feel all the emotions of what had happened to me.  It took so, so long for me to be able to break down that wall.

It took a long time to be able to relax and believe that a healthy relationship was what I could be in.  Friends were not made easily as I never felt safe to share anything real about me.  I wan’t interested in sex since I didn’t trust that any guy I’d let near me wouldn’t hurt me or humiliate me.  I could be friendly and social but not intimate.  I just shut right down.  I would panic and leave the situation at the first opportunity.  It took a long time, with a boyfriend that I later married, to allow myself to be intimate and enjoy it. I was so lost because my reflex was to disassociate and just wait for it to be over.  Then I’d feel guilty about that!  It wasn’t easy.  Many years later, I was able to have sex and relax and stay present and share that experience with my partner.  Orgasms during my many years of being abused by my father had to be separated from my experiences in the present day.  To get to a point where there were no flashbacks and emotional backlash took many years.

I’ve been able to overcome it but only through sharing and allowing this process to simply be.  I had to stop judging myself and forgive myself when I didn’t respond the way I wanted to when I was having sex.  I wanted to be “good”.  Mostly I wanted to be happy. I’m able to say that I am.