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Having a healthy sex life after sexual assault

I was raped in 1997 and during the aftermath, I felt like I was drowning. There were moments when I just wanted to disappear so the pain would stop but somehow I found the inner strength to carry on.  

There are no rules when it comes to the aftermath of rape.  People process rape in different ways. Types of healing that worked for other survivors didn’t work for me and vice versa. 

An awkward conversation sadly exists around sex after rape. In our mission to ‘protect’ rape survivors, we unknowingly retraumatise them by assuming they’re unable to have a healthy sex life after the fact. This can be the case for some survivors but not all survivors. So, we have to be careful with dangerous assumptions.

Sometimes it feels like society wants us to stay victimised forever yet finding a level of normalcy in our otherwise abnormal life situation is essential for healing.

I was 20 when I was raped and I had my whole life ahead of me. It was tragic that this event had destroyed so much already – not only for me but for my parents.  There was no way that I was going to let my perpetrator take my future (or my sex life) for that matter.

A lot of misinformation is disseminated about sex post rape and unfortunately it generally comes from people who haven’t experienced sexual assault firsthand. Speculation has it’s place amongst commentators but to the rape survivor it can feel like their genuine suffering is being appropriated.

I would like to share my own personal experience through sexual healing with the hope that it may help others. 

Below I have shared the five steps that helped me to heal in the aftermath of rape. There is a possibility that another survivor may find them useful and therapeutic.

Sex Journalling

I cannot even begin to tell you how much sex journalling helped me post assault. A sex journal is a safe space for survivors to write about their sex life. I wrote about my pain, my fears, my trauma and my sexual fantasies. I wrote about my body issues, my shame, my continual negative thoughts and my mastubating sessions. Talking about sex as a rape survivor can often be misinterpreted. A sex journal can help survivors to get comfortable with their own feelings around sexual intimacy.  It is a powerful tool that I still continue to use today. 

Masturbation and playing with sex toys

When someone has invaded your body without your consent – you spend the rest of your days trying to recover ownership. Thankfully survivors can take back proprietorship via self love.  To be honest, I’ve masturbated more post rape and I definitely feel that is related to ‘taking back control’ of my vagina. Being able to pleasure myself is an all-powerful tonic after everything I’ve endured. Other survivors have told me self-love has helped them on their journeys too.

Rapeplay

Rapeplay is a very controversial topic, one that can set the Twitter SJW’s on fire. Acclaimed UK sex blogger and journalist, Cara Sutra wrote a very educational piece on the topic.  As a rape survivor herself, Cara uses rapeplay within a consensual setting with her partner as part of self-healing.  

Rapeplay involves roleplay and exploring rape fantasies in a controlled and consensual environment. People are often shocked to learn that many rape survivors use rapeplay as part of their healing. It allows them to reenact their experience with a trusted partner which can be most empowering.  Rapeplay remains a constant in my life and it’s a subject that needs to be more widely spoken about. 

Open-mindedness

Open-mindedness plays a HUGE role in healing post trauma. There is a lot of judging of survivors who choose to take their recovery into their own hands.  

Being open-minded and non-judgemental of how other survivors choose to heal is a massive step in your own narrative. It can be hard to comprehend that some survivors become promiscuous and hypersexual in the aftermath of rape but it’s a fact and should not be judged.  I have learned so many lessons since that ill-fated day, not only about myself but about the diversity of other survivors.  There is nothing ‘uniform’ about rape and there is nothing ‘uniform’ about one’s response to it. 

Goddess baths

I could not live without my nightly goddess bath.  It’s as  much of a ritual to me as eating breakfast or setting my alarm.  So, what is a goddess bath? A goddess bath is a ritualistic bath in the name of self care.  

My goddess bath includes:

  • Candles

  • Bubble bath or Epsom salts

  • A vibrator

  • A glass of wine

  • A one-handed read

  • A hair or face mask

My nightly goddess bath is part of my self-care routine.  Seriously, who isn’t going to feel better after an orgasm, a wine and a long hot soak?  But you could include other alternatives:

  • Music

  • Meditation

  • Incense

  • A glass of champagne

Make your goddess bath your own. Scribble your name all over it.  After all, it’s all about YOU. 

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Sexual healing is a legitimate way to heal after sexual trauma. As survivors, it is our birthright to have AMAZING sex lives and there is nothing shameful about wanting to move forward in this area.

My fierce sexuality is responsible for my healing. One can make it to the other side – even although sometimes it can feel impossible.

I am living proof.