Sexual Assault Extreme fear after consensual intimacy, anyone else?

Samantha_38

Confident
After intercourse/intimacy with my significant other of almost 14 years, I lay awake feel fearful, frozen, almost unable to move.

Does this happen to anyone else? Any suggestions for how to help it?

It's only been recently that I've been able to identify that this is what is happening. I lived in a dissociated/emotionally numb world with a lot of self harm, all of which I've been working on. Previously I would self harm after intercourse and move on, but now I'm working hard not to. Now I lay there awake, terrified, hearing my significant other breath as he sleeps and me just feeling froze.
 

internal

Sponsor
the only thing that helps me with this cycle is to not engage with it.

i try not to have sex unless i know i'm in a place where it will have a posetive impact instead of a negetive one. which means if i'm in the place where afterward. all i'm doing is wanting to hurt my self or spiraling out about nonsense. i shouldn't be having sex to begin with.

but more than that, the most importent thing, i shouldn't be allowing my spouse to act as an instrument that i use to hurt my self. because that isn't conducive to any thing and it harms him. that rule is not always successful because my brain is garbage.

and some times i get triggered and start shit just because i suck. my spouse is usually pretty good at identifying that that is happening and telling me to mess off. but not all the time. but also sometimes he just wants to or i want to and blah blah.

humans are humans. we can't all be f*cking civilized all the time. so things slip through the cracks. but generally speaking it's served us both well that both of us should, ideally, be mentelly in the place to emotionally deal with what is going on-

since there obviously is an emotionel part of it (or there wouldn't be a problem. we'd just be hooking up! it wouldn't matter.) and not just thinking with our dicks. and if it's getting to the point that sex is this chore that you're like putting your self through for a benefit other than your own-

or that you want to be doing it but you can't get over all of these feelings afterward-those are the times that i find it least useful to be having active sex. because it's not helping anything. it's just continuing the cycle. as for actually dealing with those things, outside of having sex, that is generally more complicated.

and it depends on what is going on. for me i tend to get very specific reactions of specific things. that is that i am being caused to react a certain way based on what is actually happening around me and not because of some vague undefined f*cking thing.

it used to be that way and it just used to be this big fog of misery that i tried to slash at (often literally, at my self) to try and clear it away. and that wasn't successful. i had to really come to grip with the fact that i need to think about the specifics.

the things that were actually happening to me. that i was doing. that had happened. and the ways in which all of that coalesced. and that work sucks. a lot. but it probably is the only thing that will make some of this easier for you.

which i don't know which category you are in. obviously the specific is easier to deal with. so i just go and i think about it for a while until i sort it out. and then i feel more able to go back and try again. if that isn't posseble for you you may need to do more work to make it more defined.

in terms of what is actually triggering you to feel this way, physically. if it's always like this. if there are moments where it isn't like this. what all of those different intersections of things have in common with one another. if it's the just "idea" of sex or the mythology of sex in general.

anyway all of those words to say i don't have any specific solutions for you because i don't actually know your specific problems with sex, other than that you have this vague Problem afterward. and it may be because it is that vague to you which is the problem, it's vague. and it needs to be made clearer.

or that you do actually know in which case those are the things you should be figuring out. in this sense a therepist who is trained to deal with sexual abuse victims might be of benefit to you if you are not already seeing some one.

and of course this is just what works for me. every human being is different!
 

Sideways

Moderator
I may have this wrong, but am I right remembering you're currently doing prolonged exposure therapy? Can you bring this to your T's attention that this is something you'd like to work on?

Noticing that it's happening? Is a big deal. Because like you said, it's something you've done for a really long time and not noticed.

Noticing is important because it finally gives us an opportunity to change things. Maybe simplifying things for a while, scaling back to more basic intimacy that does feel safe...?

I personally haven't figured out how to have sex without dissociating. If I had a partner, I'd probably prioritise that as something to work on. Because absolutely things that our brains interpret as unsafe, we can teach our brains are safe. That's a process that trauma therapists can usually help with really effectively.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
I have lots of negative emotions after intimacy. Not fear I think- it might be there because I do experience flashback/ intrusive thoughts during intimacy usually which would suggest I’m triggers and feeling fear? But I don’t’feel’ fear - but frustration, intense sadness - sometimes closer to devastation, And definitely the numbness.

how I deal with it. Hmm. Not as well as I’d like but with humour when I can. My partner is also really aware of my feelings and is really conscientious to make sure during intimacy I’m not disassociating ( he feels that’s non consensual and wants no part in it if I’m not there in all ways) and talks with me ( usually what I want) afterwards.
 

Friday

Moderator
Does this happen to anyone else? Any suggestions for how to help it?
Being triggered? Certainly.


The exact trigger you’re experiencing? No. Sex is actually one of my coping mechanisms (amongst other things), rather than one of my triggers

Previously I would self harm after intercourse and move on, but now I'm working hard not to.
Ditto… Chnaging coping mechanisms usually leads to a WHOOMPH of symptoms I usually handle -no fuss, no muss- but am now left to sort out “from the drawing board”. One of the most useful things to me is sorting the aspects my NEW coping mechanisms are not hitting, whilst old ones did.

Self harm? Is complicated. Only you would know which aspects of self harm are NOT being met by your new coping mechanisms (assuming you DO have new coping mechanisms???) after sex.
Noticing that it's happening? Is a big deal. Because like you said, it's something you've done for a really long time and not noticed.
Very much, this.
 

Samantha_38

Confident
I may have this wrong, but am I right remembering you're currently doing prolonged exposure therapy?
Correct, yes. And somewhat working on this. I have a list of trauma. A very long list... different perpetrators, different situations, different types of abuse. Ultimately all stemming from abusive/neglectful parenting, but still different. Unfortunately that makes PE of one event not transfer as well to others, and I'm slow working through events. Alas, it took me 3 years to trust T enough to even do PE, so slow is apparently how I roll.
sometimes closer to devastation,
Yes! This! Thank you for that word. Almost like death, fear, abandonment, loneliness, emptiness, all in one.
Being triggered?
Sort of...So sex is triggering yes. I dissociate a lot during. Unfortunately I struggle to speak up during this and he doesn't notice as much as he use to. I don't communicate my past well to him. Its another area T wants to work on with me, but there's so much to work on.
assuming you DO have new coping mechanisms???
Meh...kind of. Know a few, yes. Able to grab them spontaneously as needed, not usually, with cueing then sometimes. Do they work as well short term as self harm, not even close. Also continuing to work on.
 

RNrecovery

Learning
I have had a bout of this lately. I don’t have great suggestions on how to get through. I’ve been talking to my wife a lot. Asking for help from my therapist. I’m trying not to avoid sex because that makes it worse but I’m also don’t push myself too hard.
 

oakleaves

Confident
If he doesn't notice you are dissociating when you have sex and then you carry on anyway isn't that quite retraumatising? Forgive me if I have got that wrong. I am sorry it is so difficult. I hope you can find a way through
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Noticing that it's happening? Is a big deal. Because like you said, it's something you've done for a really long time and not noticed.

well said. And I hadn’t realized how my system is all primed to “not notice” and so noticing (food intake for example) is stressing the system and causing consequences (such as losing motivation for routine cleaning and plant care—not sure why the plants are being targeted but I think it’s anger displacement)

weird how just noticing sends pushback to flee/dissociate/self-harm. (Maybe because noticing was dangerous and maybe another reason to work on my narrative of not being in danger currently—this is triggering me to shut down mentally right now just thinking about the process of noticing.)

I personally haven't figured out how to have sex without dissociating.

Same. And it feels so far away in terms of important-stuff-probably-worth-facing-at-some-point that I’m not even looking at it. I mean, currently I’m focusing on how to not block my emotions in session so that’s probably connected but we can’t look at that other all. At all.
 
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