How do I get used to certain "sensual" acts after trauma?

N

Nyoom

This is going to be kinda a mix between a question and a discussion, question will be at the end. And to mods, I have tried to find the rules for the forums to no avail, so if this violates any guidelines I apologise, I've tried to make sure it doesn't go into too much detail or anything.

So, when I was 6, I experienced a pretty textbook case of COCSA. It continued until I was 7, though I don't know exactly how long it went on as the longer it continued the more desensitised to it I became so the memories become fuzzy, as opposed to the clear memories of the first month or so. It was traumatising, especially since I was going through a lot of other situations at the time (Father had multiple life threatening illnesses leading me to have to literally save his life on 2 separate occasions, my mother was mentally ill and would threaten to abandon us, divorce our dad, yelled and screamed, said she'd kill herself, etc etc). Later on, I experienced smaller things, like potentially more COCSA at 9 (not sure if I'd count a boy a bit younger than me who consistently pressured me into kissing with tongues and then threatened to kill me and then himself by stabbing me and slitting my throat with a dirty broken bottle he found, but regardless of the label it was pretty scary and disturbing to me). An older man had tried to make me and my 9 year old sister dance for him in our swimsuits, which made both of us highly uncomfortable even though we couldn't explain why. Someone tried to kidnap me while abroad when I was around 10 or 11, I was sexually harassed by peers for a year after what happened when I was 6 got out somehow, someone tried to groom me when I was 15, etc etc.

This has left me with quite a bit of baggage surrounding relationships, and sex. I have been working through this, and after being put on medication for my anxiety and depression, I have been able to make real strides in my recovery all around, including s3x. I'm in an extremely loving relationship, and have been for 2 years. My boyfriend has been extremely kind and patient with me, and has been guiding me to understand my sexual emotions more (as I became sexually repressed to the point I thought I was asexual during my teens), helping me feel more comfortable with certain acts, and not pressuring me into anything. He's given me true motivation to recover, and we're finally seeing that start to pay off. However, while I'm getting used to touching and being touched, I just can't bare the idea of penetration of any kind. It's frustrating, as I really want to take it to the next level. I keep thinking I'm ready, but panic when it actually comes around to doing it and I need to back off.

Most of the COCSA I experienced was oral penetration, and as far as I am aware, I was never penetrated anally or vaginally. Granted, I have entire periods of time blacked out of my memory, and traumas me and my sister shared that she can remember but I can't, so if something like that did happen, it's not impossible I just repressed it to hell. But, thinking like that is how one can accidentally form false memories, so I tend not to think to deeply about it and as far as I'm concerned, nothing like that happened. When I think of me preforming oral on a man, I panic. I get flashbacks, and start sweating, heart beats faster, sometimes hyperventilate, the whole shabang. Sometimes it seems appealing for a bit, but then I start remembering how it felt when I was a child and I panic, and/or want to throw up. With anal, I'm more used to that. I'm less scared of it, actually. It's just the pain and the fact I have digestive issues that holds me back from that, which is really annoying because its the one type of penetration I feel I could bare. But vaginal, I just tense up and get terrified. I don't get flashbacks or anything, but I become extremely fearful. This has been lessening overtime, but not fast enough for my liking. I want to be able to live my life freely and do what I want, but my body won't let me. For reference, I can't even put a petite tampon up there, as I tighten up and it becomes painful and uncomfortable. I know I have vaginismus, but knowing does not help with dealing with it. I've been trying some methods, like self pleasuring, but I don't really get any enjoyment out of that. One thing that I have noticed, is that I feel safer doing it when I have more control.

Me and my boyfriend are into a bit of light BDSM, nothing too extreme. We are both switches, and alternate between who doms and subs. We are both gentle doms, always checking to see if the other are enjoying themselves and we have a system of body language to indicate certain emotions and desires, as well as ways to say to stop it all completely. We have equal control, it's more of a roleplay thing. When I am the dom, I feel much safer doing stuff close to penetration, and I feel very happy doing the things I'm doing. Not that I don't enjoy things when I am the sub, but certain acts don't make me feel comfortable while subbing, but I am completely fine with when domming. So, one thing I have figured is that I probably need to dom more often, since usually I'm the sub. But the other issue stands. I literally ban barely take my own pinkie. He, both luckily and unluckily for me, is pretty big. Like, that thing is a heckin chonker, a real big boy, a real Hungarian sausage. And I not only struggle with vaginismus, but also, I am shmol. I am 5'1, healthy weight for someone my height. My bondage gear barely fits me. People often mistake me for a 14 year old, even a 12 year old. So, uh... Not only do I need help relaxing enough to actually get my vagina to cooperate with my left brain and not my right brain, but I need help stretching it out. Doing so by myself would feel safer for me. I don't know how to relax the muscles in my body to control it, and furthermore, a lot of my anxiety surrounding this is because I associate sexual activity of all kinds with my trauma, even if some activity didn't even happen to me, at least to an extent. I'd like to know if anyone is having similar issues, and if they had them in the past and have now recovered from them, how'd you do it?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sideways

Moderator
Mod Note:
I have tried to find the rules for the forums to no avail, so if this violates any guidelines I apologise, I've tried to make sure it doesn't go into too much detail or anything.
I removed the trigger warning - we don't use them here. This is a place folks go precisely to discuss their trauma (often in detail) and basically every thread would need a trigger warning.

You can check out the rules in the Community Constitution, but your post is absolutely fine:)
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Welcome to the forum. There are lots of us on here who are survivors of sexual violence in childhood or adulthood and how that impacts sex. For me, I'm dealing with crying after sex.

Sounds like it's the fear that needs worked through? What is making you fearful in the here and now?
This is something my T and I have worked on (fear), in terms of her helping me realise I have power and control now. Didn't then. But do now. And the only thing that exists is the here and now. Are there grounding things that can help you with that? Slightly different and off topic, but I've recently been triggered when exercising (T says it's the pressure on my body that is similar to the trauma). So I now write my worries down in a note book before exercising, which gets them out of my head and away in a book that I can come back to later. And I write 'power' on my arm to remind me I have it now. This helps me. So maybe finding ways to learn that you are you now, with all the autonomy you need. And if you are domming, you have your own autonomy and the consent of automny of another. So in a very powerful position.
 

prynne

MyPTSD Pro
I'd like to know if anyone is having similar issues, and if they had them in the past and have now recovered from them, how'd you do it?
I've experienced CSA and I also have difficulties with sex. I think most of us do, on whichever end of the spectrum, unfortunately. My issue isn't physical, but it's also an anxiety issue. I'm usually okay during the actual act, but the build-up to sex and the come-down afterward tend to make me incredibly anxious and often send me into a flashback. Some things that have helped me: making the environment/room as safe and relaxing as possible (clean, not messy, door locked, no one else home, a candle), doing a guided meditation, using grounding techniques (reminding myself that this is my partner. I'm in my current location. I'm not back there. He's doesn't want to hurt me. He's not one of the ones that hurt me), breathing techniques, keeping my eyes open most of the time (harder for me to slip into a flashback if I can see what's actually around me), and making myself feel as attractive and appreciated as possible (getting clean right before, wearing something that makes me feel attractive and maybe powerful, receiving praise and affection from my partner).

I also need a gradual cooldown from sex, not an immediate ending to pleasure or intimacy. I need my partner to still be close by and affectionate. Often I will keep touching myself for a few minutes after sex (or my partner will touch me), gradually lowering the intensity of pleasure until I know that it won't be a shock to my system if it stops. It's harder for me to feel anxious if I'm feeling physical pleasure. During the act, I can't go a long time without my partner touching me or me touching myself. I freak out because it reminds me of the abuse, of someone using me for their own pleasure without caring how I feel.
However, while I'm getting used to touching and being touched, I just can't bare the idea of penetration of any kind. It's frustrating, as I really want to take it to the next level. I keep thinking I'm ready, but panic when it actually comes around to doing it and I need to back off.
But vaginal, I just tense up and get terrified. I don't get flashbacks or anything, but I become extremely fearful. This has been lessening overtime, but not fast enough for my liking. I want to be able to live my life freely and do what I want, but my body won't let me.
It sounds like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be ready for penetrative sex and that may be adding to your anxiety. Sex is going to make you even more anxious if you're obsessing over not being able to do this thing that you're wanting to do. Thoughts like, "Am I going to be able to finally do it this time?" or "Why can't I do this?" or "My body won't let me do what I want to do" are going to make everything worse. This may be one of those rare cases where it might actually help to set the problem aside for a while or not think about it as much. It may help to focus more on what you can do with your partner sexually, and then when you aren't as stressed out about the problem, it may be easier to have penetrative sex because your anxiety isn't as high.

Also, if any of the pressure/desire you're feeling to have penetrative sex is because you think it's what's "normal" and the only thing that counts as "real sex", I would say don't get too hung up on that. The more I learn about other people's sex lives, the more it seems like PIV sex isn't the star of the show that everyone thinks it is.
Not only do I need help relaxing enough to actually get my vagina to cooperate with my left brain
I don't know how to relax the muscles in my body to control it, and furthermore, a lot of my anxiety surrounding this is because I associate sexual activity of all kinds with my trauma
I've heard that biofeedback therapy can help people learn how to intentionally relax parts of their bodies if it would be possible for you to access that.
When I am the dom, I feel much safer doing stuff close to penetration, and I feel very happy doing the things I'm doing
I've heard this from many people who have experienced CSA. I would say that you're on the right track in thinking that domming would make penetration easier for you.
 
N

Nyoom

Welcome to the forum. There are lots of us on here who are survivors of sexual violence in childhood or adulthood and how that impacts sex. For me, I'm dealing with crying after sex.

Sounds like it's the fear that needs worked through? What is making you fearful in the here and now?
This is something my T and I have worked on (fear), in terms of her helping me realise I have power and control now. Didn't then. But do now. And the only thing that exists is the here and now. Are there grounding things that can help you with that? Slightly different and off topic, but I've recently been triggered when exercising (T says it's the pressure on my body that is similar to the trauma). So I now write my worries down in a note book before exercising, which gets them out of my head and away in a book that I can come back to later. And I write 'power' on my arm to remind me I have it now. This helps me. So maybe finding ways to learn that you are you now, with all the autonomy you need. And if you are domming, you have your own autonomy and the consent of automny of another. So in a very powerful position.
Thank you for your reply :) I think the idea of writing out my worries in a diary might be useful, so I intend to try that out. It is definitely fear in relation to fear, of both physical pain, as well as trauma related reasons, so finding ways to get my fears out and work on that might be useful. Thank you very much for your perspective and advice, and I hope you're doing well :)

Mod Note:

I removed the trigger warning - we don't use them here. This is a place folks go precisely to discuss their trauma (often in detail) and basically every thread would need a trigger warning.

You can check out the rules in the Community Constitution, but your post is absolutely fine:)
Thank you for linking the community constitution, and thanks for letting me know TWs aren't necessary :)

I've experienced CSA and I also have difficulties with sex. I think most of us do, on whichever end of the spectrum, unfortunately. My issue isn't physical, but it's also an anxiety issue. I'm usually okay during the actual act, but the build-up to sex and the come-down afterward tend to make me incredibly anxious and often send me into a flashback. Some things that have helped me: making the environment/room as safe and relaxing as possible (clean, not messy, door locked, no one else home, a candle), doing a guided meditation, using grounding techniques (reminding myself that this is my partner. I'm in my current location. I'm not back there. He's doesn't want to hurt me. He's not one of the ones that hurt me), breathing techniques, keeping my eyes open most of the time (harder for me to slip into a flashback if I can see what's actually around me), and making myself feel as attractive and appreciated as possible (getting clean right before, wearing something that makes me feel attractive and maybe powerful, receiving praise and affection from my partner).

I also need a gradual cooldown from sex, not an immediate ending to pleasure or intimacy. I need my partner to still be close by and affectionate. Often I will keep touching myself for a few minutes after sex (or my partner will touch me), gradually lowering the intensity of pleasure until I know that it won't be a shock to my system if it stops. It's harder for me to feel anxious if I'm feeling physical pleasure. During the act, I can't go a long time without my partner touching me or me touching myself. I freak out because it reminds me of the abuse, of someone using me for their own pleasure without caring how I feel.


It sounds like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be ready for penetrative sex and that may be adding to your anxiety. Sex is going to make you even more anxious if you're obsessing over not being able to do this thing that you're wanting to do. Thoughts like, "Am I going to be able to finally do it this time?" or "Why can't I do this?" or "My body won't let me do what I want to do" are going to make everything worse. This may be one of those rare cases where it might actually help to set the problem aside for a while or not think about it as much. It may help to focus more on what you can do with your partner sexually, and then when you aren't as stressed out about the problem, it may be easier to have penetrative sex because your anxiety isn't as high.

Also, if any of the pressure/desire you're feeling to have penetrative sex is because you think it's what's "normal" and the only thing that counts as "real sex", I would say don't get too hung up on that. The more I learn about other people's sex lives, the more it seems like PIV sex isn't the star of the show that everyone thinks it is.


I've heard that biofeedback therapy can help people learn how to intentionally relax parts of their bodies if it would be possible for you to access that.

I've heard this from many people who have experienced CSA. I would say that you're on the right track in thinking that domming would make penetration easier for you.
Thank you so much for the empathetic and detailed response, a lot of what you described here resonated with me, and I will definitely be looking into the biofeedback therapy to see if there's anything like that in my area or online options. I've been working on trying not to put much pressure on myself to engage in stuff I don't want to do, but I've always feared that I'll upset him or he'll hate me and/or abandon me if I don't progress fast enough (which I guess is related to the CSA as well as other traumas in my life). I definitely relate to the comfort of how a partner making sure you're enjoying yourself helps with coping with sex. A bit off topic, but it's why I like to sub as well as dom, it feels extremely intimate to be at a physical disadvantage and not have full physical control, while knowing your partner will not hurt you and will still ask for consent and make sure you're happy with what you're doing together. It's extremely powerful and generally makes me feel more safe with him. Before I started engaging in BDSM myself I never really understood why abuse survivors would want to be in that position, but since learning more and doing it myself, my god is it therapeutic. A lot of what my abuser did to me was to humiliate me and gain his own pleasure, not taking no as an answer and threatening me if I expressed discomfort and/or resistance, so to have essentially the opposite from my partner, constantly making sure I'm comfortable, asking consent to do different acts, asking if it feels good, etc, when he could easily disregard my own pleasure, wants and desires while I'm bound, is an amazing emotion. It's kinda sad on one hand that I find it so comforting to essentially not be violated, but it is what it is.
But yeah, back to the topic at hand, I've written down some of the advice you and others in this thread have provided and I am fully intending on utilising them. Thank you again for your kind and informative response, and I hope you're doing well :)
 
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