Masturbation, sexual trauma and intrusions

Divine

Learning
Hi guys, I've got C Ptsd and primarily my intrusions come within sexual spaces because I've suffered lots of sexual/ relational abuse. Has anyone found a sucessful way with dealing with these to reduce them/ help them go away quicker? I find when I'm dating someone its easier as I can focus on *them* in fantasies otherwise my intrusions will place my attacker in my fantasies despite me having spent years trying to recover from the abuse and not finding him attractive/ desire-able any more. I've tried visualising protective force fields around myself but it doesn't help.

Any ideas/ tips?
 

Friday

Moderator
Has anyone found a sucessful way with dealing with these to reduce them/ help them go away quicker?
Exposure therapy is what I use on any/all my triggers & stressors that get in the way of my life. Didn’t know it was called that, at the time, it was just what we did in my job to stay active/employable/reliable. Come to find? It’s not only a Tier 1 treatment for trauma, but all the reinventing the wheel shit we were doing was totally unnecessary. You can read more about Exposure Therapy here (as well as in threads around the forum), and I wrote about one of my triggers & how I went about that, below. Just one trigger out of thousands. That particular one took me about 6 months? From a trauma that was fairly low on my list of how much it effected ME, but was pretty during high in how much effect it had on my LIFE.

One thing that tends to surprise people, when chipping away at triggers and stressors, is how LITTLE what one does has anything at all to do with the actual trigger, and how much it centers around tiny flickers of reaction, and being sooooooo booooooooored. Exposure therapy is NOT climbing a cliff to get over a fear of heights. Even rubbing your fingers with chalk dust for climbers on your way to get ice cream isn’t anywhere near the beginning.

It might seem insane that to work on an oral sex trigger that I’d walk around whilst eating, but doing so gave me a bit of a wobbly feeling, so? I kept doing it until wobbles went away. Same, once I could talk with my mouth full? I changed WHAT I put in my mouth before I started talking. Someone’s penis? Nope! Ice. Mouthwash. Talking whilst underwater in the swimming pool, etc. ANY weird feeling, in any situation totally unrelated to oral sex? Happened first. Until there was noooooooo weird feeling at all. And I really am talking wobbles and weirdness, not even in the same world as spiking heart rates, skin drenched with sweat, adrenaline pounding, beginning of a panic attack. A shiver across my Skin? Too much. Back up.


This is just what I did, surrounding my own issues, just making shit up on the fly. Essentially every time something bothered me, or triggered me? I'd do it more, on purpose, to trigger myself into nudging the boundary further away/ increase what I could do without wigging out. Kept playing with it, and poking at it, as things came up.

Physically - Oral Sex

Gave my mouth a helluva lot of sensory experiences
- Talking with my mouth full, or around ice, or under water
- Singing ditto (mouth full, or around ice, or underwater)
- Eating while walking (That was unexpectedly difficult. When I found that out I refused to eat sitting down for a few weeks, and started carrying lolly-pops and sunflower seeds to really trip my brain out!)
- Playing with my tongue (from flipping it upside down, to spinning spaghetti, to counting my teeth, to clicking).
- Playing with my face (blowing my cheeks out, sucking them in, Elvis lips, etc.)
- Different food textures
- etc.

Gagging
- Trained my throat to swallow thick liquids, to pills, to whole grapes, etc. (I actually researched how drug-mules train themselves to swallow balloons).
- Brushed my teeth & tongue with a washcloth (ironically, works better than a brush).
- Used Chloraseptic (mild topical anesthetic) when necessary.
- etc.

Breath Control
- Swimmers tricks ((One of the primary rules of swimming is that if you can talk? You can breathe. I've actually always used this with panic attacks... But they also came in handy when dealing with my oral sex hangups.)) From gargling to "gulping fishes" (that mixed air & water choking feeling), to snorkeling, to rebreathers. Anything that creates the need to breathe weird, on purpose.
- Singing.
- Whistling
- etc.

(Lastly) Once I was completely copasetic with all the non-sexual aspects of oral anything and everything I could think of... I went on a fellatio mission.
- Researched everything I could about it (lmao, before Internet! That was an adventure)
- Talked to a bunch of people (guys mostly, gay guys even better).
- Took lessons / Practiced with friends
- Learned to breathe through my nose (that was a lightbulb moment! Shazaam. LOL)
- Learned to flip a condom around in my mouth / how to put one on
- etc.
 
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Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
Protective force fields never worked for me either. In fact, it felt like the protective field or armor just confined the terrors closer to me. One of those "Let's not try that again" moments.

I have had some success (still working on it) of building up safe fantasies. The most vulnerable parts of me were afraid of even being physically close to someone, so the first fantasy was imagining the person I trusted most (a former therapist), in a place I trusted most (a particular therapist's office). In the fantasy, that vulnerable part didn't even talk to the person--I imagined she was quietly working on her laptop. Then, maybe the most important part of the fantasy was reminding myself over and over that nothing bad happened. It's kind of like exposure therapy, but it happens in my mind, and it started with very small baby steps. I did a lot of work in that intimate but non-sexual direction before switching over to sexual fantasies with an imaginary girlfriend.

On another post I read on the site long ago, someone posted about choosing a place for sexual intimacy that was very different than the places associated with trauma. She was able to be sexually relaxed when she and her boyfriend went camping.
 

Divine

Learning
Thank you for sharing guys. I think yes including a safe context and 'partner' in my fantasies may help. I just don't like the idea of fantasing over people who wouldn't be into it! Haha.
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
I just don't like the idea of fantasing over people who wouldn't be into it! Haha.
I worked hard with my therapist on this point, so I better understood what I deserved and what is normal. It helped a lot talking about it because my sense of what was appropriate or normal wasn't very reliable. Having my therapist's validation helped me relax about the fantasies.

It's also okay to fantasize about someone who is imaginary, and then that fear isn't a problem.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I have had some success (still working on it) of building up safe fantasies.
I had to do this too. And I had to also practice stopping when the abuse fantasies came up. I’ve developed a safe fantasy of my therapist and it’s similar to yours where she is just validating that I’m okay. I haven’t been able to switch to real people yet. I’m kind of worried that I’ve used this safe fantasy for too long and now it’s ingrained, but another part of me believes I will grow. I haven’t really been facing the sexual stuff for a while. It did bother me a lot that she was the only safe person I could muster but we did talk about it and she helped me understand that it’s fine because she IS safe and I’m not acting out. And the fantasy of her is not even the same as her physical person. This is a very difficult topic for me.
reminding myself over and over that nothing bad happened.
I was only able to start doing this recently and it’s helpful. My tendency is to get angry at myself, especially after, and I tell myself repeatedly, “Don’t get mad.” It’s still hard sometimes not to.
my sense of what was appropriate or normal wasn't very reliable.
This is where I’m at right now. I chip away at it in small amounts. It’s kind of shocking to my sense of self-trust when I share something I did that I’m completely ashamed of and T says it’s not even wrong. I don’t like the feeling because I’m so sure it is wrong. It takes a while to integrate that.
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
@OliveJewel , our paths sound very similar!

And I had to also practice stopping when the abuse fantasies came up.
I had forgotten about this aspect! Yes, I do the same thing. A therapist explained to me that when we do any kind of reenactment, we're exercising that part of our brain--kind of reinforcing old memories. If that stuff comes up in our mind, it's good to stay calm, not judge ourselves, but try to let it just pass by, and find something else that is positive.

I’m kind of worried that I’ve used this safe fantasy for too long and now it’s ingrained, but another part of me believes I will grow.
I find that having these safe fantasies is useful for me even though I am able to have a real-life relationship with my wife. The fantasies help me calm down and have a better relationship with my wife, so I don't think they get in the way of real life.

It did bother me a lot that she was the only safe person I could muster but we did talk about it and she helped me understand that it’s fine because she IS safe and I’m not acting out.
My therapist says that transference like this can be very healing and appropriate, as long as I am open and honest with her about them. In my case, though, I have little parts that so crave an intimate mother that my therapists become mommy figures. But absolutely, they are the image of safety in my head.
 
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