After my little break over the weekend, I’m now ready to continue with my sexual healing journey. Today’s chapter is called “identifying the sexual impact”. The book identifies six areas that will typically be affected by sexual abuse.
- Attitudes about sex
- Sexual self-concept
- Automatic reactions to touch and sex
- Sexual behavior
- Intimate relationships
- Sexual functioning problems
Today’s part of the journey will be for me to identify what kinds of impact my experiences of sexual abuse have had. The book provides a checklist with common impacts for each area, which I will not reproduce here, but if you are interested, the book is only about $10 / £7, so not really expensive to get. Instead of reproducing the whole list, I’ll list only the items that apply to me, personally, and add my own.
So the big question of this chapter is “What kind of impact has the sexual abuse had on me?” Here are my answers.
1. How sexual abuse has impacted my attitudes about sex:
- I feel like sex is a form of punishment.
- Sex feels dirty and degrading to me.
- I think sexual desire makes people act unpredictably.
- I feel like sex is something I have to endure until it’s over.
- I feel like sex is something to pleasure men.
- In my mind sex and sexual abuse are the same thing.
- I feel like sex is aggressive and hurtful.
- I feel like sex gets dangerous if I don’t comply.
- I feel like sex is a way for one person to dominate another.
- Sex feels humiliating.
2. How sexual abuse has impacted my sexual self-concept:
- I feel like I am an easy sexual target.
- I feel like sex is the one thing I can be of use for.
- I feel like my sexuality is disgusting.
- I hate my body’s sexual responses.
- I feel like I want sex for all the wrong reasons.
- I feel like I don’t have the right to deny my body to anyone who wants it.
- I feel like I am still a girl, sexual development wise.
- I feel like I am either inviting abuse, or have no sense of being sexual at all.
- I feel like if I want sex, I want abuse, and am as sick as an abuser.
- I feel like I deserve whatever I get during sex.
- I feel like I’m inferior to people because of my sexual history.
- I feel like I am damaged goods.
- I feel like I am really disgusting for having done certain sexual things.
3. How sexual abuse has impacted my automatic reactions to touch and sex:
- I normally have little interest in being sexual.
- I sometimes seek out inappropriate sexual possibilities.
- I am bothered by sexual thoughts I can’t control.
- I get sexually aroused by thoughts of sexual violence and abuse.
- I have a sexual response in situations where I shouldn’t.
- I easily misunderstand touch to mean that somebody wants sex.
- I have flashbacks of sexual abuse during sex.
- I feel emotionally distant during sex.
- I experience negative feelings (shame, disgust with myself, anger, hate…) when I’m done having sex.
- I experience physical pain after having sex.
4. How sexual abuse has impacted my sexual behavior:
- I am unable to say no to sex.
- There are no limits to what I would do during sex.
- I feel confused about how and when to be sexual.
- I manipulate others into having sex with me.
- I don’t care whether sexual partners are involved with someone else, if they are in the right place at the right time.
- I had more sexual partners than was good for me to have.
- I feel confused about what is appropriate and what is inappropriate touch within the family.
- I often can’t stop myself from engaging in sexually suggestive or explicit sexual behavior within the family.
5. How sexual abuse has impacted my intimate relationships:
- I have no interest in proper intimate relationships and have never had one.
- I engage in casual sex that I invite myself, because I’m afraid of letting someone else determine time and place, knowing I am unable to say no.
- I want nothing to do with people I have had sex with, because I find them disgusting for having had sex with me.
- I feel like anyone who wants to have sex with me is a despicable person and a pedophile, because I still think of myself as a little girl and because I definitely look and behave an underage person, too.
6. How sexual abuse has impacted my sexual functioning:
- My sexual behavior aims at relieving tension, not at achieving pleasure.
- I don’t find sex pleasurable.
- I don’t find sexual arousal pleasurable.
- I don’t find orgasms pleasurable.
- I do not like to touch myself, sexually or for reasons of hygiene.
- I experience pain with sex.
Okay, so what have I learned from that, and how do I feel?
First of, I find it quite shocking to see so fucking many items on each list! I mean I knew I was messed up, but seeing the mass of items is really depressing. It’s not like any of the items would be real news to me, but still… seeing them all written down in plain words, so many of them, that’s different than just kind of knowing they are there and then quickly looking elsewhere. 😦
And how I feel . . . well, really embarrassed. Some items make me sound like a really sick person. I am afraid that everyone will think “whoa, she’s fucked up, who would think/feel/behave that way?! She must be one really dirty slut!”
But at the same time there is this stubborn part of me that says “Shut the fuck up! It’s not me who chose this, it’s what happens when people get abused, so I won’t sugarcoat it only to look better, because it’s not me who ought to feel guilty, but any asshole who assaults innocent kids or would consider me an appropriate sexual partner!” I mean really, I try to be respectful of everyone, but when I think back at the people who I’ve had sex with, there’s not a single one I feel even one shred of respect for. Anyone who looks at me and thinks I’d make for an appropriate fuck, despite the fact that I look like a teenager and that my sexual behavior is way inappropriate, especially those who actually carry through with it, THOSE should be the ones feeling guilty and embarrassed!
So I resist the urge to delete this whole post and remind myself that I haven’t chosen any of this. I have not chosen any of those behaviors! They are the impacts of shit other people did with me! I don’t feel good about any of them! In fact, I do what I can to avoid anything sexual altogether, because it’s so threatening and fucked up for me! But the impacts are there and I really, really want to get rid of them.
The next chapter is called “deciding to reclaim our sexuality”, and I look forward to that. I very much wish to reclaim it!
Thank you for reading, and I’m sorry if this was a hard or depressing or fucked up read.
Missed the past episodes of the journey? Here they are:
A project for 2013
The Sexual Healing Journey Begins, Chapter 1
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 2
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 1
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 2
The Sexual Healing Journey, Chapter 3, Part 3
MALTZ, Wendy (2012): The Sexual Healing Journey. A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse; Third Edition; Harper Collins. New York.