One of the things people ask me when I get into a situation where my childhood sexual abuse comes up (usually in a distant, removed, anonymous online context or with a very close friend) is if I feel that my sex life has been affected by it. Now, that’s a very complicated question. Mostly because I feel many aspects of what I’ve written here have affected my sexuality.

For instance, I’ve been on medication for my “ADHD” (mis)diagnosis that totally killed my sex drive and made me about as sensual and sexual as a York Peppermint Patty. Correction: As sensual and sexual as a York Peppermint Patty found opened on a funny smelling Boston subway bench. So there’s that. There’s also the fact that cyclothymia (my actual diagnosis) has it’s own ups and downs with sex. Sometimes I’m ravenous for it, reading porn and jumping my fiance regularly. Other times I have no interest at all and would much rather read a book. These periods can last for a month or two. Thank god the fiance is understanding.

My interest in BDSM affects my sex life. Now, before anyone gets up in arms about how a person who suffered childhood sexual abuse must be totally insane for wanting any part of BDSM, let me explain a few things to you. First off, (B)ondage (D)omination, (S)adism, and (M)asochism are a set of labels for behavior that takes place between two consenting adults. Please take a moment to erase from your mind all the depraved scenes from movies about basement sex trafficking and overhyped Law and Order: SVU episodes where the secret club turns out to be some horribly abusive sex slave ring.

No really. I’ll wait.

Is it erased now? Okay. Now picture if you will, that two consenting adults decide that it would be really sexy and turn them on if they had sex with yogurt on their foreheads. That sounds rather absurd, but I’m sure it’s a fetish someone has, so we’ll go with it. Does it bother you? More importantly, is it your place to care? If some combination of consenting adults want to glop dairy products on their heads for their own titilation, it certainly doesn’t bother me.

BDSM is essentially the same thing. It’s two consenting adults deciding on the parameters of a sexual act that will entice them and turn them on. It is not abuse, by it’s nature. Are there people who are assholes and use BDSM as  a way to degrade and hurt others? Sure. But there are also people who use regular relationships for that, by telling their girlfriend that they shouldn’t make them so angry, and then they wouldn’t end up with all those bruises.

Alternative sexual practices are just that – alternative sexual practices. They don’t cause me flashbacks and I don’t relive my childhood sexual abuse.

I’ll tell you what I do. I place trust and care in another living being to play out a fantasy with me where I can be totally safe and at their mercy – or they at mine. It’s not degrading. It’s healing. I’ll tell you how.

When I was in my very late teens, I met a girl older than me who was very into the BDSM scene. She was a self declared dominatrix, though she wasn’t professional or anything about it – she just enjoyed it with her significant other of the time. We hooked up. I found her extremely attractive, and she returned the feeling. As our relationship developed, she discovered some of my “triggers” – things that would make me wig out in a sexual context.

Bless her heart, through the gentle use of dominance, she helped me overcome them. For instance, if you’ve read my page on what happened to me as a child, you know that the Monster would come into my room and force me to masturbate while he watched. For years afterwards, I would freeze up and actually become angry and belligerant if someone asked me to touch myself in front of them. This girlfriend of mine slowly came to understand how that had happened and why I was reacting the way I did. She decided to help me. When we were intimate, she would get me very sexually aroused, nearly to the point of orgasm. Then she would lie down behind me and hold me in a perfectly comfortable (not restraining) position and close her eyes, whispering to me that I was safe, and loved, and then turning me back on with all sorts of stimulating things that a woman (or man) can say.

BDSM has been therapy for me, as strange as that may sound, and recently I talked to a friend of mine about it. I asked him, “Do you ever wonder why we go back to the places that we were hurt in our fantasies, again and again?”

He said, “Often.”

I think I know why I do it – though your mileage may vary. I think I do it to own myself again. When I explore something that arouses me despite what I’ve been through, I’m reclaiming a part of myself that the monster tried to take from me. I feel healed. I feel whole.

Now, all of this may not be how you feel. This is just my experience. But for those of you who’ve been through hell and back with childhood sexual abuse, I would urge you to look carefully at what you want from sex – and how to get it. You may want nothing like what I want, but figuring out what made me tick did a lot toward letting me reclaim my body, and my sex.

One Response to “Sexuality”

  1. WOW, I am submissive (a true natural submissive, born this way) I am also into BDSM. I have a lot of people ask me how I can want sex at all, given how severly I have been abused (tortured), the only answer I can really give is that I love sex, and I won’t let “him” take away something that actually makes ME feel good. I do have triggers, such as if someone holds my upper arms down, puts something over my face, things like that, but most Doms I have been with understand and were kind and gentle wiht me, helping me explore and be more comfortable with my sexuality. My first I met when I was 16 and he (yes I am bi-sexual too) really helped me out, he taught me how to master my pain, how to deal with a lot of the emotions I was feeling from my abuse. He was patient and loving, I will never forget him for that.

    Anyhow, I think I have rambled, so I am going to close this comment. I am SO glad you feel healed, myself, I don’t think I will ever fully heal, but talking with and reading about other survivors makes me feel less alone in the world. Thank you for writing, and writing so honestly!


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