Seeking Help After Trauma
Understanding Trauma & Violence

Pregunta

I experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA) when I was 11. Since then, I've been struggling with what I believe to be masochistic tendencies, craving the same kind of abuse I experienced. I understand that my sexual development was disrupted by the abuse, leading me to associate sex with control, submission, and prioritizing the other person's pleasure over my own, even if it involves my discomfort or pain. I feel like the abuser's desires have been imposed on me, even though I don't genuinely want those things. I'm ashamed and tired of these feelings, and I need help coping and managing them. I've found some relief by watching shows that depict the reality of abuse, but it's still challenging. How can I better cope with these feelings and understand that what I experienced was abuse, not sex?

Respuesta

Wow. This is so tough. I want to start by commending you for your bravery in reaching out and sharing your story with us. What you experienced was not your fault, and your feelings and struggles are valid. It's essential to understand that your response to the trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal and deeply harmful situation. Thank you for trusting us with this. 

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) can have a profound impact on a person's sexual development, as you've recognized. It's not uncommon for survivors to experience confusion, shame, and even a desire to relive the abuse. This is not a reflection of your character or desires but rather a result of the complex trauma you endured.

It's crucial to remember that what you experienced was abuse, not sex. The abuser manipulated and took advantage of you, prioritizing their own desires and disregarding your well-being. Your feelings of discomfort, pain, and submission were not a natural part of a healthy sexual experience but a consequence of the abuse.

Healing from sexual trauma is a journey, and it's essential to be patient and compassionate with yourself. Seeking professional help from a therapist who specializes in working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse can be incredibly beneficial. They can provide a safe space for you to process your emotions, develop coping strategies, recogize healthy and unhealthy behavioral patterns, and work towards healing.

In addition to therapy, there are other ways to cope with the intrusive thoughts and feelings related to your abuse. Engaging in self-care activities, such as practicing mindfulness, journaling, or participating in hobbies you enjoy, can help you reconnect with your body and mind in a positive way. You can also begin to explore your body and sexuality on your own, to teach yourself what safe touch looks and feels like without a partner. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family members who validate your experiences and feelings can also be helpful to model what respectful, loving relationships look like. 

Feel free to read another answer to this question, where a survivor asks about how they can move past feeling "obsessed" with accessing sexual assault content. This feels different, but seems related to your question. You are not alone in these struggles. 

It's important to remember that healing is not a linear process, and there may be ups and downs along the way. Healing takes time. Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge the progress you've made, no matter how small it may seem. And remember, your safety and wellbeing is your number one priority.

Remember that there are resources available to support you. Consider reaching out to organizations like RAINN, ChildHelp, or a local sexual assault support center for additional support and more personalized guidance.

Remember, you are strong, resilient, and worthy of love and respect. Your experiences do not define you, and you have the power to reclaim your story and heal on your own terms. Thank you so much for trusting us with this. 

Salida de seguridad

Recursos