Content Warning: Sexual Violence
Photo Credit: Amanda Charchian
Survivors of sexual violence can experience several feelings after their lived trauma. It is common to feel like you are no longer in tune with your body after sexual violence. It is common to feel like you have lost connection with your body. It is common to feel triggered by your own body. It is common to fear human touch, including sexual human touch after sexual violence.
Not every survivor will feel any or all of these feelings. There is no right or wrong way to recovery after sexual violence. However, self-intimacy can be a powerful form of reclaiming your body after sexual violence. It can be an extremely valid and empowering form of coping.
As I stated earlier, self-touch or human touch can be wildly triggering for some survivors. Please listen to your triggers. Do not try to ignore them. Self-intimacy may not be appropriate for every survivor for weeks, months, years, or ever.
As a Certified Sexual Assault Advocate, I know that panic surrounding sex after sexual violence is completely normal. I also know that hyper sexuality after sexual violence is completely normal. Some survivors immediately turn to sexual activity after sexual trauma to cope. This is valid. It may be turned to as a way to reclaim their bodies, to normalise their trauma, or to validate themselves.
Sex is not just an activity to experience with other individuals. Sex is an experience you can have with yourself. It is an opportunity to reclaim your body with your full consent. Emotional intimacy is extremely important in the healing process. It is an act of self-love and self-care.
If you do feel that you are in a place where you are ready to explore your body after sexual violence, safety plan your experience. Remember that you have complete control. You can stop at any time. Create a safe space for yourself. Take a bath, turn the lights on or off, turn on soft music, blast loud and powerful music. Do whatever you believe will help you to feel safe and bursting with self-consent.
Statistically, survivors of sexual violence go on to lead normal and healthy sex lives. Experiencing sexual violence, does not mean you will never experience pleasurable sex again. Take time to explore yourself on your terms, and in your comfort zone. Empower yourself to relearn what your body feels like, what it does and does not like. The liberation of your body is absolutely possible after sexual trauma, and you can experience it all on your own.
Remember, you OWN you. Your body is yours. It belongs to nobody, but you. Allow yourself to reclaim your body. Be gentle with yourself, and remember that it is okay to take steps to learn how to love your body again after sexual violence.