Sexual trauma can show up in a wide array of ways. A traumatic response is your body and mind's adaptive reaction to something that shouldn't have happened. At some point in time, your body chose to protect itself in the best way it knew how.
The scenarios below are not the only ways that trauma can appear - and, please note that it is completely possible that women who have *not* experienced sexual trauma may relate to some of these scenarios.
The following is hopefully meant to shed light onto a phenomenon that you may otherwise feel alone in experiencing. You are not alone - and, sex doesn't always have to be this way.
1. The Switch
The moment's just right. Your body is responding, your mind is racing with all of the excitement and exhilaration and general turned-on-ness. You're ready to remove your clothes, hold your partner, hold them close.
You stiffen up - or maybe you hyperventilate. Suddenly, the moment feels unsafe, out of your control. The switch may have been linked to a specific thing (a scent, a position, a word, a sound)...or maybe nothing discernible at all. But what you know - what your body knows - is that you're done. Moving forward isn't an option. You need to stop, now.
2. Hot to Cold
In the beginning of the relationship, all is well. Sex is fun, enjoyable; no hiccups at all! (Well, except for the one time in Barbados - but that water was salty!) You initiate often without issues. You may even feel insatiable.
Then somewhere into marriage - year one, two, three... - you start to feel differently. Your desire reduces from five times a week to maybe one time in a month. Your partner's requests seem to dig into you, and you can't tell why it bothers you so much. You find yourself dodging their advances, avoiding any potentially sexual scenario. Even though you trust and care about your partner, your interest in sex is minimal.
3. Automatic Zone
Sex is something to chase, pursue, conquer. You love the feeling of it - but you often check your emotions at the door. You get a bit uncomfortable if your partner asks you to slow down, make eye contact, attend to their needs. You may be able to connect before or after the experience, but sex itself is recreational. A fun time. No need to complicate it.
4. No Way
Something about sex grosses you out. It seems dirty, wrong, inappropriate, unnecessary. You can't rectify anything good about it. This may lead to you deterring sexual advances, withdrawing from any potential sexual relationship, or simply shutting yourself down while your partner engages sexually with you. Either way, you have no interest in what is happening.
Some of this resonates...
When we are hurt sexually, it is truly a deep wound. That experience was not someone else's to take. Your body, your Self, did not belong to anyone else - regardless of if they were previously trusted, if they were an authority figure, if they were a friend, a family member, a stranger....
If you have absorbed any guilt or blame within yourself, my hope and prayer is that you'd perhaps consider what it would be like to release yourself. Consider if you'd be interested in releasing the shame, guilt, harmful beliefs, and experiencing what life is like without it.
This process takes time and careful attention. It's not something we can sort through over a one-directional blog post, because your story is so unique. It matters. And how it affects you is definitely much more complex than any of the four scenarios I've written here.
Therapy can be a space for that conversation, if you'd like. Being able to talk with someone who has walked alongside others into different versions of living can begin to break the pattern of pain you've been stuck in. It is for this reason that I see the therapeutic space as being so sacred. And, if you're ready... let's see what a healthier, freer version of your intimate life could look like.
Schedule your session here. The first step simply involves an in-person meeting and you being able to ask specific questions about how therapy could be helpful for you.