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Relationships with others

Lots of people who have experienced sexual violence have been hurt by someone they loved and cared about, like a partner or a parent. This can sometimes make it harder to trust others.

One survivor of sexual violence wrote this about her experiences:

Intimacy

"How many times have I cried about sex? Cried because we’ve not had sex in 4 months and 27 days (yes, I’m counting), which means it’s only a matter of days until my boyfriend leaves me forever because women are sex machines and if men don’t get sex when they want it then they’ll just up and leave. How many times have I spent 45 minutes psyching myself up to get under the sheets, turn off the lights, not think about the rolls I have on my tummy and instigate sex? How many times have a felt like my body and mind are not enough for my partner and just being present and intimate is beautiful?

Why do I believe that having sex and satisfying my partner's sexual needs is the most important thing in his life? It does not matter that I support him emotionally, I care for him, feed him, laugh at his terrible jokes, hold him while he sleeps. It does not matter that I remember he likes to sleep closest to the door, that he never unrolls his socks before he washes them, that he doesn’t know the difference between a fiddle and a violin.

It makes me feel so sad that there’s this voice inside my head that can convince me that, despite everything he loves about me, he obviously wants to leave because we don’t have ‘enough’ sex. He is kind and understanding and my life would be incomplete without him. He never complains when I scream and cry and wipe my bogies on his shirt (which I know he hates but tolerates anyway). When I leave my hair in the shower and the drain gets blocked he does not complain.

My mind is torn. Riddled with guilt. Why do I not want to have sex every single night in lingerie and 5-inch heels? With 7,000 dildos? Why can I not satisfy my man like every other woman does every single day? Because surely im the only person who feels like this.

It’s difficult to balance life. I try everyday to tell myself ‘I was sexually and emotionally abused by a man I thought I loved and that’s ok. This does not affect me. I am strong. I am over this. He will not longer control my life like he did when I was a child.’ But when I tell myself this every day: 'It's been 10 years, I’ve been through counselling, I’ve dealt with all of this,' then I begin to put a lot of pressure on myself. Pressure to be fixed and to be better. And then if I don’t want to have sex, well then I’ve failed again. Those feelings of arousal are shame and fear to me. Even though I am looking into the eyes and lying in the arms of a man who is 1,000 times the man my abuser will ever be, I cannot push him out of my head. Finding the balance between living my life and not letting the man who abused me define me, but also forgiving myself for moments of weakness and vulnerability, is the hardest thing to balance in my life. There are aspects of this I have grown and flourished in, but there are aspects that appear to fail completely."

survivor's artwork

Illustration credit: a survivor who got support from the Rosey Project

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