Sexual Abuse/Trauma and Abuse’s Effects
Please notice that this is a departure from my usual upbeat posts.
However, I believe this is a piece that need writing.
Prevalence: One in every four women in Canada will experience sexual violence over their lifetime. Though violence is committed against all members of society (irrespective of class, ethnicity, or gender), the youngest and most vulnerable individuals are disproportionately targeted. Abuse is especially prevalent among handicapped women (83% ) and First Nations women (57 percent ). Over half of survivors will have been abused prior to the age of 17. Boys under the age of 15 account for 15% of all victims. And only 6% of these encounters result in a police complaint — reports are rarely brought to a guilty sentence level. (Reference)
Due to the low incidence of police reporting, the numbers available to us understate the truth. My experiences are not accounted for in any statistical analysis. Neither are the experiences of all (but one) of my pals. And the majority of my pals (cis-gender women) have been victims of sexual violence in some sort. To me, it frequently feels like a quiet plague.
Coping: Oftentimes, survivors cope with their assaults without involving the authorities or filing a report (Department of Justice). Fear of not being believed (by police, courts, or peers) can have concrete financial consequences down the road: survivors without a police file number are unable to access some victim counseling services. And with treatment sessions ranging from $50 to $240 each session, many survivors are left to reassemble their lives on their own. Due to the fact that the majority of survivors are socially connected to their abuser (eg, a friend or family member) (Department of Justice), they may confront an additional obstacle: garnering moral support from their remaining non-abusing family and friends. This is very challenging, as it is always easier to ignore the existence of something negative about someone you care about or respect. Survivors must also negotiate healing in the face of society’s biases: violent sexual assault is frequently used on television as quick, unexplored plot turns; false reporting is sensationalized as widespread, and trigger warnings are mocked and misinterpreted as censorship.
Triggers: Given the high prevalence of sexual violence and the general difficulty of obtaining support following the abuse, it’s understandable that many people develop automatic physiological reactions to certain touch, sound, images, or smells (triggers) that your brain associates with your traumatic experience. For instance, if you smell your abuser’s cologne on a stranger passing by, your brain may prepare your nervous system for fight/flight/freeze mode, despite the fact that you intellectually know this is not your abuser. This is not a reaction to being outraged or offended (though emotional distress may occur as well); rather, it is an involuntary physical/chemical reaction inside the neurological system.
This is a typical neurological response that passes through the brain. In the body, triggers are perceived. For instance, if your spouse touches you in a way that triggers memories of a previous abuser, you may see a vision of your abuser’s face and feel their touch instead. This increases your heart rate and adrenaline levels. You may feel compelled to hit, flee, or freeze. Your limbs may feel jittery at first, then become frigid as the adrenaline wears off.
Triggers can have a profound effect on survivors’ sexual life. After a trigger occurs, it may be impossible to continue sexual activity.
Before my tenth birthday, I had my first unwanted attention from older guys. By the age of 13, my world had imploded following my first encounter with abuse. Then twice more at the age of 18. Then twice at twenty.
By the time I was in my early twenties, triggers were everywhere. I was desperate to develop a relationship with my body, to claim it as mine, to discover a method to erase the singed impressions of terrible touches and transform touch into something positive.
And then, at the age of 23, I began purchasing adult sex toys (성인용품). I’d purchased a couple previously, but they saw little use. However, halfway between textbooks and the independence of my own apartment/address, as well as an understanding spouse, I resumed purchasing them. And, at the age of 24, I began this blog.
Additionally, sex toys aided me. My sexual experiences with my spouse are virtually unrecognizable two years later compared to what they were before I began abusing sex toys heavily. My lover has the ability to touch me in ways that I previously couldn’t manage.
This is what I’ve learnt about how sex toys can aid in the recovery process following sexual trauma. Please keep in mind that the emphasis here is on using sex toys alone in a safe environment, of your own free will, and without any history of toys being used against you.
ONE: YOU ARE ALWAYS IN CONTROL Using a sex toy alone, whether a vibrator or a dildo, begins and finishes with you.
Your vibrator is completely self-contained. It is incapable of acting against your wishes. It is unable of thinking for itself, manipulating you, or touching you when you are not willing.
You are in complete control.
Abuse is really about power and control. When combined with sexual touch, even consensual sex might feel powerless. That is something I first battled with. After being abused, consenting to sex, even with someone you love (and who loves you back), can be frightening, as memories and learned behaviors/habits of not having control over your body might linger.
Sex toys, on the other hand, can assist in reintroducing sexual pleasure into your life without causing concerns of control. You cannot have lingering fears that your partner may exercise control over you in ways that you do not want. It is a toy; it cannot perform any functions that you do not want it to.
Obviously, this is only the beginning. It’s an introduction to a sense of security, of pleasure combined with control, which equals to safety, and to your mind relearning how to feel comfortable in your own flesh. Your nervous system must relearn sexual touch as a safe activity. This is curative.
TWO: ALWAYS PUT YOUR BODY AND PLEASURE FIRST
Utilizing a sex toy alone is all about you, and only you.
It is not about appeasing others. It is not a matter of whether you appear to be in good health. It is not a matter of waiting for someone else to complete. It is not about what others expect of your physique. It is not about the pleasure of others, and particularly not at the expense of your liberty.
It’s entirely about you.
This is an opportunity for you to discover how your body operates at your own pace and pace, pausing as frequently as you like to take rests (breaks are good). This is where you may learn about your body, what makes it tick, and how to treat it with compassion and understanding.
Sex toys are intended to provide pleasure. The best sex gadgets fulfill this objective. And it’s critical to enjoy yourself in a comfortable environment free of intimidation or fear. It is not simple, to be sure. It’s something to work on, something to strive for.
THREE: NO HUMAN TOUCH IS PERMITTED.
This is critical. It all comes back to triggers, to how the brain and body remember painful memories, and to how those sensations can replay themselves as if they had their own mind.
I couldn’t let my lovers touch my vulva for the longest time (till 2016). Additionally, they were not permitted to touch my breasts in particular ways. If their contact had a specific amount of pressure, my PTSD assured that I felt/sensed/saw my abuser’s hands, and my body would tighten and freeze. My mind would travel to a lifelike scene in which the abuse was replaying/recurring in the present.
Human touch, regardless of its consensual nature, might cause your brain to believe you are experiencing prior trauma. This is not something you can manage emotionally or logically: it is your brain’s natural response (more precisely, your prior trauma was not time-stamped in the same manner as your regular non-traumatic memories, which causes these sensations to appear present). To understand more about that, see the Additional Reading section at the conclusion of this piece).
Years passed while I coped with this. However, not any more.
Therapy, relocation to a new region of the country, and the use of sex toys are all options. These are the three factors that have influenced my life.
When you use a sex toy, your brain is not immediately linked to human/abusive contact. You are not aware of your skin. You are aware of silicone. You have a glassy sensation. You have a plastic sensation. Your brain hasn’t connected those elements to trauma; this provides you an advantage. It provides a sliver of an opportunity to experience tactile touch in the absence of a human aspect.
This was quite beneficial to me personally. By using a vibrator on myself, I was able to avoid triggers caused by my own hands/skin that day by switching to a vibe. My boyfriend eventually utilized vibes on me as well. This was a baby step in the right direction; having his hands close to my vulva and me experiencing pleasure but NOT human touch enabled me to form new associations between his body’s proximity and the safety of consensual touch.
FOUR: A NOTE ON REALISTIC DILDOS/SLEEVES
This connects everything together, but it’s critical to note. If you’ve been traumatized by the sight/touch of genitalia, you may ultimately be ready to work with realistic toys (such as a realistic dildo or vulva/fleshlight). By employing a lifelike dildo, for example, you can gradually acclimate to the visual image without experiencing the physical experience. Sex toys, regardless of their level of realism, do not feel like genuine body parts. Working with a realistic sex toy, on the other hand, may be able to assist you in reestablishing new associations. However, if you discover them to be triggering, discontinue use immediately. I was fortunate not to find them triggering, and working with realistic objects over which I had control helped make them less intimidating.
My body is not as adept at dealing with as many triggers.