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Reclaiming Myself after Child Sex Abuse

Reclaiming Myself after Child Sex Abuse

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Publicado porsos-sa
This book was written with female survivors of child sexual assault/abuse (CSA) therefore we have used the feminine pronoun throughout this text when speaking about CSA survivors. That is not to
say that much of the work covered in this book would not be useful and appropriate to males as well.
We believe all survivors will find benefit in working through this book, but males will have to alter the feminine pronoun as they read. There may be additional issues that male survivors need to face and deal with and these would not be covered in this resource. We have spoken about the perpetrator
of the CSA as ‘he’ because in most cases the offending perpetrator was a male. That is not to say
that women do not perpetrate sexual abuse, or that males are not the victims of child sexual abuse/ assault.
This book was written with female survivors of child sexual assault/abuse (CSA) therefore we have used the feminine pronoun throughout this text when speaking about CSA survivors. That is not to
say that much of the work covered in this book would not be useful and appropriate to males as well.
We believe all survivors will find benefit in working through this book, but males will have to alter the feminine pronoun as they read. There may be additional issues that male survivors need to face and deal with and these would not be covered in this resource. We have spoken about the perpetrator
of the CSA as ‘he’ because in most cases the offending perpetrator was a male. That is not to say
that women do not perpetrate sexual abuse, or that males are not the victims of child sexual abuse/ assault.

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Published by: sos-sa on Aug 12, 2008
Direitos Autorais:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/08/2013

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The topic of sexual activity created diverse responses in the group. There are those who are confused

about sex. Even though we know the human body is ‘wired up to enjoy sex’, the shame and guilt we feel

during sex can stop it from being pleasurable. Some women have never had an orgasm when having sex.

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Others find themselves addicted to sex. Others struggle to stay present during sex. Many of us disassociate

from our bodies during sex because it unleashes memories of childhood. Some of us examine our

past during sexual activity as if we are trying to discover some missing or stolen aspect of our self. As

we regain confidence in our sexual selves we are also reclaiming our sexual identity as women.

We looked at the social expectations in our culture concerning sexual activity. For example a sexually

available young woman is considered a ‘slut’, a ‘whore’, a ‘skank’, but a sexually available young

man is considered a ‘lad’, or a ‘stud’. Women are expected to be in control of their bodies and the

boundaries around them, but men are somehow absolved from controlling their urges for sex. This

message is played and replayed time and again in the media. As female children who were sexualised

early, we were considered to be sex objects and fantasy toys to satisfy the perpetrators. This blurred

the boundaries between love, trust, intimacy and sexual activity. We believed we had to do what was

asked of us to get love. To get what we wanted we had to perform sexually, which led some of us to

become promiscuous. Touching and intimacy became related to abuse in our minds. As children we

were powerless to control our body believing we were the possessions of men, and this belief has

made us vulnerable to ongoing abusive sexual relationships in adult life.

Tip

Every woman has the right to say NO to being touched or having sex. Every person has the

responsibility to exercise control over their body. You do not have to hand over your body to

any person unless it is your choice. The key to your future happiness is developing certainty

about your boundaries and exercising control over your choices.

Some women have reclaimed control over their body by viewing themselves as a whole person with

a body, mind and spirit. All relational activities nurture the whole person in some way. So having sex

is more than a mechanical body activity. When we have sex, it can also be a physical, emotional and

spiritual activity. We can have body sex, but if we are not engaged at an emotional level and there is

no connectedness, it is less likely to be a nurturing or life-giving experience. It will not nourish your

emotions that give expression to your spirit, instead sex is a mechanical exercise. In the context of

a loving relationship where two people are giving their whole selves to each other, sex can improve

each partner’s sense of personhood and connectedness as a couple. It is then that sex becomes

nurturing and fulfilling, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and sustains us as individuals and

couples. Orgasm is not essential for that fulfilment to happen. To experience this intimacy we need

to trust our partners and this may be difficult. We know it sounds a bit like ‘Mills and Boon’ sex,

because it has not been our experience. The CSA and ongoing sexual abuse has led us to believe the

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lie that sex is purely physical and it does not affect our mind and spirit. In this way the perpetrators

can believe they are not harming us as a person. We know that is not true. So we are beginning to

see that while whole person sex is not a common experience for most of us, we hope the opportunity

for life-enhancing sexual experience may be possible in the future.

At this time in our healing journey some of us are prioritising spiritual connection and emotional

nurturing in a trusting relationship as the main drivers for sex. Some are choosing to prioritise

relational experiences over body pleasures such as orgasm. We are not yet at the point where our

body is relaxed enough to completely relax within a sexual experience without worry and tension.

We recognise the physical activity of sex is available to us anywhere, but that is not what most of us

want. We would like the intimacy of emotional and spiritual connection and believe we are worthy of

it. We have come to believe sex without love can be psychologically damaging and we are not willing

to open ourselves to more hurt.

When I talk about things sexually I am still in a confused stage and sexual conduct to me is

a mystery. How to be me and not go back into the past…, you can put yourself back in that

mental situation of your childhood during the act of sex. Then you have the guilt of doing that

as well. It’s enough to stop you wanting to have it, or it can drive you to have more and more

to try and wipe out the memory and get it out of you.

…mentally I was there with him. It was like it did this big cycle from my father to him and we

had it out. Everything came out, all the ugliness… I got injured and nearly died, but I look at

it now and think I was purged. I know now that I am capable of a deep committed sexual

relationship, with orgasm. I know now I don’t have to put up with abuse, whereas before in

relationships it was abuse and mechanical sex. When you have been abused, it becomes

part of the furniture. Now I know that I am a spiritual, mental and physical being with

boundaries that were violated at that one time with those assaults. I have been up and down,

but now I go slowly and things are getting better. It is a slow, sure thing, not the quick fix.

When I choose to have another relationship I will be able to commit more fully and not feel like

I have to hold back. I am comfortable about my boundaries and aware of who I am.

Journal Exercise

• How would you describe yourself as a sexual woman?

• What messages have your childhood experiences given you regarding sexuality, your body, love?

• What problems/issues do you have regarding sexual activities?

• Which are the most fulfilling and joyful expressions of love and intimacy for you? How can you

build more of these into intimate relationships?

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• If you struggle with your body image, what is stopping you from being comfortable?

• What do the voices of discomfort have you saying to yourself?

• How can you silence these voices so the voices of happiness and joy in your body can surface

more often?

Becoming Comfortable with Our Body

Many of us are not comfortable with our body. Some cannot look at themselves naked. One woman

struggles to touch her body. Others cannot get health checkups such as pap smears and breast

examinations for fear of exposing their body and having it touched by a stranger. Before we are ready

for intimate relationships, we have to be at ease with our body so we can focus on keeping control

of the boundaries around our body. Once we are at ease with ourselves, then we can move on to

becoming relaxed in the presence of other women. In female friendships we learn how to talk openly,

give and receive touch such as a hug or brushing one another’s hair etc. For some, isolation during

the adolescent years deprived us of experiencing supportive female friendships and rediscovering

that shared companionship is helping us work out who we are. It addresses our loneliness because

we have some people with whom we can share ideas and experiences and talk through life’s

problems.

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