Sex Toys & Survivors
The truth is, I am many, many things. I’m an author (published) and poet (unpublished), I’m a transmedia artist, I’m an overachiever, I’m a perfectionist, I’m more than a little bit of a rebel. I’m an astrology buff, I’m a gypsy soul, I’m a sass mouth, I’m a crazy cat lady. I’m an ordained minister with an honorary Doctorate in Divinity. I’m a workshop host, a fundraiser, a fiercely loyal friend. I’m an evolutionary activist, I’m a theater nerd, Grammar Nazi, a #FakeAdult (trademarked…maybe). One day, this happened:
Then I spent years in various stages of not recognizing myself. And because of those lost years, one of the many, many things I am is now and will forever be a survivor. In a lot of ways, that is a permanent scarlet letter. It aligns me with some, alienates me from others, and confuses a great many.
How could I end up in an abusive relationship? Of all people?
The honest answer is: more easily than you’d think. More easily than I ever thought.
[Note: Jump ship now if you’re worried about triggers. I will try to be careful, but I will be honest.]
I was systematically and quite thoroughly abused psychologically by a predator. I was very broken when I met him, and he saw that right away like I was wearing a sandwich board that said “Kick me.” And he proceeded to take all the advantage in the world of it. For a brief period at the end of the relationship, there were frequent and vicious violent outbreaks. And more than one of those attacks was sexual.
My abuser used information gained during a long-term, intimate relationship to exploit and wound me. And he forever altered the way I exist in this world. I would not say that if it wasn’t true — I don’t want to say it even though it is true. I say a lot of things along the lines of my having processed my pain, forgiven his transgression, blah blah blah. And those things are true, too.
It’s important to know that both these things can be true.
It’s also really important to note that this is not a situation unique to me. 25% of women are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, partner or date during their lifetime according to statistics. Fewer than 20 percent of crimes of sexual violence are reported to the police.
I did not report my attacks.
One of the things about the after in situations like mine is that it’s very easy to retreat from embodiment and visibility. You can run and run and run from intimacy and connection, reaching for food, liquor, and/or men to fill a void that you cannot deny is there unless you’re actively trying to fill it (what a Catch 22 that is). But what you ultimately have to do in order to heal on any level is to stop, stand completely still, and stare into that void. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, made even tougher because you never asked for any of it. Growth that’s forced upon you is a tough pill to swallow. But it’s possible.
I did a lot of reading and research about surviving and overcoming trauma in the past few years. And I’ve learned a lot about embodiment, alignment, connection. I’ve learned how to take my power back from the terrorist who tried to steal it. I have learned that shutting down my experience of life is allowing that man to continue to win, to continue to dominate me. And that is not acceptable.
The lucky thing is that the inverse is true. By being rooted in my wholeness, femininity, and light, I get to win.
* * *
Through my worl, I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn even more about embodiment and connection. When I was compelled to take the leap and jump in with both feet, it was because of a lot of my reading about the sacral chakra and how critical its health really is in our lives.
My business gives me the opportunity to share with all women that reclaiming your body, your pleasure, and your agency is the ultimate form of empowerment. It allows me to educate women on a wide variety of topics. And it gives me a stage to entertain them while I do all that.
We can’t minimize the importance of creating safe, sacred space for women to speak with other women about their sexuality in a world where Googling “1 in 4 women” (which is a trauma statistic, as you’ll see in just a second) brings up this freakin’ image as a sponsored shopping result:
But also, deeper than that, in a world where 1 in 4 women on college campuses report being sexually assaulted, and the best estimate is that 1 out of every 10 assaults is reported, and 84% of these cases are at the hands of someone she knows… In a world where millions of women are combating the devastating effects of violence they never deserved or asked for, it is important to me that I’m in a position to tell them that there is life after and that the life after can be deeply, richly rewarding.
Pleasure exists for survivors, and I know that firsthand.
I’m blessed to be in a position to share that knowledge.