Do you remember experiencing growing pains as a child? Suddenly and inexplicably your bones would hurt. Your fucking bones? That’s what trying to fall back in love with sex post-sexual assault feels like.
You want to get there, you want to be the coy, flirtatious, vibrant vixen you once were yet despite your smile and laughter, despite your moans and clear arousal, something doesn’t feel right. You persist, but it hurts. It hurts you not in the way it hurt back when you were enduring the abuse initially. There are no yellowing bruises or claw marks or dry, bloodied lips. The hurt is coming from your bones. The hurt comes from places which cannot be soothed and you know this because you’ve tried - alcohol, promiscuity, exercise, therapy, reckless disregard for mind body and soul, pills, men, boys, girls, religion. You find ways to temporarily numb yourself but isn’t that worse? Is it better to feel nothing or is it important to feel something, even if it’s pain? Not the stinging, traumatic pain of a fresh injury, but rather a constant, lingering, condescending ache that pokes your freshly-minted scars at the precise moment you begin to forget you have them. Should you passively perpetuate your depression or face it head on, even if it hurts? Will it always hurt like this? You wonder.
After a while you start to ask yourself — Are you sore from growing, sore because your soul is getting stronger, because you’re exorcising your demons, or is this a residual ache from damages incurred long ago, like a flared-up old war injury that hits you in the dead of winter? Your pain, like depression, manifests physically despite being wholly emotional. Are we able to act as the masters of our own pain after the assault, the abuse, the domestic violence has been perpetrated on us? Can we decide how to use it? What about life after the terrible “R” word that no one likes to mention? Say “rape” and men everywhere shudder at the mirror that word holds in front of them, as the lines separating consent, violence, respect, shame, good guys, bad guys, villains and survivors are complex to those who have never been forced into submission out of fear. Can we take our sex lives back and accept that we are both survivor and sexual object?
You say to yourself, yes, we can. Handcuffs, ropes, whips, spanks, hands on necks, squeezing — okay, yes. Fingers shoved into a mouth and a ponytail pulled so hard it momentarily paralyzes you, neck fully extended. On hands and knees, cheeks flushed, ass raw — no triggers yet, you think. No mounting pain, no tears. These voluntary, consensual acts of submission feel like big wins while simultaneously bringing about guilt at the absurdity of your newly-found kink. Is my appetitive soul sensually sophisticated or am I merely fucked-up and playing “little girl in search of a Daddy to reward me for putting on a show”? Does it actually feel good or are you fooling yourself? It feels good, it feels good, it feels good, you tell yourself, because it does.
Falling back in love with sex and falling into sex through love means taking the necessary steps towards acceptance of what is now a new version of you. We accept that our appetites are jaded, no, different than they were when we still possessed our virginal innocence, the life that preceded sexual assault, and once we do there is progress. We can begin to seek out what excites us once we listen to our minds and bodies, no longer fearful of what we kept secret for so long.
For years I fed into fear and accepted an education into what I quickly disliked. I was forced to dislike everything which made me feel like I was nothing, worth nothing. Finally I have accepted this pain. I’m not afraid of it and am instead finding a “new innocence” within myself as I focus on exploring what I do like, now. No matter how cliche, outwardly pontifical, or offensively basic my new tastes may be, they are mine. I see now that I never let my promiscuous nature give way to a world of kink. I couldn’t until I truly began to accept the pain and heal — or perhaps it was the other way around? Regardless, finally, I feel genuine desire!
I care little for the idea of a lover but am bursting at the thought of a lasting, intimate bond. The sex I crave is the polar opposite of the sex which was forced upon me, as recently as a year ago, and the daily reminder that the power to distinguish and categorize sex and kink and pleasure is mine fills me with lust and confidence.
After completing the initial healing cycle of denial, depression, acceptance, treatment of depression and so on, this time around I am different. New. I want more than I’ve ever had and I am so willing to put in the hard work required to earn the sex that calls to me — being now a person who understands and has come to terms with wanting a bigger love, a stranger satisfaction, a darker sex than I've ever had before. I won’t turn away from passion or love or this new love of sex that’s exploding from an emotional place of desire instead of a fearful place ruled by needs.
The physical alone no longer satisfies me. I need ritual and depth and kink and a maddening yearning that leads me to crave. I do not need to be handled delicately as I once did. Instead, I desire hands more skilled than mine, a mind more cultivated than mine, mutual respect, intellectual maturity and a matched enthusiasm for worlds not yet explored and spontaneous cravings reciprocally satiated. Even love itself is a kink worth tying — to feel that falling feeling, to be carried by adrenaline while you dare to open yourself up, be submissive, and expose your inside parts, your warmest parts, to someone who desires you, even at your darkest.