An anchor is defined as two things: 1. A heavy device that is attached to a boat or ship by a rope or chain and that is thrown into the water to hold the boat or ship in place. 2.: A person or thing that provides strength and support.
In my mind that means an anchor can either be a weight or a strength.
After sexual abuse you need an anchor. But that anchor needs to be of strength and support. We don’t need something that weighs us down we need something that will support us, ground us, so that we can then be lifted up.
A good loving anchor will allow you to soar.
Herein lies the hard question that no one wants to talk about. How do we become intimate again after something that is supposed to be beautiful becomes a nightmare? How can a nightmare become a dream again? The anchor has a lot to do with it.
So we seek out a person, a love, that we can share intimacy with. But it is very important that that person becomes a support in our life, not a weight. The last thing that we need is another weight. The weight of sexual abuse alone is enough. It is something we all strive to lighten as we go through life. The wrong person can bring all the weight back of the sexual abuse and sink you to the bottom of the ocean.
Some of us put pressure on ourselves if we are already in a relationship or married. We think we owe our significant other that intimacy, or sex, to make them feel like everything can be back to normal. We want them to feel better so they think we are better. In doing that we sacrifice our own healing process. Until you are absolutely ready you should not force or push yourself into sex.
I will be less vague. A woman who has been raped should not be expected in any specified time frame to have sex with her significant other. And that really goes for the rest of your life. I could be married for 18 years. I have been married for 18 years! And if I am having a moment of a flashback or something just doesn’t feel right, I always stop. I stop because my body deserves for me to honor it. I will always stop if it does not feel right. And my husband will always and has always respected that.
I chose to marry a man who has never pushed me to have sex. I chose someone to be an anchor of support and strength and THAT is how I have healed, so that I can have sex without feeling violated. After rape = feeling violated, so it is hard for sex to then = warm fuzzy feeling. It is not always the spouse’ fault that we may feel that way, but it is certainly their position as a spouse to respect our feelings at all times, and stop when we feel we cannot do it. We must be honest.
I will be brutally honest. Having sex with your spouse is supposed to be full of love, joy, bliss, bonding, and happy. But that sexual experience that is supposed to be beautiful, caused pain when I was molested. It caused suffering. It caused traumatic memory. And as much as therapy, self talk and healing can happen, having sex again can be a very very hard thing to do.
For healing to take place, so that you can have healthy happy sexual experiences again, you have to establish ground rules. Things need to be on your terms. At any time stopping must be an option. And you have to talk about all of these things. The worse thing you can do is to force yourself to do something you are not ready to do. If you think that you can just do it over and over again and it will get easier, then it will never be what it is meant to be. Pretending will not work after sexual abuse. Pretending with your spouse will not allow you to grow or heal. It will just bury feelings and pain. All things buried, fester. They do not heal. They result in resentment towards your loved one. You will end up hating them in the end. But they may not even know. So you HAVE to tell them! You have to tell them what is OK and what is not OK. When it is OK and when it is not OK. And they have to be able to be patient and understanding through the process.
I told my husband exactly what I do not like. I told him certain triggers that will bring up memories. I have told him what I needed to heal. And he listened. And because he listened I am able to have a wonderful relationship in all aspects.
Please do not settle. You deserve someone who will wait, do whatever makes you feel comfortable, and always always stop at any time you feel you cannot at that moment continue.
I have read books and had therapy and no one has ever to my knowledge discussed sex after rape or being attacked or being molested. It is a very confusing and complicated subject. It is also very personal and can be very embarrassing. But so often I have heard a woman say that she just does it. She thinks that he will leave her if she doesn’t. That infuriates me.This topic must be discussed.
Any man who would leave a woman because he could not have sex with her after she was raped is not a man you need to be with. Any man who puts a time limit on how long it should take you to be ready to have sex again is not a man you need to be with.
Any man who puts his sexual needs above your sexual trauma is not a man you need to be with.
To heal, to be able to enjoy your own sexuality again, you must be with only one kind of anchor. Not one that weighs you down. You must be with one who supports you. My husband is my anchor. Because of him I have healed on so many levels. On my own terms. In my own time. If someone is your real anchor they will honor you, cherish you, and always put your healing above their own sexual needs. My husband has always honored me. Every day of every moment we have been married.
Don’t settle for any less than that. I still have flashbacks. I still have things that come out of the blue and stop me in my tracks. I get this tight feeling in my stomach and want to curl up in a ball. Sometimes I will just smell a smell that will remind me and I will freeze for a period of time before I snap back in to the present. It happens. Traumatic events may leave you with these and other PTSD symptoms. I always respect that moment. I remind myself I am not there any more. I remind myself I am safe and loved. Most of all I respect my body. I would not ignore those feelings and push through them in hopes that somehow a forced good moment will take away that bad moment.
That nightmare cannot be turned into a dream. You have to first wake up from the nightmare. Snap out of the bad memory. And then work towards making the dream again. I know at first you don’t think that you will be able to feel something good again. Its hard to imagine something feeling good after it has caused such suffering. There have been times when I hoped I would never have to have sex again.. .But what an injustice that would be. A criminal should not have the power to take away your joy indefinitely. A rapist should not be able to take away your ability to enjoy what is meant to be enjoyed with someone you love. I will not let the men that abused me win. By giving up on the ability to have a healthy sexual relationship with the man I love, would be letting the criminal win. We can’t let them win.
The dream is possible. It can happen. It will happen. The nightmare does not have to take away the ability to dream. It does take time. And it takes someone who truly loves you. But all things are possible. So don’t give up, and remember, you deserve to feel good again. You deserve to feel loved. Your body deserves to be respected. You get to demand that respect, and make having sex again something that is on your terms.