Healing from a sexual trauma is a dynamic process.
The reality is that often, when one engages in sex during this time, the sex goes beyond “fucking,” “sex,” or “getting laid.” Making love after you have been violated requires diving into the deepest, most intimate parts of your body and soul.
Today, when I made love with my partner, it was filled with passion, licking, grabbing, fingernails digging into skin, and equal parts love, slow kisses, soft whispers, stroking.
Afterward, we both started laughing because we were both so loud, and we have tenants that live above. We were laughing from our bellies, pure playfulness and light, and I felt so incredibly safe.
However, the feeling of safety quickly unraveled, and my half-patched wounds re-opened as I started sobbing in the midst of laughter. My tears were thick like honey and warm like the sun and all I could do was surrender to the ever-present emotion.
I was taken to a deeply vulnerable place inside my body, because the laughter and sense of safety reminded me that there had been many times throughout my life where sex had not been safe.
In that state of sobs and pure terror at being reminded of my past sexual abuse, all I could do was trust my partner, this man I’ve repeatedly opened up to, in more ways than one, over the course of our relationship.
I clung onto his naked body like a lost child looking for safe harbor.
All I needed was to be held, and in that vulnerable moment, it was as if my boyfriend could sense all of my emotional and physical needs. He proceeded to hold me, stroke my back, and whisper in my ear that I was safe and loved.
Above all, he held the space to feel emotions I’ve suppressed over the years.
Before my boyfriend came into my life, I never knew this kind of intimacy existed. I always thought that sex was supposed to be for pure pleasure and some type of performance—which is a whole other story to get into. But the intimacy my partner and I were exploring in bed felt like partaking in a sacred ceremony.
It’s not always like this, even with him. There are a lot of tears and moments where we have to stop because my body relives the abuse with vivid flashbacks. But there are moments when I tap out of the experience: I am so purely in my head and nowhere near my body or connecting to the energy field of my pussy or my partner’s penis.
This is why true intimacy goes beyond sex, fucking, getting laid, and “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.”
Because when you make love, you’re not just opening up your legs, but also your soul. Through the trust and vulnerability of opening up in this way, you are transported to a whole other layer of sexual pleasure and healing. The physical touch becomes a healing touch—it’s medicine for the body, mind, and soul.
This naked intimacy beyond our physical world is not easy; healing and transformation never are. My relationship with my trauma changes daily. Sometimes, it feels too heavy to bear, and others, I feel centered and grateful.
When I am in my center, I see that I cannot change my life’s experiences. I can’t go in a time machine. I can only face the storm and meet it head on. Instead of telling it to go away or leave, I say thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you for this experience because it has shown me the deepest intimacy I’ve ever felt with another human being. My thirst for sacred sex comes from a long history of abuse, violation, being drunk, not knowing how to say, “No, stop, I don’t want this.”
Exploiting my body in the past has created stagnant emotions of shame and guilt. As a result, I was not giving my sacred temple the respect and honor it deserved.
But I am grateful, because now I truly know and feel the difference between real intimacy and fucking.
I am a work in progress. Rebuilding a healthy relationship with sexuality is a daily practice of journeying into my body and cleaning my womb from the abuse and scars other men have left.
For the others out there seeking to reconnect with their bodies and rebuild healthy relationships with their sexuality, I first and foremost want to offer my support and love.
From one survivor to another, I am here for you when you need someone to lean on. Know that although we have not met, I know you and your spirit, because survivors of abuse and rape are connected through our resilience.
I’d now like to offer some strategies that have helped me to heal.
Learn to breathe.
When I started practicing breath work, it felt like I had discovered a magical artifact. Using my breath in the act of making love brings me back to my body and grounds me in the present moment.
You can begin breath work outside of sex (I highly recommend this). There are lots of techniques out there that can guide you back to using your breath, so search around and see what resonates.
My personal favorite is breathing straight down to my womb and vagina. I do this either by sitting or lying down and feeling the breath come through my vagina up to my nose and then repeating for as long as feels good.
Honor the womb.
There is so much shame stored in our wombs from negative notions about periods, to sexual abuse, and just pure insecurities of what our vaginas look like, smell like, and taste like.
I let go of that shame by becoming period positive and started to connect to my cycle through Native American teachings and using the fertility awareness method. I would tell my vagina she’s beautiful, amazing, and loved. Slowly, my womb, vagina, and I all befriended one another and the shame started to lift.
Dancing brings me back to my body in a way that allows energy to move and release. Dancing is a therapeutic process of exploring movement with a great sense of play. The physical expression brings me back to an empowered feminine space that makes me feel beautiful.
Before I started dancing, I felt so ashamed for existing in a body that had boobs, ass, and a pretty face. This practice helped me start seeing that my body was for my pleasure only—not anyone else’s.
Ask for support.
If you don’t ask, how will anyone know how to help you? This is a lesson I’ve learned but still find challenging.
By reaching out, you are taking a step toward your own healing. Ask for support, whether that be online or in person. Look up resources online, reach out to other survivors who have moved through similar trauma and are now in a more empowered place, or ask for support from family, friends, partners.
When I did this, I truly listened to my needs—and although it involved other people’s participation, it was a powerful action of self-love.
This process takes time. Like I said in the beginning, I’m still a work in process. I’ve been working intimately for the past four years of my life, and I’m sure I will continue to do so until I’m in my 60s. It’s not about getting rid of the pain and all the trauma—it’s about embracing it. In doing this, we become able to actually let it go.
These are the practices I’ve implemented in my life to heal and rebuild a connection to my sexuality and body. However, recovery is not a one-size-fits-all process, so I invite you to explore what feels right for you.
And if you haven’t yet discovered it, keep in your heart that there’s a deeper intimacy waiting for you out there.
Author: Ally Canales
Image: Dahiana Candelo/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina