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Attitude toward sex by a woman who was sexually abused as a child

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  • Attitude toward sex by a woman who was sexually abused as a child

    Is anyone else out there actually *scared* of sex? I have panicky, sometimes angry feelings when my man initiates sex. Sometimes I can overcome that and enjoy myself, but other times I end up in tears and he is worried.

    I am 50 years old, but I just gradually came to the realization over the past 6 months that I may have been sexually abused as a child....and definitely as a teenager.

    I'm freaked out and confused. I'm just wondering if there's anyone else out there like me.


  • What brought you to realize that you had been molested or sexually abused?
    Has this response to sex been a lifelong problem?
    If it's fairly recent, do you have any idea what has triggered it?

    Comment


    • Good questions, WC. I've had a fear of sex before, but only during my 10 year marriage which ended 10 years ago. It never seemed to be a problem during dating/casual relationships. The "phobia" seems to show up only during really committed relationships. The man I am with now is my fiancee, and I've lived with him for 2 years. In all other respects, our relationship seems like a healthy one.

      During this past Spring I decided to get off all the psychiatric medications I've been taking my entire adult life. I have been on various antidepressants and anxiety-reducing drugs due to panic disorder and major depression (and now I'm wondering whether the panic and depression also have something to do with sexual abuse).
      I am following a safe, slow path to tapering down on these meds, but I've been taking some of them for decades so it hasn't been easy.

      I think it has been this tapering process that has brought up distant memories of sexual situations as a child. My father is an alcoholic (and has always been, as far as I've known him). I've always been a bit afraid of him, though he's never been violent or angry around me--only silent and distant. A few months back, I began having some vague flashbacks of him coming into my room late at night. I know I wasn't raped (I remember losing my virginity when I was 18). But I think he might have exposed himself to me.....it's all fuzzy in my memory.

      When I was in my teens and early 20's I definitely went through some date-rape situations. I never reported any of it or told anyone, because these incidents were in that "gray area" where I didn't fight back physically and didn't scream (though I did say "No" emphatically).

      Maybe as I get further into this process of tapering off psychiatric meds my memory will get clearer. I am certainly not going to confront anyone, since there's no point in creating a crisis for anyone else until I have something more concrete to go on. I do have every single symptom of childhood sexual abuse....but maybe those symptoms are so general that everyone has them to some degree. Thus my question to the forum..... I'm trying to get a sense of whether other women have this problem.

      Thanks for asking!

      Comment


      • It is great that you are getting off the drugs!

        Memory is a tricky thing and we can "remember" things that didn't actually happen to us, we can also completely fail to recognise things that did. There are a number of books on this subject, one author whom I think does a pretty good job of explaining the current understanding of how our brains work is Shad Helmstetter. You might want to check out his books; What To Say When You Talk To Yourself and The Self Talk Solution.

        What constitutes abuse can be very subjective. You remember losing your virginity, so you know you did not experience penetrative sex and probably not penetrative fondling either. You have an idea that exposure may have been part of this. How would that be so traumatic as to affect the rest of your life? (only you can answer that, your responses are different from anyone else's) I'm not saying it couldn't be but my guess is there is something else. Having grown up with cyclic abuse I have some ideas of what it can do to you emotionally. But, as I've said many times, as a child when the people whom you are dependent on and who are supposed to love and protect you, are the people you need protecting from, it creates a lot of trouble with boundries and natural self protective behavior. You have it on at least two fronts; a parent who was an alcoholic, distant and untouchable and the other parent who may have failed to intervene in stopping the results of their spouse's behavior.

        Keep in mind that what you think you are remembering is coming through a filter of many years, is based on a child's perception and understanding and that you have spend years on psychotropic drugs. All these all drugs have side effects and those may include some of the things you are trying to treat such as anxiety.


        Trouble with bounderies and wanting male attention and affection probably accounts for your past inablitity to say NO in a defining manner and to follow it up with appropriate action. Having been forcibly gang raped I am cautious about calling situations we wish hadn't happened 'rape' when we had the power to walk out. But I don't know what circumstances happened to you, so I cannot really make any comment on that. Systematic or regular physical abuse can certainly result in 'training' into accepting inappropriate treatment, so can belittlement and emotional abuse.

        You may very well never know what really happened. While sometimes knowing the origins of a response or behavior can be helpful, what really counts is how we chose to respond now. We can break old patterns of behaviors and consciously create new ones without spending years analysing everything. It is possible that the treatment you received in past relationship(s) created a pattern of response that has resulted in a fear of sex. What you have to determine is if it is a fear of harm from another? Fear of some kind of inadequacy? Fear of being manipulated or taken advantage of? Sometimes our fears are missplaced, have been redirected so to speak.

        I told a story here a while back of my experience with jumping off a cliff into a swimming hole. I had done things like this before in my youth and had fun doing it and under far less safe conditions. It wasn't a particularly high drop. There were people of all ages jumping into this pool; little kids, teens, adults, elderly people - I couldn't do it. A gentleman offered to hold my hand and jump with me. I thought I could and pulled back at the last moment. The idea of going over the side into nothing and then water just paniced me and I am not a person generally given to irrational fears. If I had an opportunity to do it today, I'm not sure I could. Up until very recently I've been doing some work that carries a fair level of risk. In work situations I've broken into 100s of vacant properties without knowing who or what may be in there, walked around on third story roofs (they aren't flat), if I fell there it would really dangerous. I've worked around power lines with a chain saw - that was stupid and in the future I'd call the power company - but it really didn't bother me. I've been in some places that were so structurally damaged that they should be condemed. I don't know why I have this problem with going over a nice easy cliff into water. It's litterally child's play.

        My point is that we may never know where something came from. What counts is; can we live with it and if we can't, what are we going to do to change it? It doesn't really matter if I never jump over a cliff, while I wonder why I can't because I remember it is fun, it doesn't really affect my life. But being afraid of sex will affect your life and keep you from many pleasurable experiences. Only you, perhaps with the help of a good counselor, can decide if you would benefit more from digging around in your past or teaching yourself new responses. We humans seem to learn negative responses much faster than positive ones. I read the someone had a theory that was due to some survival mechanisms, but it sure can mess us up in some situations.

        Above all treat yourself lovingly.
        Oh and I have an idea that you may find reading, The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock, thought provoking and enjoyable.

        Comment


        • Everyone reacts different to a history of sexual abuse. Some may fear sex, and withdraw from it... some may become oversexxed, become promiscuous, some may develop low self esteem, some may not have any adverse affects whatsoever in their sexual relationships or some may waver between oversexxed to hating sex to indifferent to healthy relationship to sex, etc. It just depends on the person.

          I was sexually abused as a child and the thing I've come to realize that it had the biggest impact on was (is) my self-esteem. I've struggled my whole life with feelings of worthlessness and its only been recently that I realized that the abuse I went through as a child likely played(plays) a huge role in that. My interest in sex has not been affected, I enjoy sex and thrive on affection and touches.
          Scars remind us of where we've been...they don't have to dictate where we're going.

          Comment


          • as HD, states..
            I was sexually abused as a child and the thing I've come to realize that it had the biggest impact on was (is) my self-esteem. I've struggled my whole life with feelings of worthlessness and its only been recently that I realized that the abuse I went through as a child likely played(plays) a huge role in that. My interest in sex has not been affected, I enjoy sex and thrive on affection and touches.
            ......I had similar.. But add Fear, fear of expression. (my differed feelings/ideas).. I still experience them at times.
            [COLOR=purple][FONT=Comic Sans MS][COLOR=blue][/COLOR][/FONT][/COLOR]

            Comment


            • Hugs to everyone. One of the keys to moving forward is to keep putting one foot in front of the other even if the task seems insurmountable. Baby steps will still get you there. Dr. Shad Helmstetter is a dynamic speaker. I would suggest going to see him speak if you ever get the chance.
              I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
              ...
              Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

              From a speech by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia

              Comment


              • I also suffered some abuse as a young child. But it also affected my self esteem in general much more than my ability to enjoy sex. It's the feeling of not being good enough as a person. However, I'm happy to say that over time I realized the abuse took place because there was something wrong with the abuser and not with me personally, and my self esteem has recovered since then.

                Comment


                • I spent so long living on auto-pilot not looking deeper at why I was doing what I was doing. I was an increddibly promiscuous teenager, always seeking validation through sex... and now I am an adult in a healthy monogomous relationship but I think I STILL seek validation through sex, albeit just from one person now. When he doesn't want to have sex on any given day, it makes me feel bad inside and I know it shouldn't.... I'm realizing I have a lot of my self-worth wrapped up in being wanted sexually that I know isn't healthy for me or my relationship.
                  Scars remind us of where we've been...they don't have to dictate where we're going.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Hopeless Dork View Post
                    When he doesn't want to have sex on any given day, it makes me feel bad inside and I know it shouldn't....
                    While it's obviously unrealistic to expect the other person to always want sex at the same time that you do, I don't think feeling bad when you try to initiate sex and are turned down is all that unusual, especially when the other person has a lower drive. It's a matter of sexual compatibility, but most people will ask themselves if it might have something to do with them.

                    Comment

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