Navigating Intimacy with a Sexual Assault Survivor

As you may have gathered by now, both Phoenix and I have been sexually assaulted. I personally do not like the term ‘survivor’, as I have done much more than survive. While Phoenix experienced his sexual assault many years ago, mine was much more recent…in fact only months ago. In addition to negotiating our relationship within a d/s dynamic, we have to deal with the fact that some things are raw, and emotions do arise that have nothing to do with each other. 

The following is something a friend of mine (who prefers to remain anonymous) wrote that gives some tips on what you can do if your partner is a survivor of sexual assault.

Create a safe space.

If you’re engaging in a relationship with an assault survivor, they may have told you they have experienced some trauma, but maybe haven’t told you the story. Be patient with them. Create a space in which they feel safe to share and feel free of judgement. Don’t push to hard and be more of a listener than a talker. Sometimes all a survivor needs is to feel like someone believes them. Also be understanding that they may never feel okay sharing their story. Love them anyways.

Hot and cold.

Sometimes they will be super enthusiastic about engaging in sexual behaviors and sometimes it will seem like they are completely shut off. Try to be understanding of this. We often go through ups and downs dealing with our memories of our trauma. One day we can feel like we have overcome it and other days we will feel defeated by it. Do your best to not make them feel “guilt” about changing their mind about having sex or being intimate. Sometimes our minds just get the better of us.

Enthusastic consent.

Don’t just look for a yes, look for a fuck yes! Often times, we will be afraid or timid to say no, because of the fear that you’ll just take it anyway. While this is something we need to work on with ourselves, if you’re aware we may do this, it will help us navigate how to communicate in a healthy way.

Comfort.

Often times, I have nightmares of the incident, it can be so graphic in my dreams that I’ll wake up screaming or crying. I always inform any of my partners that I sleepover with that this may happen. And something that always helps me is the comfort they give me when I wake up this way. They never make me feel bad about waking them up or having an incident. Having that comfort when I wake up from the nightmare soothes my fears and I usually fall back asleep shortly after.

Self-esteem.

We will feel bad about ourselves, this looks different for every survivor. For me, it’s mainly regarding my physical appearance. I’m always trying to find ways to build my self esteem and find my self love for my body. My partner has gone out of his way to always support this. He encourages me when I’m at the gym and any other activity I do to build my self esteem. Whatever this looks likes for your survivor, be supportive. Help them build up their self love.

Be patient.

More than anything, be patient with us. We want to find intimacy and we want to have healthy relationships. It may just take us a while to get there. But with your love and support, we will get there.

While this is not a comprehensive list and may not apply to all survivors, I hope this may help some of you. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to someone or go online and find resources. I also made a point in this post to not use pronouns for gender. My reasoning for this is because victims and survivors can be of all genders. Please try to remember that.

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