Dealing with sexual assault

sex, marriage, relationship, intimacy, boyfriend

I finally decided to deal with a sexual assualt that happened to me when I was in high school. I had never acknowledged the event even to the perpetrator (my boyfriend at the time) and did my best to minimize the event.  I told myself it was no big deal and I couldn’t muster up any feelings around it, especially not anger toward the rapist.

Coincidentally, I was talking to a woman who had been abused by a trusted family friend and she told me that minimizing the event is common among victims of sexual abuse. We will see another’s abuse as hugely important but give our own no value at all. She also said it doesn’t matter what form the abuse takes, it is all equally devastating to the victim.

What I discovered in doing some counseling around the event is that I didn’t actually blame the guy for what he did to me: I thought I deserved it. The event has affected me more deeply than I ever imagined and has had a huge impact on my self-esteem. I believed that I couldn’t possibly be worthy or else that would never have happened to me. I felt dirty and ashamed which were feelings I carried around with me my whole adult life but never acknowledged.

The rape also contributed to my fear of men and my often not being able to discern whether I was attracted to a man or scared of him. Both feelings seemed to occupy the same space in my mind. For my friend, her experience resulted in her denying her sexuality and for me it showed up in my using sex to gain power over men. My friend waited until she was married before she had sex – because of her faith but also, she confesses, because of her fear.

The realization of how one act of sexual violation can ruin a woman in almost every aspect of her life gives me more evidence that we should be waiting until we are in the safety of a marriage before we engage in sex. How many women do I know who have had sex forced on them or even given it up less than willingly? Who can count the devastating effects that we deny as we attempt to get on with our lives?

The woman above has now been married for several years and recently got through a very rough patch in her partnership and came out stronger on the other side as they dealt with their problems head on. She asked me what I want in a future partner and used her own example that she knew her future husband had to have faith in God. I was thinking about all kinds of qualities that didn’t really matter until finally it occurred to me as I fell asleep that night: “I want a man who treats me nicely.” I’m not sure I’ve ever had a partner who treated me as a person of value, because I didn’t value myself.


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I can relate to your story. My first boyfriend just ‘stuck it in’ with the previous question ‘do you suck dick?’ I definetely couldnt tell the difference between fear or attraction either and really havent been treated well bc of self esteem…value and bc i faced abuse. I came a long way and your rigjt the first step is calling a spade a spade and dealing with your feelings… wish you the best

    • Aw, this is so sad, especially because we are young and vulnerable it kills our self-esteem and self-worth for all our relationships that follow. I’m so sorry you have gone through that and wish you a gentle recovery from your trauma.

  2. For survivors of sexual & domestic abuse this book is very helpful to realize you can break the cycle of pain and live a healthy life.

    • Thank you for the tip, will check it out.

  3. Wow. being able to admit something like that would certainly be very tough. I have met a few people who have gone through abuse and they usually shrug it off like, “oh well” but you can see the pain in their eyes as if they have yet to face what they went through and heal from it.

    My grandmother had a truly disgusting father who abused all his daughters in different ways. While she was preparing for death in her last year, my mom talked to her about it and she said, “I can never forgive him”. . .she never did. It is sad that dozens of years after he had been gone, she still carried that pain.

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