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Guest blog: How to have sex again after a rape


Image by the fabulous Stuart F Taylor

Today’s guest blog is by an anonymous contributor, and reading it affected me so much that I don’t know how to capture that in an intro. It’s a stunning, raw, powerful story about having sex again after a rape, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to this brilliant writer for sharing their journey. Note that the first half contains descriptions of rape and assault.

How to have sex again after a rape

This all starts a very long time ago now, and a very long way from here. It’s the summer I turn 16 and it feels incredibly important to me to “lose my virginity” (yes I know) before my birthday. I have a nice boyfriend and we don’t do it even though we get as far as a point where we’re naked and giggly and I have him in my hand and he has his fingers inside me, and he asks if I want to have sex and I consider for a moment but say no, and he’s chill with that so we don’t, we just carry on with our hands. My birthday is looming, the clock is ticking.

I don’t know yet, because the past was a different place and we did things differently there, the idea of being too drunk to consent, but I know something isn’t quite right. I have sex for the first time with a friend whilst so utterly shitfaced I couldn’t open my own front door, and view the whole thing from a sort of detached angle because at least I’ve managed it before my birthday.

I move away and it happens again, twice in the space of a year, two different nights out. One I meet in a club, one I know already because we’re colleagues and we’re at a party. It doesn’t change things though, both buy me a drink or several, both engineer a way to get me on my own in a dark corner behind a locked door so I couldn’t get away even if I wasn’t trapped by my own fear. Both of them rape me.

I go to the police and the first set take my details, take my photos, believe me even. Because it was a stranger and I’ve got the bruises to show it, but then they pressure me to drop it and I do. The second lot won’t even listen to me, they laugh at me until I leave the station crying. I lose my job, he keeps his. And people wonder why conviction rates are so low.

For a long time, I think I might be asexual. I simply never associate the idea that for now, in my head, sex has been broken, it’s irrevocably attached to trauma for me, and people crashing through my boundaries. I have a brief period of trying out having sex again, but I don’t enjoy it, I put this down to the nature of one night stands not always being the greatest, and my inability to relax and get out of my own head when having sex, but I stop bothering with dates. I ignore the feelings of panic the idea gives me.

A few years go by and then there’s a global pandemic, then I blink and we’re a couple of years out of it and I don’t know anymore if I don’t want to date and have sex or if I just don’t trust anyone. Either way, I’m not even trying, and it’s been a decade since I’ve been touched outside of a smear test.

A misjudged snog at a party brings those events of over a decade ago kicking and screaming to the surface, and I have a series of panic attacks, in the ladies loos, in my bed, in the shower, on the bus, and I finally decide to get some goddamn therapy about it. The therapist I start to see is very kind, and very sensible, and once we establish I’ve been carrying around a decade of PTSD we can start to deal with it. She helps me unpick everything, helps me finally start to believe again that affirmative and ongoing consent can be a thing for me as well as for other people. That I shouldn’t say yes to things to keep someone else happy. She makes me practice saying no in other situations, with people I trust, and the more we unpick the more confident I feel.

The confidence I start to feel has a weird side effect, I start to get feelings of arousal that I’ve not had since I was a teen. I see a hot guy and feel a weird little tingling sensation somewhere around my hips that I haven’t had since I was a teen, and think to myself I remember this, this feeling, long time no see. I make myself a profile on some dating apps, and go out on some dates, I don’t feel scared anymore of the idea in the way that I did.

I meet a boy who is kind and nice, and I don’t intend to spill my entire history to him but I do, and luckily for me he doesn’t run screaming from the pub. He just asks if I’d like another drink and asks thoughtful questions to try and understand me better. I realise that I actually trust him and that with that trust comes the belief that I could ask him to stop and he would, and that is what makes him hot.

For the first time in as long as I can remember I’m not scared, I invite him round to mine and we snog in the kitchen like teenagers, hands everywhere, occasional polite pauses on a hem or a waistband before moving further. I invite him into my bedroom and in a very real way he reminds me of that first boyfriend, the one from my teens. I think if I panicked when our clothes came off and asked to just stay snogging he’d say yes, but this time I don’t. I don’t go to that far away place in my brain I’ve always inhabited before where I just wait for the sex to pass, because I’m actually enjoying this moment.

We ask each other a lot of questions, state a lot of desires, although the sentences get shorter as we get closer. I didn’t know before that I liked oral sex on me, because I used to hate the idea of the attention being on me, I’m just here to make you happy, but when someone gazes at you and tells you in that husky desperate voice “I want to eat you out” suddenly that seems like a thing I’d really like to, and I think I might like to give it a go and see if I like it now. I do. I find that I want to suck his dick, not out of a sense of reciprocal politeness but because I want to know if I can get him to make the little desperate noises he got out of me, and I do. I like that too.

By the time we get really down to it we’re both running out of words, but he still manages to say “may I?” with his dick in the crease of my hip, and I know in that moment, like the boy I knew at 15, if I said no he wouldn’t complain. That he would be happy to carry on with our hands and mouths, or to stop altogether if I needed him to. It’s that knowledge that makes me want him more, I don’t want to say no, I want to say yes. And I feel safe to say yes because I feel safe to say no, so I say yes and I grab him as he slides in and we fuck, and for perhaps the first time in my life I understand what all the fuss is about.

 

 



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