After my initial sexual abuse, I had a hard time feeling that anything was normal. Even the most basic tasks, like boarding the school bus and walking the hallways, became unusual and frightening. I had no idea why my life felt so completely different. I could understand why touching other people, being in close proximity to others, and hearing and seeing even the most benign sexual innuendo was uncomfortable and unnerving. Yet, I couldn’t figure out why eating meals, dressing in the morning, and sitting in class brought such eerie feelings. These were all things I had done before and they had nothing to do with my sexual abuse.
I never realized until much later in my life why life from that moment on was so difficult. I had experienced a sexual relationship with no ability to process the information in the right way. Everything in my life was seen through the lens of sexuality, but I had no way in which to understand how to connect the two. I wasn’t ready for this biologically nor did I have the opportunity to talk about what was going on. There was no sexual readiness on my part at all.
I believe that many survivors endure this same inability to comprehend their world now that their eyes have been open to a sexual experience. I had a therapist explain this as “awakening the dragon”, which is also a term alcoholics use to describe a relapse. As a child, our brains are just not developed to integrate this experience into our life experience, nor should it be!
There are a number of responses that survivors use when reacting to these stressors. Hypersexuality, fear of the opposite/same sex, asexuality, depression and anxiety, and substance abuse are just a few of the ways in which survivors cope with their abuse. I encourage you, if these are things that you are experiencing, to find a therapist. It takes a great deal of work, but you can have a healthy sex life.