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Reclaiming My Sexuality After I Was Raped

Reclaiming My Sexuality After I Was Raped

I used to think I’d never have sex until my wedding night. Then I was raped. That next morning, after the blood, the tears, the suppressed “no” repeated over and over again; after it all disappeared, and I was left alone, I didn’t know what to feel. I felt empty, but the emptiness wasn’t because I felt someone had taken something so precious from me, it was because I had put so much effort into saving myself, and now it was all a loss. It felt pointless, I felt out of control, and I felt stupid.

For a while, that’s all I felt especially in regards to men. I didn’t want to have anything to do with sex, at all. I would listen to beautifully spoken stories of survivors, telling how they came to terms with what they’d been through. But no one ever talked about having sex again after. No one ever mentioned how to reclaim your sexuality. So I got doubtful. Maybe I wasn’t meant to have sex again. Maybe I shouldn’t even want to. At that point, all I’d known about sex was that it hurt, that it was followed by clenched fists and muffled cries into my pillow. That it wasn’t what I wanted, then.

But for me, taking charge of my sexuality was a control issue. After I was raped, I started to feel so completely out of control. I thought that nothing really mattered anymore. I started eating crap food, I stopped working out and writing. I lost control of myself. And that was one of the worst times of my life. That period of just not caring, of just nothingness. Maybe someone would call it my grieving period, maybe it was a time of rest and emotional healing. I don’t know. All I know is it sucked, and claiming my sexuality helped it tremendously.

I remember talking to my best friend, about a year before any of this happened, how she was telling me of a girl in one of her group projects who bragged all the time about the numerous men she slept with. “I’ve never actually met someone who has casual sex, like in real life!” She said, and I agreed, I hadn’t either. The girl seemed like an alien, a strange, foreign creature I had nothing in common with. I knew I was saving myself. Sex was bad, unless you were married. Yet something in me admired the girl, respected how confident in herself and her sexuality she was.

Now, I identify with the girl much more. My first time having sex after my rape was an interesting experience. I knew before we even got in the Uber on the way to the hotel room that I wanted it, all. I knew before I went out that night, I knew before that week, that month, even, that I wanted to have sex again, on my terms. After realizing that I didn’t feel too guilty about losing my virginity, I decided sex didn’t have to be so taboo, so bad to even think about.

So, I had a one-night stand. I engaged in hook-up culture. I hit it and quit it. Whatever you want to call it, I had casual sex. And, while the guy was an absolute dick the next morning, I can’t deny that I enjoyed it. It felt good to be in control, to actually give consent. To enjoy sex for what it could be—pleasurable.

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I’m not arguing that having casual sex is the answer to getting over being raped, but for me, it was a huge help. Because now, I don’t associate sex with the guy who raped me, I associate it with fun and good feelings and laughter into bare chests and fingers tickling my arm. Now, I see that I don’t need to feel ashamed about what happened to me, or about sex in general.

I don’t think I’ll continue to have casual sex for very long. But now I’m so confident that when I am in love, or even with someone I care about, that we can have sex and I won’t feel dirty about it. That we can have sex and enjoy it, together. That we can be together, completely.

Reclaiming my sexuatlity allowed me to erase the blurry visions of that night. It let me move past his breath against my face, ignoring my protests. It let me realize that what happened wasn’t my fault, and despite everything, I have the right to decide when and if I want to have sex with someone. And to me, that matters.

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