Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'sexuality'.
Found 3 results
Sexual Assault & Orgasm During an assault, a Sexual Assault Survivor (SAS) may feel overwhelmed with feelings such as exposure, terror, helplessness, worthlessness, and isolation – yet amidst all this annihilating havoc, experience a degree of sexual arousal. This leaves many wondering: why does this happen and how does it effect a SAS's experience of sexual pleasure going forward? Each of us oscillate between “approach” and “avoidance” coping strategies in our quests to reconcile our experiences. Among SAS, this can present as oscillating between extremes of hypersexuality (i.e. high initiation of sexual behaviour) and hyposexuality (i.e. low initiation of sexual behaviour)(Covington & Müeller, 2001). Let's explore what each of these look like: Hypersexuality When an individual experiences orgasm during an assault, they encounter a rule of sex: increasing pain can increase pleasure. Sexual satiation is defined as the tipping point at which sexual tension begins to dissipate, typically following the climax of sexual excitement or stimulation (Bancroft & Vukadinovic, 2004). Because the brain is motivated to achieve equilibrium, it responds to extreme pain with a heavy release of opioids to regulate subjective experiences of distress and thereby produce a sense of calm (Tracey & Leknes, 2008). This anxiety-relief pattern is itself a “tipping point from peak tension to pleasure” and the SAS may come to understand that this is what sexual satisfaction is. During a period of hypersexuality, a SAS would likely describe the experience of rewarding sex as an energetic rush which culminates in a moment of “blacking out”, followed by a calm. As Freud conceptualizes it, it’s as if great tension in the body produces an urgent psychological drive towards satiation which results in climax in the psyche rather than body (Stoléru, 2014). For the hypersexual SAS, there is a pattern of overwhelming negative affect (i.e. feelings/emotions), alexithymia (i.e. the inability to identify or verbally describe ones feelings), and compulsive sexual behaviour (Walton, Cantor, Bhullar, & Lykins, 2017). Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts, of which the purpose is to prevent or reduce anxiety and distress. That is, they are ways of controlling the terror of lacking control. In this way, the SAS may learn to use sex as a way to medicate their distress. Although not particularly pleasant for their body, this compulsive anxiety-relief pattern produces an inherently reinforcing and potentially addictive “high” (Schwartz, Galperin, & Masters, 1995)(Bancroft & Vukadinovic, 2004) Hyposexuality When desperately trying to escape unwanted sexual stimulation, the SAS learns yet another rule of sex: decreasing pleasure can decrease pain. Dissociation is “the loss of the usual sense of self, time, and space, as a result of intense attentional focus or absorption in the environment, in feelings, in physical sensations, or in creations of the imagination” (Bird, Seehuus, Clifton & Rellini, 2014). In sex, a certain degree of this is helpful in order to remove the distractions of the external world, get out of our heads, and into the sexual experience of our bodies. Powerful psychological distancing effectively allows an individual to use another person’s body to masturbate, allowing for a climax in the body rather than the psyche. The hyposexual SAS would likely describe sexual satisfaction as an enjoyable physical release – similar but pronounced to a massage or scratching of an itch. In the hyposexual stage, the alexithymia associated with the hypersexual stage is reversed – that is, negative affect is consciously understood as being associated with the trauma, rather than confused as part of the “excitement” of the moment (Schwartz, Galperin, & Masters, 1995). To cope with this, the hyposexual SAS may avoid sex all together, or employ defence mechanisms to bypass awareness of emotions, bring sex to a tolerable level, and focus on the body rather than the whole of the self, other, or situation (Schwartz, Galperin, & Masters, 1995). Such defences can be employed to various degrees, for example – during sex the SAS may find they are immensely enjoying themselves one moment, then suddenly board (i.e. high defence), tearful (i.e. medium defence), or overcome with panic – thrashing wildly as if reliving an assault (i.e. low defence). A SAS may be familiar with their potential to fluctuate between these states, yet be unable to anticipate which if any of these will emerge. This lack of control over potential distress may be why a hyposexual SAS isn’t particularly inclined to initiate frequent sex. Furthermore, a heightened sense of trust tends to dissolve defences, which are crucial for preventing potential triggers in the environment from eliciting traumatic affect (Schwartz, Galperin, & Masters, 1995). This means that a SAS may respond to feelings of safety in the sexual context with the potential for an equal unmasking of their underlying sense of vulnerability to anticipated harm. For this reason, becoming too close to sexual partners may be registered in the SAS brain as dangerous, therefore they may prefer partners which they are in some way estranged to. Stepping Beyond the Cycle These “rules” of sex that may be learned within the context of assault, can be applied in healthy ways. The key is for the SAS to become aware of the forces that are driving them and begin to extract what they have discovered about pleasure from the horrors in which it was bread. Find out more about this in our next blog post, by entering your email below. To learn more about this study click: here. To pursue therapy with Sarah click: here. To be notified when part two of this post becomes available, enter your email below! References: Bancroft, J., & Vukadinovic, Z. (2004). Sexual addiction, sexual compulsivity, sexual impulsivity, or what? Toward a theoretical model. Journal of sex research, 41(3), 225-234. Covington, M. V., & Müeller, K. J. (2001). Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation: An approach/avoidance reformulation. Educational Psychology Review, 13(2), 157-176. Schwartz, M. F., Galperin, L. D., & Masters, W. H. (1995). Post-Traumatic Stress, Sexual Trauma and Dissociative Disorder: Issues Related to Intimacy and Sexuality. Stoléru, S. (2014). Reading the freudian theory of sexual drives from a functional neuroimaging perspective. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 157. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00157 Morber, 2013. What Science Says About Arousal During Rape. Retrieved by: https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-05/science-arousal-during-rape Tracey, I., & Leknes, S. (2008). A common neurobiology for pain and pleasure. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(4), 314-320. doi:10.1038/nrn2333 Walton, M. T., Cantor, J. M., Bhullar, N., & Lykins, A. D. (2017). Hypersexuality: A critical review and introduction to the "sexhavior cycle". Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(8), 2231.
How could I have been so naive? How could I allow someone to manipulate me so much? I feel worthless. I'm so alone. I feel annoying everywhere. To everyone. I'll have this shame inside me forever. My chest actually hurts because I just feel the loneliness and shame breaking my heart. I find myself seeing others with family or people talking about family or friends and my heart hurts so badly because I just long for it so much. I long for someone to see me and tell me I matter to them, too. I wish I knew what to do to change this feeling. I'm reverting back to bad coping mechanisms; which I guess is bingeing, fasting, drinking. I don't want to do this. But I feel so alone. I don't have one person I feel like I can truly open up to without feeling annoying. I wish I could feel connected. I'm depressed. I never think about suicide for me personally, but I have been thinking about suicide as a topic in itself. I feel so hopeless about ever being happy but I don't think about dying anymore. NOBODY CARES. I am nothing. A nobody. With an unbelievable story. A ghost. Was he right all along and that's why he chose to use me? I was weak? I was nothing? Still am those things I guess. I try not to let him write my life story; but I feel beaten down. I want to feel like I matter. I have always been unworthy to be seen by my parents, most family, friends. I have always tried to be there for everyone in my life and nobody is there to even ask me how I am. I feel like people only talk to me when they want something. So I feel used. Like I have always felt. I feel haunted by him more often than not. The things he said, he spoke them to life it seems. I am nothing Who could care about me? Would anyone really care if I was gone? No Where is everyone now? I own you. You will never forget. You will try, but you never will. And he is right. I cant forget. No matter how hard I try. He has ruined sex for me. He has completely obliterated any thought I have about pleasure. I never had a living sex life before the first rape. And the promiscuity I did experiment with was when I was 19, and so were the guys I was having sex with. So they were young and inexperienced and I never really orgasm-ed with them. I did orgasm with N a few times, but I was young and inexperienced and I didn't know what exactly had happened entirely to reach that each time. The only memories that I think of when it comes to pleasure are the rapes.. Because I orgasm-ed. It is humiliating. Extremely frustrating. I had no idea what I was doing, but it seemed to me maybe he knew what he was doing and that's what makes me so ashamed. Because even now I am aroused thinking about it. But it just is what it is...it happened. I can't undo it. So now if I orgasm or squirt, it is very humiliating for me. Every orgasm is met with a "no" aloud and I can't stop it. It is etched into my brain. Forever. I avoid squirting but on a rare occasion it will happen and I end up physically ill from it. Especially because whoever it happens with gets very excited and fixated on it, like he did. It's happened with DJ once and I tried so hard to not do it. It also happened when I was pregnant a few years ago. Now I am constantly edging a full orgasm because I don't want to accidentally do it again. He really ruined me. And I am sure he meant this. He intended this hell for me. I don't know how to not think about it. I have no idea what to do. I feel completely ruined. I don't know how to talk to anyone about this so I guess writing it is my only outlet. It is so embarrassing is it always like this??
So... I have been trying to communicate to my husband in a non-threatening, non-aggressive, husband-friendly way... that I NEED sex, sexual attention. That I NEED specific types of sex/sexual attention... and he is trying his best... But he just made me so angry last night. We were laying in bed, and I was trying to initiate sexy time... and there finally came a point where I just had to stop, because I was getting so hurt, angry, whatever. Here I was, writhing next to him, so ready for our sexy night, trying to be coy and touch his thigh/whatever... and he just lays there. He doesn't touch me. He doesn't look at me. That's his standard sexy pose... laying still, not making noise, eyes closed. I just feel so... invisible. And I KNOW that it is probably a mental issue on MY part.. Because, he got hard, we had sex, he came... so it wasn't like I didn't get what I wanted. And he DID touch me, say things to me, use words and stuff that I like... but.. I still just feel like it's a fucking chore to him. I know it's not... and I have tried to tell him over and over again... I NEED ATTENTION. LOOK at me. Talk TO me. Fucking pay attention to me!!! I feel like I want to wrap myself around his legs like a whiny toddler, and not let go until he promises to do it. It terrifies me -- what I might do if I keep feeling this way. See, then that's where I get angry at him again. WHY SHOULD I FEEL ASHAMED FOR SOMETHING 'I MIGHT DO', when it's something I wouldn't HAVE to do if he would just fucking pay attention to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Doesn't that make me a horrible bit*h? Like I'm saying, it's HIS fault if I leave him, cheat on him, whatever. But... when you try every way you know to communicate to your spouse what you need... and they just can't seem to figure out what you want/ or don't care (it is starting to feel this way...)...... Yeah... don't mind me, just complaining about my marriage. With my husband who is trying his best to be what I need, to give me what I need. Yeah. Let me just wallow in some more self pity. Fucking great. Ugh. Yeah. Just working through some shit.