How I’m Healing My Sexual Abuse
By: Rocío Olivera
It’s a cold October morning, my room reeks of alcohol and sex, I see my clothing all over my floor, as I turn around, there is a naked body, unable to recognize who he is, nor what happened, all I knew was that I had to get rid of this horrible headache. I walk to the kitchen. I get back to my room and there he is, awake with a smile on his face. He asked me if I had fun, I nod and ask him to get an Uber. He grunts, puts his clothing back on and minutes later, he leaves my place. Not sure what it was but, I had ENOUGH of this lifestyle. I wanted to truly heal my childhood sexual abuse.
Did you know that in the USA alone, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult, and 82% of all victims under 18 are female? Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. I was one of those children, sexually abused by the hands of a trusted adult. At the time he was my step-father. I trusted him and he abused his power. This occurred for a period of about a year. I was about eleven and he was thirty-three.
Ten years later I am able to have sex for the first time with my consent, yet I had to be somewhat under the influence. I also bought my first dildo and lube but was not connected to my body so I was unable to relax. From twenty-three until about twenty-six I had what I call my sexual liberation. I slept with whom I chose, had multiple one night stands, and strong friends with benefits relationships, all in the hopes that I would get rid of the pain and be able to reach that orgasm everyone spoke of. During all of those situations, with the exception of the friends with benefits, I had to be high, drunk, or both. So, at twenty-six I bought a vibrator and lube and said, I want to orgasm! After twenty minutes of clitoral stimulation, I reached my first orgasm! At twenty-seven I started settling in my body, in my sexuality, I no longer felt ashamed, not afraid of sex. How did this happen? It happened with a lot of healing.
Here is what helped me heal and continues to help me. And remember, healing is not linear.
- I spend a lot of time alone with my vulva, looking at it, being okay with it, and of course, touching it. I remember getting super impatient when I wouldn’t come right away. At that point, I did not understand MY clitoris and that it takes anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes for me to be fully aroused. I spent a lot of time masturbating to fully let go. I needed to let go of fear since my brain attached arousal to fear and pain. I was learning what motions I like, different techniques (edging is my personal fav) and telling myself I am safe, and that I am deserving of pleasure. Ultimately, be okay pleasing yourself and discovering what YOU like…not what you have been told to like.
- For many childhood sexual abuse survivors, they block the sexual abuse out of survival. As we know, that creates a ticking bomb. I had to make time to remember and feel those emotions. I cried, I yelled, I let myself feel everything, and I wrote about it. It’s important to make time to feel that pain. I channeled my emotions through dance, I spent so many nights with my headphones on, just dancing it all out. For you, channeling that energy could be talking, writing, painting, dancing, working out, listening to music, or creating something out of the pain. There’s no right or wrong way to channel those painful memories, just let them out.
- Seek professional help. If you have access to mental health resources, check them out. Find someone who you connect with and feel comfortable with. Be vocal about what you want out of therapy. This could be: releasing pent up emotions, coping mechanisms, EMDR (what’s this?), or simply talking about it. At my first therapy session, I was sixteen and it was the most triggering and ineffective session. It was mandated by the state since my mother took this to trial. Years went by when I decided I wanted to talk about this. If I’m honest, you’re never really ready, you just know that you’re tired of carrying that pain.
There’s no linear method on healing this pain, and quite frankly we can’t press delete on those horrific memories, but we can ease the pain and create healthy coping mechanisms. Some days will be fantastic, some days you will be triggered and stay in bed all day and that’s okay. What’s helped me heal may not look the same for you. That’s also okay. These suggestions may or may not help, but I will say seek to heal that sexual trauma. You are able and will be able to enjoy sex after sexual abuse. Lastly, some gentle reminders that help me cope: you are more than a survivor, you are multidimensional, you are deserving of PLEASURE, you are ENOUGH, and not everyone wants to take something away from you.