Sexual abuse is one of the hardest types of abuse to talk about. Not only is it opening the doors of your most private space to others, it carries with it the most shame for the victims. After all, it is the forceful invasion of your innermost being, whether that be physical or emotional.
Sexual abuse doesn’t have to be physical…and it doesn’t have to include your abuser. Without getting too graphic, there are abusers who chose to watch others do the abusing, whether for money or their own sick pleasure. They will offer their partner to others and the victim is a prisoner, not having a say in the situation. Or the abuser will bring another into the intimate relationship, not caring that the victim doesn’t want to participate with anyone else.
An abuser can also be sexually abusive emotionally, without hurting them physically. Constantly cutting down a victim concerning their performance, making fun of their physical appearance when intimate, offering an intimate experience in a loving way and then stopping, as if in disgust or anger, twisting the whole experience to make it seem like the victim is at fault. A common comment an abuser will make is, “Nobody else would want you.”, making the victim feel undesirable and self-conscience.
And then of course, there’s the physical, sexual abuse. In my years of working with victims, the sexual abuse stories I’ve heard are the ones that break my heart the most. An act that is the ultimate display of oneness and intimacy is turned into a twisted experience that shreds the heart, mind and soul of the victim. Not only the physical pain, but the emotional and mental torture leaves scars that take years to heal.
Marital rape is a real thing. “No” means “no”. Your body is still your body, even if you are married and you have every right to choose what you will allow to be done to it. And I will take it one step further and say, not only does “no” mean “no”, no act should take place unless both people say “yes!” (notice the exclamation point!). A victim may be too terrified to say no. She knows what will happen if she does and it will be even worse than if she went along with it from the beginning. So, if she’s not saying “yes!” then she is not ok with it.
For a victim of sexual abuse, the healing process is long, slow and painful. It’s so hard to trust another person after you have been sexually assaulted. How can you? You have been violated at the very core of your being and even if you have a loving, gentle partner later, flashbacks and triggers can threaten that relationship. The effects linger for years. Sexual abuse combines all the major abuses in one…. physical, emotional, mental, psychological…. it’s just so hard to recover from, so hard to talk about later when you need to, to work through it to begin the healing process.
But, the good news is, it can be done! With time, counseling, the proper care of yourself, by yourself and others, you CAN rebuild your life and move on, with or without another partner to live a full, satisfying life.