This is a guest post by Ev`Yan (bio below).
I was fifteen when I entered into a tumultuous relationship with a boy I thought I would marry. In that same year of life I gave my body to him.
In the cramped backseat of a van, as moonlight flooded through the windshield & onto our shoulders, I first experienced the fear in sex; that raw, frightening sense of vulnerability; that vicious kind of surrender, mixed with both Yes & No.
On my back, laying on top of school workbooks & baseball gloves, I winced as I braced myself with each penetration, his mouth recklessly finding mine. So many emotions were pulsating through my body: love, anxiety, excitement, dread, satisfaction, sadness… and not one ounce of pleasure.
I was confused. Was this sex? Was this what the fuss was all about? It all seemed so… careless; so meaningless. I felt my mind leave my body & it hovered over me for the next 10 minutes as I struggled with losing my innocence.
When it was over, I put on my clothes slowly. My body felt like it was vibrating; I could barely tie my shoe laces. I was trembling.
The thoughts in my mind raced as he drove me home. I sat quietly in the passenger seat, ruminating over what had just happened. My feelings were mixed: I felt violated; I felt pain, actual physical & emotional pain; I felt joy for successfully mimicking the passion & moves of a “real” woman; I felt confused; I felt lost; I felt terrifyingly exposed.
These emotions carried on into every single sexual activity he & I found ourselves in. It waxed (very seldom waned) until the day he forced me free from his grip, nearly three years later, when our relationship ended without much warning. He left me picking up the pieces of my broken heart. Many of those pieces were never found; I believe he still has them in his possession.
I have nothing of his.
On the telephone one evening, a friend of mine was playfully coaxing me to get into the nitty-gritty of my sexual relationships. So I told him of my ex-lover. I told him of the tears, the anxiety, the feelings of despair every time he penetrated my body. I told him of the few times I tried (& failed) to slice open my flesh after having sex with him, making thick welts on my arms that lasted for the rest of the evening — my battle scars.
I said these things lightheartedly, almost laughing, as if it were a normal part of any relationship. I’ll never forget the horror in my friend’s voice:
“My god, Ev`Yan. That’s not normal,” he said, concerned. “That was rape.”
It took my friend’s brutal honesty for me to see the sexual unhealthiness in my previous relationship. Before that, it had never entered my mind.
From that moment on, my idea of sex shifted into a place of darkness.
I suddenly found myself in a new relationship, one that thrived naturally, without any persuasion. And within weeks after meeting him, I made the conscious decision to give him my body, & we found ourselves in a shoddy motel room, hormones racing through our veins, fueled by a paroxysm of lust, & (unbeknownst to me at the time) love.
But no sooner did we tear off our clothes than my mind immediately, automatically, went back to that night in the van & all the other nights I had endured. The agony. The uncertainty. The lack of consent.
My body began to panic; my skin began to crawl. I wanted this man off of me, now. I wanted to fight back. I wanted to scream & kick & hit my way out. But I just laid there, my body fluctuating between being stiff & limp, silent tears dripping down my cheeks.
There it was. The trauma, the fear, heaving itself up & out of no where into my present situation. My mind & body flung then itself into a fit of anxiety so severe that I couldn’t breathe.
This reaction — this post-traumatic response — proceeded to happen every time I had sex with my new lover. Explaining to him brokenness didn’t come right away, but when it came it came with a barrage of tears, screams, & kicks. It came with debilitating anxiety & panic. It came with an unconscious reaction to flee.
One night, after sex left me once again broken on the bathroom floor, I finally acknowledged my pain & my defilement. And through that acknowledgment, I gave myself permission to heal.
This is my story. It is surely different from the account of my ex-lover; my truth is not his.
I have made peace with the fact that this trauma is & always will be a part of my history.
If I could have known how detrimental those sexual acts would’ve been to my inner being, I would have fought my way from underneath him; I would have said no. But I was young & stupid then. The damaging aspect of our sexual relationship was well hidden by the deep, blind infatuation we had for each other.
If I had known all of this, truly I would have spoken up.
I am speaking up now.
My story might look similar to yours, or perhaps it is completely different.
There are a lot of things that encompass sexual trauma; many emotions, actions, inner red flags. There is no linear definition of it. It is unique to the individual. Sexual trauma comes in all shapes & sizes.
Regardless of your experience, & regardless of what you choose to call it for the rest of your life — rape, abuse, an unhealthy sexual relationship, naivete, assault — one thing’s for certain:
Sex should never be damaging. Never.
It should always be freeing, beautiful, bountiful. It should lift your spirit up. It should be drenched in implicit trust with eyes wide open, not shut.
Sex should always give you pleasure, physically & emotionally.