What does it mean to say yes to be intimate with another person after or during recovery from abuse?

How do you know that yes truly means yes?

Consenting is not as simple as just saying okay to being intimate with someone. How do you know that you are really okay with what is happening?

Often times survivors will learn to dissociate from what is happening as a survival skill. When the brain cannot cope, it protects you until you can later process and heal from what happened.

But what about those who have had to dissociate to survive so often that being present is too much to handle even now that they are safe?

That is what I am trying to learn now.

Being sexualized in violence has shaped the entirety of my love life. I have realized that I lack boundaries. They were taken away from me when I was sexually assaulted as a child.

So I am now taking steps to change that.

I am learning to check in with my body, and to get consent from my body, and not just my mind. Most of the time I lack awareness that my body even exists, so this is something completely new to me. It feels very… strange… to have to ask my body permission something that my mind has decided it wants to do.

But –

doing so, I know, will mean the difference between something meaningless and base, and the potential for making a real connection as I will be fully present.

I have yet to learn how to communicate that need to be present in an intimate situation. Open communication means having to trust someone else. I have trouble with that on the best of days. The people I do trust, however, have proven themselves to me by being constant, by proving their words with their actions, and by letting me take my time to come to the conclusion that I trust them.

I have learned that when I begin to feel the cyclical disgust towards men (usually around this time of year), and shame towards myself (ditto), it is not a good time to be acting out sexually. Doing so will only further dissociate me from myself, as well as cause real depression (right now it is just a mild case of the blues), and put me at risk of other self-destructive behaviour.

Checking in with myself, and making sure my actions are those of a fully cognizant mind and body will prevent a lot of psychological devastation, and will go far in helping me create the love life I never had, but wished I could find for myself.


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