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Relationship

My life in sex: the woman in recovery from sexual abuse


Beginning with my rape at 14, sex has been a disturbing, sometimes violent and always unfulfilling experience. To the outside world, I have it together: a solid job I am good at, a caring ex-partner and two beautiful children. Yet, all my attempts at intimacy have been fraught with shame, secrecy and a lack of authenticity.

Most recently, I reconnected with an older man I met four years ago. I rebuffed his advances first time round; for reasons I am still unsure of, I pursued him this time. I thought the disclosure of my vulnerability and my history of abuse would ensure he would treat me respectfully and with care. I was wrong. The sex felt forceful and, during oral intercourse, I became so distressed that my bladder, weakened by childbirth, lost control and I wet the bed.

A week after our night together, he stopped initiating contact. Though my rational mind understands how unhealthy the experience was, the feeling of abandonment is strong.

What makes it worse is that, to my deep dismay, this is a pattern I keep repeating, seemingly ad infinitum. It is as though the abuse I experienced as a child has trapped me in this pattern I unwillingly recreate to my own detriment. I desperately want a fulfilling, safe, loving and intimate relationship. I would like to experience an orgasm with someone, something I have never achieved. My experience shows how difficult it is to recover from childhood abuse. I fear that I will never find what I am longing for.

Each week, a reader tells us about their sex life. Want to share yours? Email sex@theguardian.com



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