Sex after sexual abuse: what's it like? Sexual abuse has a huge impact on my sex life. After two instances of sexual abuse, I felt that my sexuality no longer belonged to me. Twice my body was treated as an object to be used by my abusers as they saw fit, first during my childhood at the hands of a family member, then later by a stranger on a train. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I accepted that my sexuality belonged to the men I slept with and not to me. It took me a long time to confront this truth about the impact of sexual abuse on my sex life, and I still haven't deconstructed the many ways that these instances of abuse eventually brought me to my experiences with sex now. I decided to use this blog as a place to explore this.
My relationship with sex after trauma hasn't been a good one. You see, when I was 16, I got drunk at a concert. On the train ride home, I drifted off. When I woke up, a stranger's hand was in my underwear. I pushed his hand away and he sped into the next train car. My reaction was a feeling of shame; I blamed myself for the sexual assault. I shouldn't have gotten drunk; I shouldn't have worn a skirt; I should have been more responsible. With the support of my parents, I eventually reported the incident, but the shame remained.
There are several effects selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might have on your relationships. Here are three common ways an SSRI might affect your romantic relationships.
The symptoms of my sexual assault affect my relationships by cropping up in unexpected ways, years after the traumatic event. As I slowly came to terms with what happened to me, these symptoms began to interfere with my romantic relationships in a variety of ways, both subtle and overt. I tried to navigate these symptoms of sexual assault and the further I strived to avoid them, the further they popped up unexpectedly and uninvited. Over the years, I have discovered that there are several things that my partner and I can do to help ease my mind and work towards understanding the aftermath of my assault.
It's good for me to self-disclose about my mental illnesses earlier in relationships rather than later. You see, when I received my diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder and began taking antidepressants in middle school, I felt my identity shift. Finally, I had a name and a treatment for the frustrating and complicated symptoms I had experienced since I could first walk and talk. For so long, my identity and mental health were inextricably intertwined, and they still are.
Sex serves many positive functions in a relationship, but you may choose abstinence during bipolar recovery anyway. Sex can bring people to a new level of intimacy, it can provide a physical stress release, or it can simply be about expressing a mutual sexual desire (What Is Healthy Sex?). In spite of these functions, sex can be damaging at times, particularly at various stages of bipolar disorder. Choosing abstinence during bipolar recovery can be a way to remove a trigger from your emotional life.
Some people are anxious when starting a new relationship during mental illness recovery. They may wonder when they will be healthy enough to consider a new romantic relationship or even a first date. But there can be behavioral clues that tell you when its healthy for you to start a new relationship during mental illness recovery. I have experienced some of these during my recovery from various depressive episodes.
In my last video post, Emotion Regulation and Dating with Bipolar Disorder, I talked about what I thought was a burgeoning relationship or something with Erik. Well, that something has become a nothing and I'm crushed. Not because I was in love with him or anything, but because in spite of my new-found emotional health I ended up where I've generally been: alone.
Many people aren't good at relationships, particularly at the beginning. What might be a time of excitement and optimism for the average person can turn to anxiety and depression for someone with bipolar. In this blog post, I compare the feelings I experience during the beginning of a relationship - in this case, with Erik, a new love interest - with the mood fluctuations of bipolar disorder.
Everyone has a story about a couple they know who've argued openly on Facebook. Or the person who was ostracized by their followers on Twitter. Online social networks can bring out the worst in public behavior for some people, spurred on by anonymity and groupthink. The average person might be plagued by the public nature of social networks. However, when you have a mental illness, particularly one with a component of anxiety, tools like Twitter and Facebook can become breeding grounds for obsessive behavior.