Verbal Abuse and Sex: A Negative and Lasting Impact
Sexual verbal abuse can have a lasting impact on your relationship. When verbal abuse occurs in a mostly healthy relationship, it can be hard to catch. This can be especially true when it interferes with your sexual experiences with your partner--sex is supposed to connect you, to be positive, and create unique trust between partners, and when verbal abuse finds its way into sex, it can be difficult to heal from.
What Verbal Abuse About Sex Looked Like for Me
In the beginning, we had a great relationship. After dating seriously for about five months, I thought our sex life was really positive and I felt comfortable enough with my partner at this point to say that to him. Rather than receiving affirmation or agreement, though, I felt some distance and hesitance from him. He prompted me to keep asking what was wrong by staying quiet and finally admitted that this was not his best sexual relationship. He explained that this was because of a number of factors, including that she was thinner, more attractive, and had multiple orgasms each time they had sex.
To receive this response from someone who I loved, and who I had just spent some vulnerable currency on, was devastating. I felt embarrassed. I immediately didn't feel safe enough to engage in a sexual partnership with him for a long time after that. However, it was confusing because I knew we cared about each other and had come this far in our relationship. I honestly didn't know what to do.
My partner saw how this conversation impacted me and was quick to console me and try to make me understand that he felt that way because he had a long history with that previous partner and we didn't have that sexual chemistry because we hadn't been together long enough yet. He told me he loved me, that it didn't change our relationship. However, it changed everything for me, sexually, for the rest of our relationship, and even beyond that.
How Conversations About Sex Can Be Verbally Abusive
The conversation I had with my partner affected so many parts of my life. I've always had problems with confidence, and that tore down whatever I had worked to build up in the last couple of years of my life. I was dumbfounded. I didn't know that would have been a valid reason to leave him, so I stayed and I was miserable. I found myself altering what I did to try fitting the profile of his previous partner so that I could satisfy him sexually. I was obsessed with enhancing my body, my orgasms, and my sexual performance. It completely corrupted my sexual experience for three years, and my perspective on sex for much longer than that.
The conversation became verbally abusive when he became withdrawn and essentially watched me become anxious, waiting for me to give him more attention and plead to know what was wrong rather than vocalizing himself. This, I believe, is a reflection of his narcissistic personality, which involves a constant need for attention and use of manipulation to get it.
The second component that made this verbally abusive was the setting of how this was brought up. He used the moment where I was vulnerable and sharing a positive comment to address something negative. Honest conversations about your sexual partnership are completely appropriate if there are issues that need to be addressed, and talking about this at a separate time to go over any legitimate concerns would have been a healthier way to approach this.
The last part of my verbally abusive sexual experience was that rather than using honest, constructive language, my partner put me down to get his point across. He put me side-by-side with his previous partner and compared me to her, with no positives in my favor. That shattered my confidence concerning sexual performance.
Next Steps After Sexual Verbal Abuse
Embarrassingly, for the remainder of our relationship, I continued to maintain a facade throughout our sexual relationship and completely missed out on the authentic connection that sex should produce in a partnership. It became part of the reality between us, and our relationship lived on. I didn't share this conversation with my friends until much later because I was ashamed, and I think this was the first internal red flag that I should have paid attention to.
After the relationship ended, I had a really hard time appreciating sex as an emotional connection because I had reconditioned myself to operate without that. However, looking back now, I wish I had had the confidence to have ended the relationship that day. Healthy conversations can be hard and they can hurt your feelings, but your instinct knows when that crosses the line of verbal abuse, and I should have listened to that feeling.
Despite having been scarred by the emotional verbal abuse that spiraled from this one conversation, I don't regret having the experience the way I did. I learned a lot about myself, like how to gain confidence after it's basically nonexistent and what I am allowed to ask for from a partnership, and without the experience of looking back and feeling frustrated that I didn't do more to stand up for myself, I may have never learned those things.
I hope that whatever experiences you have gone through, you listen to your gut feeling and ask people you trust about whether they think these conversations are healthy or verbally abusive.
Have you experienced sexual verbal abuse? How have you dealt with the aftermath?
Brinkley , K. (2019, November 14). Verbal Abuse and Sex: A Negative and Lasting Impact, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2019/11/verbal-abuse-and-sex-a-negative-and-lasting-impact