How Sexual Assault Survivors Are Redefining Pleasurable Sex

Some survivors are learning to move past their trauma by asserting their needs

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

One of Julie’s partners noticed that her eyes went blank while they were intimate, and stopped the interaction immediately. He told her, “don’t ever continue to do something with me if you’re not actively enjoying it.”

For survivors, one of the most difficult obstacles to sex is staying grounded in the present and in the body. Staying present can be terrifying, since it means feeling whatever comes up — good or bad. Eventually, however, being able to avoid checking out or “performing” for their partner can allow survivors — and all of us — to refocus the experience on pleasure.

I’m working on a book about sex after sexual assault, and a memoir about the year I got the plague bacteria. Work in NYT, The Lily, BuzzFeed, Wa Po, etc.

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