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She Takes A Peep: Sexual Interaction as a Survivor of Sexual Assault.

This week, Chiamaka gives a couple of tips on how survivors of sexual assault can enjoy consensual sexual interaction again.

Experiencing sexual assault, in any form, changes a person’s feelings about their body and sexual interaction in general. Often, the effect or weight of the assault does not occur at the instance it happens, but much later, sometimes maybe even during a consensual sexual experience. As survivors, we may either feel responsible for the attack; that we were negligent, dressed too provocatively or form any other excuse as to why it happened. The effects of assault are different for every person, but one effect that is common is the anxiety that people may feel when they are being touched afterwards. Although it presents itself differently ー sometimes as self-consciousness and other times as questioning your responses or your partners’ intentions for you ー it is important that as survivors, we are vocal about our feelings even while attempting to process things gradually.

There are a few tips, all of which I’ve personally tried, that could assist survivors to enjoy sexual interaction after a traumatic sexual experience. The first is to communicate clearly to your partner why you do not want to be touched in a certain way. For example, instead of simply telling your partner you do not want to be touched on your nipples, even though it's an erogenous zone, it’s more advisable to communicate that you do not want to be touched there because you still have anxiety from being groped by an abuser. This way, your partner knows that that part of your body is off-limits, rather than trying their hand at pleasuring you there if they simply believe it has not been an erogenous zone. Clear, direct boundaries are super beneficial for both parties. This way, they also spend time pleasuring the places that you prefer to be touched, rather than worrying that you are somehow missing out on the fun of nipple play because you have not had it done properly.

Another tip is to use mirrors when having sexual interaction if the survivor is in the habit of dissociating and shifting to a dark place during sexual interaction. The use of mirrors during physical contact grounds the survivor into their body and the place that they are. Also, you get to see your partner's face and expression clearly, which displaces bad experiences from sneaking in and ruining the moment. Sex toys and other fun bedroom additions can also be very grounding for survivors, as they have sounds and rhythm. Relaxing music is also a very good tip, as music that the survivor finds comforting makes for a good addition to the interaction.

All in all, a partner who allows you to feel safe and welcome is the best tip to enjoying sexual interaction as a survivor of sexual assault. At the survivors’ discretion, they may choose to forego casual sex as a result. Anything that helps you to enjoy sexual interaction rather than run from it is to be freely put into practice. This way, you are getting the best out of sexual activity rather than having horrible experiences pile up.

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