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Regaining Your Sexuality After Rape

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The impact of rape should never be minimized, but after time, you do need to get on with life, and part of this is getting in touch with your sexuality. This is a very important area in healing, as negative self-images, lack of self-worth, and a disregard for your sexuality, are all common feelings after abuse. This contributes to a very unhealthy way of living, whether you are experiencing symptoms of frigidness or have gone the other way towards promiscuity (nearly 70% of all street walkers have been abused). So what can you do?

The first and most important step is actually in your mind. The twelve-step programs and other similar programs have a saying that broadly reads: "give me the courage to make the changes I need to in my life, the strength to accept what I can not change, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Well as much as I would love to tell you you can, you cannot change what has already happened. What is important now is how you deal with it.

In the case of rape, we can hope that the trauma has not left you with any physical scars. It is important, whether you have reported the rape or not, to see a doctor for an STD check. Many STDs such as Chlamydia, can remain undetected in your system for months and cause irreparable damage to your reproductive system. In some cases, a pregnancy can result. I can't offer any advice here. What you choose to do in this situation, should be exactly that, your decision. My thoughts would be with you

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whatever you decided to do. But let us hope that you are STD-free, that you are not pregnant, but you are still alive.

Chances are your sex life is still going to be a part of your life, no matter how you might be feeling at this moment. And it should be. Making love is one of the most expressive ways of showing your feelings towards your partner. It would be lovely if it could continue to be so for you.

Unfortunately, even if you have got your mind around the trauma, your body has a memory of its own. Many women report having episodes where they involuntarily cringe when a loved one touches them and many more report problems when actually having intercourse. Vaginal dryness, a muscle tensing, or the impression of leaving one's body during sex are all common for somebody who been sexually abused. It is going to take time to get past all of this and an extremely patient partner.

Rape survivor shares personal story, importance of dealing with negative self-images and regaining your sexuality after rape.If you were not in a relationship at the time of the rape, you will have taken the time to rebuild your self-confidence in other areas for awhile, and probably not even thought about dating. Sooner or later though, it will happen. What you will find is you will be careful about who you date (keeping yourself safe is important at all times) and be careful about getting yourself into situations which could lead to your being pressured into doing things you are not ready for.

You may be wrestling with the dilemma of should you tell your new partner about the rape or not. This will depend on the depth of your relationship and how he appears to you. If you are planning to have an intimate relationship with this person, you are going to have to feel as safe as you ever could be and that does take time.

It would probably pay to tell him. A good partner will understand and be both helpful and patient. What you can do is learn to accept non-sexual contact from him. Cuddles and hand-holding may seem a little lame, but they help you to build up your trust in him. Kissing and more will happen as you feel comfortable.

Do not under any circumstances stay with a man who is pressuring you to go any further, intimately, than you feel happy with. It will not work for you, no matter how great he is in other areas.

Later on, massage is an excellent technique for encouraging touch, without necessarily being sexual. It is quite an intimate expression of feelings and him massaging you will benefit you as in helping you relax in intimate surroundings. You will also gain confidence in yourself, giving him pleasure through a massage. You will know when you are ready to go further, it will happen.

By yourself, another thing you can do is learn to love your own body. Many women experience self-loathing of their own body image, with or without abuse. This can lead to eating disorders and many other problems. Learn to appreciate your own body, naked. See it for what it truly is, a magnificent casing for your awesome spirit. Be comfortable in touching yourself and keep yourself healthy and clean. Larger women can give the illusion of being magnificent sexual creatures because they are comfortable with who they are ( I speak from experience). Don't put your body down or ever blame the way you look for what has happened - it was not your fault.

Love your body, warts and all. It does marvelous things for your self-confidence. If somebody else criticizes the way you look, your body shape, or anything else like that, then they have the problem. Do not make it yours.

Making love, having sex, being intimate. Whatever you call it, it can be a wonderful thing. Don't let rape rob you of the chance to have genuine happiness in your life. Choose to reclaim your sexuality, without abusing it yourself, and move on with your life. Be happy, take time to love yourself, stay safe.

Lisa is a rape survivor who shares what she's learned from her experiences.

next: Positive Sex Play for Sexual Abuse Survivors