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  • Clarke Rose

LETTING GO OF SEXUAL & SOCIETAL TRAUMA & CANCELLING "SEX DRIVE."



TW: I will be telling *one* of my sexual assault stories. If you don't want to read it, skip down to where the text is black again.


I was 18. I had just started my freshman year at the University of San Francisco. Drinking was new to me, and in my American Drinking Ignorance I got a bottle of Bacardi and drank it with no chaser. I must have been 51 kilos/110 pounds at the time. Or around that. Two friends with much more drinking experience were with me and didn't realise that that amount of alcohol was going to really fuck me up. Somehow I got separated from them in the evening and wandered up to a random car, that was stopped at a stoplight. I went up to it and said through the open window, "Anyone in here want to hook up with me?"


A man must have said yes, and he got out of the car. At this point I was very very drunk and the rest is fuzzy and hard for me to fully remember because I was not so conscious. But I know he took me down the street, put me up against a street lamp and put his hand in my underwear. He also tried to put my hand in his pants. This went on for awhile, I wasn't present. I wandered off to a restaurant my friends happened to be at, went in the bathroom and began to puke and cry; I had no idea who the man was.


One day, in my Buddhism class, he walked in and sat down. First it was a dark, sinking feeling, and then, I recognised him. Everything flooded back. I don't remember how I went about it but I confronted him, and he apologised. He said we could go report him if I wanted to. A couple days later he brought me an apology letter and some chocolate from See's Candies. We had a really constructive conversation around the whole event. I am not making excuses for him, but we were both drunk, both young, both had no education around consent, or even sex. He said he would do whatever I wanted and could help me with favours if I needed them. He would go get me water for my dorm and little things like that. He really wanted to learn, and because of that I really got to heal. And move on. I have experiences that didn't go like this. (and my healing process looked different--took longer). Particularly one that happened when I was twelve. And I know most assault stories don't look like this, but my moral of the story is this conversation, around consent, and alcohol and pleasure, should have happened before I was 18 with a bottle of bacardi in my hand.


The amount of time it takes to “let go” of sexual trauma varies. I also put “let go” in quotation marks because certain people can release the trauma and power of the event, but may not let it go completely for individual reasons. Certain things make getting over the trauma easier, like closure or even a conversation with the abuser when it’s possible and if it's safe, like in my experience. Not knowing your abuser, not getting an apology, justice not being served, the person who abused you not knowing what they did was even abuse, can possibly make things more difficult, depending on each individual situation.


The number one thing to know, to intrinsically know and to internalise as best you can, is that your abuser has absolutely no power over you. When assault happens you must know that YOU WERE NOT RESPONSIBLE AND YOU COULD NOT HAVE DONE MORE.


Not only do we grow up without any concept or education around pleasure and/or consensual sex, but we also do not have justice or political systems in place to protect victims, but rather in many cases to protect the abusers. The USA has a rapist president, there’s an example.


The second thing to do, is to write it out or tell someone about your experience. Reliving and surviving it is a huge way to heal. And sometimes we have to write it out ten times or tell multiple people about it or the same person more than once, but once you’re ready… whenever that is, you must not bury the experience but release it from your body through writing or speaking.


The third thing to do is to reclaim your body. This means self-pleasuring sessions that are long and maybe don’t involve orgasm. But check in with yourself and touch the parts of yourself that were touched, and/or the parts that carry tension, with loving, compassionate touch. Whisper “I’m sorry” “I love you” “You are healed” “You are perfect” “We are whole” to the parts of your body you are healing. Listen to calm music, light a candle, cry if needed, and touch your body all over with healing hands and loving touch.


If you have experienced internal trauma, it can be really helpful to see a pelvic health care specialist for internal massage and pelvic healing. Depending on who you go to, they may also be trained in moving energy and releasing trauma from that part of your body. More info here:

https://www.wildfeminine.com/contact/


Those are three beginning steps but no three steps are going to be perfect for everyone. Sometimes, people will require talk therapy, but some don’t. An incredible amount of women have been assaulted. Many men, many people, are victims of sexual assault. There is something wrong with the culture, with the language that allows this to happen, it is NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER the victim's fault.


“Sex drive” is a big part of it. Doctors and sexuality educators are still using the term “sex drive” even though we know that sex is not a drive but an incentive motivation system. Hunger is a drive. Thirst is a drive. Not sex. We get hungry because we need to eat or we’ll die. Same with thirst, and water. We get aroused, but if we don’t have sex, we won’t die, in fact, we’ll be just fine. Men have used this excuse for ages to justify their sexual assault against women. “Well she teased me” “She wore a short skirt” “She made me hard.” These sentences allude that their level of horniness was a drive, and that they needed sex or they would die/be in extreme pain “blue balls” so of course, the assault was women’s fault. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Sex is not a drive. The words sex drive are actually dangerous and often used to shame women and their fluctuating libido. That by the way, men also have. Instead of “sex drive” let’s practice saying “sexual desire” or “libido.”


Another issue I want to briefly touch on is a term I have coined: sexual societal trauma. Sexual societal trauma is the misogynistic microaggressive everyday images, phrases, media and commonplace conversations that we internalize throughout our lives, which build/grow/fester inside of us whorephobic and slut-shaming tendencies, sexual shame, hatred towards women, objectification of bodies and ultimately sexual trauma in our bodies, minds, lives, and sexualities. One can never have experienced *explicit sexual assault* but can be, and probably is, a victim of sexual societal trauma.


To move past societal sexual trauma you should take the same steps as to heal from other forms of sexual assault, but it may be more difficult for you to truly and deeply acknowledge what microaggressions in your life have been forms of sexual societal trauma.


I will give some examples of sexual societal trauma:

-objectifying billboards/ads

-hearing men around you objectifying a women/anyone

-tv shows that make light of sexual assault

-a sexualised rape scene on tv

-sex education that ONLY teaches about sti’s/condoms/male ejaculation

-an episode of how i met your mother: a couple goes to the doctor and there is the anatomical structure of a vulva in the room and the male goes, “Whats that button on top do?” or something like that. This was PUNCHLINE. The couple had been together for ten years and he didn’t know where the clit was? This was supposed to be funny? Ignoring the primary sexual organ of a woman is a joke?

-seeing women being pushed out of hollywood/news/representation as they age

-having donald trump, a rapist who is publicly known for being a rapist and saying “just grab women by the pussy,” as the president of the USA. 

-big sexual assault cases where the abuser is not convicted, and perhaps even still held in high regard (example: Brett Kavanaugh) When you google him and click on the suggested tab “What is Brett Kavanaugh known for?” It says: EXCEPTIONALLY QUALIFIED: Judge Kavanaugh's extensive experience and credentials make him one of the most exceptionally qualified Supreme Court nominees in history. ... He has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, often called the Nation's “second highest court,” for more than 12 years.  NOT THAT HE WAS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ASSAULT BY CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD IN A HIGHLY PUBLIC CASE AND THE ACCUSATION WAS IGNORED THE TRIAL WAS DISMISSED AND HE WAS PLACED IN THE SUPREME COURT. 


This is just a starting list. But I challenge you to think about what things in your life you would consider sexual societal trauma. Societal sexual trauma happens to all genders. Remembering these events and unpacking them for what they really are is a huge part of releasing sexual shame and coming into our freest sexual selves.


Most of what we’ve been told, and what we’ve seen about sex, is a lie. Sex is more than penetration, or a hot porn scene. And sex is largely enhanced by feelings of trust and safety. Feelings which may be hard to come by if you’ve experienced sexual assault or sexual societal trauma. 


I hope this piece helps you identify situations in your life that were abusive, allowing you to release them from your body, and build newer, healthier foundations for your sexuality. You deserve it. 


If you would like further support, do not hesitate to reach out to me. 

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