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I Can’t Have Sex Because of Trauma, but That Doesn’t Make Me a ‘Prude’

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Let’s cut to the chase: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has made my sex life difficult to navigate. I’m a 23-year-old female in a great relationship, but I’m not having sex. I’m at the stage where my body is primed for sex and hormones are flying around like blind birds. Is that even a saying? It is now!

• What is PTSD?

My PTSD stems from sexual trauma in previous relationships where I wasn’t totally in it. Relate?

I was there physically, but not mentally — I would dissociate and not remember what happened during the acts themselves. And in these abusive relationships, we didn’t even have sex, though that doesn’t matter; what happened still wasn’t OK. Remember, you don’t have to go “all the way” for it not to be OK. We didn’t have sex because my trauma signals were flashing red, and I froze. My partner wouldn’t get mad, just concerned.

No one has actually called me this to my face, but I worry that friends call me a “prude” behind my back. I know they aren’t, but that’s my insecurity. I feel that way because I’m 23, in a relationship, and not having sex. But I also need to remember I have PTSD, and I need my space. The cool thing is that I have values like everyone else, and I’ve found a great guy who respects my boundaries. I’m not saying I’ll be a virgin forever; I’m just saying that at this time, my PTSD has created walls I’m working on breaking down.

So, what’s the solution? For me, it’s the following:

1. Open communication with my boyfriend.

It’s important to be able to tell my significant other how I feel. I can’t be sexual without him knowing the real me.

2. An amazing trauma therapist.

I have a professional who I can tell everything: the good, the bad, the ugly and the awkward. We are working on tearing down those walls.

3. A group of friends.

I have peers who support me and my values. Having a group of friends who I can talk to about sex is key.

4. My journal.

There are some things I need to process on my own.

5. A physical outlet or distraction.

For me, that’s either running or painting. Sometimes, I need to get those hormones in check, and that’s a great place to start.

I’m not a prude. I am managing my PTSD the best I can and, right now, sex isn’t on the table. And that’s OK. I don’t have to go all the way to be OK. I have learned I can go slow and not beat myself up about it. It’s about me and my partner and what works for us — not anyone else.

Stay true to you!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Originally published: March 12, 2020
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