A part of me is curious about sex but the other is repulsed by it. Why does this happen to me? Is there a way I can stop these intrusive thoughts?
When I was 5 I saw my mother having sex with someone and it traumatized me, later when I was 9 I found out my father had sexually abused my older sister when she was 9. As it wasn’t enough, a few years later I found out that my mother had been sexually abused when she was a kid and until she was 15 years old. All these things made me progressively starting hating sex; I think it’s gross, selfish and overvalued. However, I have noticed that recently I started feeling curious about it. My mind would make intrusive thoughts about having sex and my body would react. I feel so disgusted when this happens but something inside me doesn’t and that makes me feel divided in two. A part of me is curious about sex but the other is repulsed by it. Why does this happen to me? Is there a way I can stop these intrusive thoughts?
Hi there and welcome to Ask Alex,
Thank you for reaching out, we know it is not easy to talk about big worries such as the one you are sharing with us today.
From your message we can see you have experienced primary and secondary trauma stress. The first one, would be regarding your personal experience, knowing about an important figure in your life, your father, wasn’t who you thought he was and hurt your mum and sister. The second one, would be the stress of someone else’s traumatic experience, and the effects of the abuse on people you love. That all sounds very hard and we are very sorry you are going through this. We will try to support you as much as we can.
At the same time, your body is starting to feel aroused and interested in how sex would feel. That is natural and expectable, as our bodies go through certain changes during puberty and adolescence and adjusting to body changes and hormones can be difficult and confusing. The adult hormones oestrogen and testosterone are signals that your body is giving you new responsibilities, like the ability to create a child. That’s why it’s important to get all your questions answered. It’s easy to feel embarrassed or anxious when talking about sex, but you need to be sure you have all the right information. At the same time all this is happening, it seems your previous experience regarding sex is in the way and is making you feel bad and uncomfortable about it. It makes sense. Let’s talk about it.
Intimate relationships are a powerful force that can be beautiful and unifying, ugly and destructive, and all ranges in between. Intimacy is a feeling of emotional connectedness, acceptance, belonging, understanding and friendship. Being sexually healthy means being able to comfortably discuss your feelings and values, initiate sex or say no to sex, enjoy sexual expression, arousal, and orgasm without fear, guilt or shame. When sex does not reflect respect and consent, we talk about sexual abuse, and we talk about child sexual abuse when any kind of sexual activity is performed on a child or in the presence of a child. The fact people as close to you as your mum and your sister have experienced sexual abuse can make you more wary about sex, distrust intimacy, or as you explained, make you see sex as something disgusting. It is understandable if what you have experienced so far in relation to sex are different shapes of sexual abuse.
In the right circumstances, sex means consented and pleasant touch, it means enjoying the intimacy with that other person with whom you choose to have this experience, it is a feeling of closeness and wellbeing.
Given that sexual abuse involves unwanted sexual contact or inappropriate exposure, sex and sexually intimate relationships can easily become a place where difficulties might appear.
An experience of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault can impact on sexual relationships in certain ways such as having increased confusion during sexual and emotional intimacy.
Although, an experience of sexual abuse does not automatically mean that sex, sexual intimacy and sexual enjoyment will be difficult. If you find any of these difficulties appearing when trying to get intimate when someone, it is important that you reach out to someone you trust and even find professional help to guide you through it and support you.
If you feel you need someone to talk to about this, remember Childline is here for you 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. You can call us on 1800 666 666, text us by messaging the word TALK to 50101, or chat to us on www.childline.ie.
We hope this helped, and that you reach out again if you need it.