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When Sex Is Love

“If you were abused, maybe you grew up believing you agreed to it or were even responsible for it. Maybe your abuser said you wanted it.

It was easy for her to conclude this if you needed love and affection. In fact, in order to get what feels like love, you may have been willing to engage in sex. You may have believed that sex is love.”

Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse

~ by Richard B. Gartner Ph.D.

This quote reminds me of my ex-husband. He was a classic narcissist, but under that he was a very damaged little boy. Sex was love to him. He never understood intimacy.

I ‘know’ he was sexually abused as a young child by his father. He doesn’t know it, it’s stored somewhere very deep in an attempt for him to survive and forget. Tragic.

SG x

 

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The Psychology of Stress, Orgasm, and Creativity

Irina Vitalievna Karkabi 1960 | Ukrainian Figurative painter:

by Maria Popova

“To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.”

“The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy,’” philosopher Alain de Botton argued in his meditation on sex, “the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human being who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” But in his attempt to counter the reductionism that frames human sexuality as a mere physiological phenomenon driven solely by our evolutionary biology, de Botton overcompensates by reducing in the opposite direction, negating the complex interplay of brain and biology, psychology and physiology, that propels the human sexual experience. That’s precisely what Naomi Wolf, author of the 1991 cultural classic The Beauty Myth, examines in Vagina: A New Biography (public library) — a fascinating exploration of the science behind the vastly misunderstood mind-body connection between brain and genitalia, consciousness and sexuality, the poetic and the scientific. What emerges is a revelation of how profoundly a woman’s bodily experience influences nearly every aspect of life, from stress to creativity, through the intricate machinery that links biology and beingness.

Wolf writes:

“Female sexual pleasure, rightly understood, is not just about sexuality, or just about pleasure. It serves, also, as a medium of female self-knowledge and hopefulness; female creativity and courage; female focus and initiative; female bliss and transcendence; and as medium of a sensibility that feels very much like freedom. To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.

[…]

Once one understands what scientists at the most advanced laboratories and clinics around the world are confirming — that the vagina and the brain are essentially one network, or “one whole system,” as they tend to put it, and that the vagina mediates female confidence, creativity, and sense of transcendence — the answers to many of these seeming mysteries fall into place.”

Handcrafted vagina embroidery by artist Kira Scarlet

A pivotal player in this mediation is the female pelvic nerve — a sort of information superhighway that branches out from the base of the spinal cord to the cervix, connecting the latter to the brain and thus controlling much of sexual response. But this information superhighway is really more like a superlabyrinth, the architecture of which differs enormously from one woman to another, and is completely unique for each one. This diversity of wiring in the highly complex female pelvic neural network helps explain why women have wildly different triggers for orgasm. (By contrast, the male pelvic neural network is significantly simpler, consisting of comparatively regular neural pathways arranged neatly in a grid that surrounds the penis in a circle of pleasure.) This biological reality, Wolf points out, clashes jarringly with the dominant culturally constructed fantasy of how sexual intercourse is supposed to proceed:

The pornographic model of intercourse — even our culture’s conventional model of intercourse, which is quick, goal-oriented, linear, and focused on stimulation of perhaps one or two areas of a woman’s body — is just not going to do it for many women, or at least not in a very profound way, because it involves such a superficial part of the potential of women’s neurological sexual response systems.

Another key component of sexual experience is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) — the puppeteer of arousal, controlling all smooth muscle contractions and affecting the body’s response beyond conscious control. It encompasses both the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions, and ensures they work in unison. Because arousal precedes orgasm, the ANS first needs to do its own work before the complex pelvic neural network can work its own magic.

Wolf writes:

“For women, sexual response involves entering an altered state of consciousness. … In women, the biology of arousal is more delicate than most of us understand, and it depends significantly on this sensitive, magical, slowly calmed, and easily inhibited system.”

To be sure, Wolf reminds us that it’s not at all uncommon for women to have a physiological response during rape, despite the enormous psychological pain and stress of the assault, but this response is not the same as the transcendent, dimensional orgasm that takes place when brain and body work in harmonious bliss. This also holds true in sexual situations that aren’t as violent as rape but still assault the ANS in one way or another:

If a woman’s ANS response is ignored, she can have intercourse and even climax; but she won’t necessarily feel released, transported, fulfilled, or in love, because only a superficial part of her capacity to respond has been made love to, or engaged.

In fact, the most fascinating aspect of the ANS, absolutely critical yet poorly understood, is that it is profoundly impacted by the mental landscape, steering the immutable interdependence between brain and vagina. The ANS, which serves as the translator between the psychological and the physiological, is thus particularly vulnerable to what psychologists call “bad stress.” (By contrast, the “good stress” many women experience in exciting or mock-dangerous sexual scenarios which they still control can be compelling and pleasurable.) “Bad stress” stems from the perceived lack of safety, and the presence of safety is absolutely essential to catapulting the female brain into the kind of “high” orgasm that is only possible in this disinhibited trance state. Wolf explains:

This biological, evolutionary connection for women of possible ecstasy to emotional security has implications that cannot be overstressed. Relaxing allows for female arousal.

Just as being valued and relaxed can heighten female sexual response, “bad stress” can dramatically interfere with all of women’s sexual processes.

[…]

“Bad stress,” researchers have now abundantly confirmed, has exactly the same kind of negative effect on female arousal and on the vagina itself. When a woman feels threatened or unsafe, the sympathetic nervous system — the parasympathetic nervous system’s partner in the ANS — kicks in. This system regulates the “fight or flight” response: as adrenaline and catecholamines are released in the brain, nonessential systems such as digestion and, yes, sexual response, close down; circulation constricts, because the heart needs all the blood available to help the body run or fight; and the message to the body is “get me out of here.” Based on [research insights], we now know that threatening environment — which can include even vague verbal threats centered on the vagina or dismissive language about the vagina — can close down female sexual response.

This notion that biology conditions consciousness and vice versa, of course, isn’t new. But the research Wolf cites presents compelling evidence that “bad stress,” especially rape and early sexual trauma, can have profound biological effects:

There is growing, if still preliminary, evidence that rape and early sexual trauma can indeed “stay in the body” — even stay in the vagina — and change the body on the most intimate, systemic level. Recovery is possible, but treatment should be specialized. Rape and early sex abuse can indeed permanently change the working of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) — so crucial for female arousal; and, if she is not supported by the right treatment, it can permanently alter the way a woman breathes, the rate of her heart, her blood pressure, and her startle reaction, in a manner that is not under any conscious control.

Even more strikingly, some studies have found that elevated SNS activation is linked to a variety of health hazards seemingly unrelated to sexual trauma, including vertigo, motor control and balance issues, visual processing problems, and elevated startle response. In other words, sexual abuse alters the brain in a way that sabotages multiple body systems and damages healthy stress response. Wolf recapitulates the implications poignantly:

Understood in this way, and with this significant evidence, rape and sexual assault, with their attendant trauma, should be understood not just as a form of forced sex; they should also be understood as a form of injury to the brain and body, and even as a variant of castration.

Demonstrating just how strong the connection between mind and body is, Korean researchers discovered that stress and sexual trauma actually affect, on a biological level, the very functioning of the vagina. Studying female rats, they found that “chronic physical stress modifies [sexual behavior] through a mechanism believed to involve complex changes in sex hormones, endocrine factors, and neurotransmitters.” What’s more, they were able to identify the precise biological mechanism responsible for this deep-seated interplay:

Evidently nitric oxide (NO) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) play important roles in vaginal and clitoral engorgement — helping the smooth muscle of the vagina relax and the vaginal tissues swell in preparation for arousal and orgasm — and these chemicals and their actions are inhibited when females are negatively stressed.

The researchers found that the stressed-out female rats were less receptive and more hostile to their male partners, displaying measurable aggression and irritability, and ultimately refusing to copulate. Stress, it turns out, diminished the female rats’ ability to reach arousal by greatly impairing their genital blood flow. The scientists concluded:

In animal model studies, mental or physical stress increases the level of serum catecholamines, thereby causing vascular contraction, which in turn reduces blood flow and leads to sexual dysfunction. . . . Since stress is concomitant with an increased output of catecholamines in blood . . . it is reasonable to assume that blood flow to the genital organs reduces during periods of stress. . . . [W]e measured norepinephrine as an indirect index of catecholamine level and found that it increased in the stress group and decreased in the recovery group. This result indirectly supports the suggestion that stress affects female genital blood flow.

Most ominous of all was the projection that if such stress levels were sustained over time, the physiological changes they cause would eventually affect the vaginal tissue itself. Indeed, researchers tested those tissues after the female rats were dead and found “biologically measurable changes.”

Women, of course, are not rats, but this only means that the effects of such stress are even more profound. Wolf argues that besides impairing women’s ability to reach orgasm, “bad stress” also affects the overall capacity for joy, hopefulness, and creativity. Unlike rats, humans are also susceptible to forms of abuse beyond the physical — Wolf cites the tragically prevalent cultural tendency to deride the vagina and its owner, embedded even in the slang we have for female genitalia. She writes:

The role of manipulating female stress in targeting the vagina should not be ignored. This behavior—ridiculing the vagina—makes perfect instinctive sense. These acts are often impersonal and tactical—strategies for directing a kind of pressure at women that is not consciously understood but may be widely intuited, and even survive in folk memory, as eliciting a wider neuropsychological “bad stress” response that actually debilitates women.

She cites one particularly unsettling example:

In 2010, male Yale students gathered at a “Take Back the Night” event, where their female classmates were marching in a group, protesting against sexual assault. The young men chanted at the protesters, “No means yes and yes means anal.” Some of the young women brought a lawsuit against the university, arguing that tolerating such behavior created an unequal educational environment. Ethically they are in the right, and neurobiologically they are right as well. Almost all young women who face a group of their male peers chanting such slogans are likely to feel instinctively slightly panicked. On some level they are getting the message that they may be in the presence of would-be rapists — making it impossible to shrug off immature comments, as women are often asked to do. They sense there is a wider risk to them that is being threatened, and indeed there is, but it is not just the risk of sexual assault. If they are stressed regularly in this way, they will indeed depress the whole subtle and delicate network of neurobiological triggers and reactions that make them feel good, happy, competent, and as if they know themselves.

One study termed the complex and lasting effects of such stress, an increasingly recognizable medical pattern, “multisystem dysfunction” — and it can effect such a wide array of physical health issues as higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, hormonal imbalances, and fertility problems. But the most damaging consequences of these physical changes, Wolf argues, are cognitive and psychoemotional:

The female body reacts in the same way to “bad stress” whether the context is the birthing room or the university or the workplace. If the female brain senses that an environment is not safe, its stress response inhibits all the same organs and systems, regardless of setting. Many of the signals that either stoke or diminish female desire have to do with the female brain’s question: Is it safe for her?

So if a woman goes to work or to study in a sexually dangerous or threatening atmosphere day after day, she risks — because of the cumulative, long-term effect of that “bad stress” — having the letting-go, creative “relaxation response” inhibited even outside her work or school environment.

[…]

If you sexually stress a woman enough, over time, other parts of her life are likely to go awry; she will have difficulty relaxing in bed eventually, as well as in the classroom or in the office. This in turn will inhibit the dopamine boost she might otherwise receive, which would in turn prevent the release of the chemicals in her brain that otherwise would make her confident, creative, hopeful, focused — and effective, especially relevant if she is competing academically or professionally with you. With this dynamic in mind, the phrase “fuck her up” takes on new meaning.

[…]

The vagina responds to the sense of female safety, in that circulation expands, including to the vagina, when a woman feels she is safe; but the blood vessels to the vagina constrict when she feels threatened. This may happen before the woman consciously interprets her setting as threatening. So if you continually verbally threaten or demean the vagina in the university or in the workplace, you continually signal to the woman’s brain and body that she is not safe. “Bad” stress is daily raising her heart rate, pumping adrenaline through her system, circulating catecholamines, and so on. This verbal abuse actually makes it more difficult for her to attend to the professional or academic tasks before her.

Yet despite the compelling scientific evidence, the most moving and encompassing point Wolf makes is an anthropological one:

The way in which any given culture treats the vagina — whether with respect or disrespect, caringly or disparagingly — is a metaphor for how women in general in that place and time are treated.

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Wounded Attachment: Relationships of Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault

15 Brilliant Chuck Palahniuk Quotes

By Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers therapist in Houston, TX

The impact of childhood sexual assault has reverberating effects on almost every facet of survivors’ livelihood, from relationships with family, friends, partners, spouses, and children to their jobs, finances, faith, etc. It is as if sexual assault redefines one’s pattern of and trajectory in life.

Sexual assault is the act of forcing, enticing, intimidating, or coercing another person to engage in a sexual activity, from fondling to coitus, when the other person is unwilling or unable (as is the case of one who is underage, drugged, or unconscious). Imagine yourself as a child, seeing the world through a child’s eyes, and then being introduced to a violent act—an act that serves to not only damage one’s physical body and mental/cognitive mind-set, but also disrupt one’s spiritual being.

This one act for some—repeated acts of violence for others—does untold amounts of damage to one’s psyche. Yet the resilience I’ve witnessed from many who choose to live their lives after the violence is remarkable. Unfortunately, for many the damage is such that many are unaware of how it has skewed their way of looking at the world. This sometimes is displayed in the relationships subsequent to the sexual assault.

Far too often, survivors believe that once the assault ends, it is done and they don’t need to talk about it. Yet the choices made, the decisions not made, and the relationships that come afterward tell a different story. Wounded attachment is an insidious component that I have seen repeatedly in my work with adult survivors of childhood sexual assault. What is wounded attachment? It’s the unconscious way of being attracted or attached to someone or something that reminds the survivor of or reinforces the wound/trauma, or in this case the sexual assault. At its core, it’s the way in which survivors subconsciously seek out relationships that reinforce the wounded aspect of themselves.

Sometimes it is displayed in the choice of employment/work. For example, survivors may find themselves working at a job that belittles them, makes them feel worthless, or where they feel like they have to make everyone else happy at the expense of their own happiness, thereby reinforcing their wounded concept of self. Another example is when a survivor is continually engaged in romantic relationships that serve to reinforce the wounded parts of self.As a child, depending on when the assault occurred and the developmental stage in which it occurred, the person seeks to please the adult and gain affection, attention, nurturing, love, trust, etc. A child who has been sexually assaulted blurs that idea of love, nurturing, trust, attention, and affection, and begins to believe that the only way to receive love, attention, etc., is to please the “assaulter.” This remains in effect as the child matures into adulthood.

Although the assault is no longer occurring, if the child did not receive any type of counseling, intervention, or effective treatment to process and repair the damage to the mind, body, and psyche, then this adult is continuing to live out the wounds experienced as a child. As such, the adult becomes caught in a cycle of relationships that reinforce the wounded attachments. Awareness of this plays a crucial role in helping adult survivors of sexual assault move toward recovery, resiliency, and healing.

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Sexual Trauma and Shame

Survivors of sexual trauma tend to take on many levels of shame , believing they are what was done to them. Sexual abuse and trauma is something that happened to you, it’s not who you are.

SG x

How To Fold A Dollar Bill Origami Butterfly Paper Crafts | DIY Tag

by

There are many aspects of shame that can develop for a survivor of sexual trauma. A common false belief for survivors of sexual trauma is: “I am disgusting because what happened to me is disgusting.” Individuals who survive such a horrific violation can begin to take on and internalize what happened to them in a negative way. It is common for survivors of sexual trauma to confuse what was done to them with who they are as a person, and who they are sexually. Not only is this type of thinking false, but it’s also extremely emotionally and sexually damaging. Holding on to this belief even in the slightest would perpetuate a negative sexual self. Carrying such thinking would understandably negatively impact one’s comfort and interest in sex.

The abuse and the trauma is not you. It is not who you are at your core. It is something that happened to you. What happened to you, what someone else did is completely separate from your core self. Meaning, your thoughts, feelings, your love for those around you, your compassion for others is entirely separate. If you were bad because something bad was done to you, then every time something disgusting, bad, or upsetting that happened to you, your core would be defined and impacted by all of those moments, big and small. For example, have you ever found yourself soaking wet from dirty rain water because a car driving by went right through a huge puddle? Have you ever gotten dirty and hands filled with car grease from fixing a flat tire? Or for anyone who has cared for/raised children before, being peed or pooped on is inevitable. Do any of these situations make you who you are? Just like sexual abuse, these are all situations that happened to you. You did not ask for this. Take some time and process this information, and when you’re ready come back to this tip and try this exercise.

Go to the bank, or to your wallet, and take out a twenty dollar bill. Try your best to find a flat, crisp, and clean bill. Take this bill and do your worst physical damage to it. Crinkle it up into a ball, write on it, pour coffee on it, etc. Do your best and most creative damage to this twenty dollar bill without completely shredding it.  Even tear it a little, or stomp on it with the dirtiest pair of your shoes. Once you’ve done everything you can think of while keeping the bill in tact, take the bill and unfold it/flatten in and set it down or hold it out in front of you, and answer yes or no to this one question: After all of that abuse to the twenty dollar bill, how much is it now worth? Does it still hold of it’s worth? It’s still worth twenty dollars, even after all of the grit, grime, misuse of the bill, it is still intact and worth just as much as it always has been.

Only you can determine your worth, and it’s up to you to maintain your worth, regardless of what happens to you. If you are questioning your value and worth right now, wondering if you are damaged and disgusting, this is just your mind responding to the abuse you survived and trying to go through the process of working through the trauma. It’s up to you to remind yourself and your brain that any devaluing thoughts you may be having right now are all false beliefs in response to your trauma. These thoughts are not true, they are not reality. Some people have bruises or broken limbs after an accident. Consider this faulty thinking your “broken limb.” This is a side effect of the trauma you survived. If you continue to remind yourself of that, and continue to separate you from what happened to you, you will be on a better road toward emotional healing and recovery. Carry that beat up, dirty $20 bill around with you for a week, and take it out daily as a reminder. It helps to talk to someone who can help you organize and sort through some of these thoughts and emotions.

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Sexual Coercion In Relationships

Dynamics Of Abuse

Anna Kapustenko #Werewolf

One aspect of your life that you always have complete control over is how far you want to take it with your romantic partner, your significant other, your crush or even someone you’re just hooking up with. When it comes to anything physical, you absolutely have a voice and do not have to do anything you don’t want to do.

If someone makes you feel obligated or forced to do something you don’t want to, you may be experiencing coercion. By definition, sexual coercion is “the act of using pressure, alcohol or drugs, or force to have sexual contact with someone against his or her will” and includes “persistent attempts to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused.”

Think of sexual coercion as a spectrum or a range. It can vary from someone verbally egging you on to someone actually forcing you to have contact with them. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, your partner might:

  • Make you feel like you owe them — ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift, because you go home with them
  • Give you compliments that sound extreme or insincere as an attempt to get you to agree to something
  • Badger you, yell at you or hold you down
  • Give you drugs and alcohol to loosen up your inhibitions
  • Play on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me” or “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
  • React negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
  • Continue to pressure you after you say no
  • Make you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
  • Try to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a guy.”

In a relationship where sexual coercion is occurring, there is a lack of consent, and the coercive partner doesn’t respect the boundaries or wishes of the other. Let’s review what consent means:

  • Consent is not a “given.” Just because you’ve consented to an act before, doesn’t mean you’ve consented to it forever.  This idea also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic” in a new relationship.
  • Consent is not a free pass. Saying yes to one act doesn’t mean you have to consent to other acts. Each requires its own consent. For example, saying yes to oral sex doesn’t automatically mean you’re saying yes to intercourse.
  • Consent can be taken back at any time. Even if you’re in the middle of something, if you start feeling uncomfortable, you always have the right to stop.
  • It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say no. It’s not consent if you’re being manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or a partner is unable to legitimately give consent, which includes being asleep, unconscious, under the influence of conscious-altering substances or not able to understand what you’re saying yes to.
  • In a healthy relationship, giving and receiving consent is an ongoing process. Establish boundaries by discussing what things you and your partner are comfortable with and what things you may not feel comfortable with. Always ask first. Communication is key.
  • Be clear and direct with your partner if you don’t want to do something. Don’t be embarrassed to say that you don’t want to get physical. Be honest and make sure that you are heard. If the other person is not listening to you, leave the situation.

http://www.loveisrespect.org

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What’s Wrong With You?

You need to just snap out of it.. move on … forget about it … it’s over..

‘Traumatized’

Traumatized by intolerable cruelty

Traumatized by revictimization

Traumatized by lack of understanding from others

Traumatized by being judged instead of loved

Traumatized by being silenced

Traumatized by loss of a childhood

Traumatized by being neglected

Traumatized by being scapegoated

Traumatized by being overlooked/ ignored

Traumatized by lack of genuine care

Traumatized by childhood sexual abuse

Traumatized by childhood neglect

Traumatized by marital abuse

Traumatized by being isolated

Traumatized by being humiliated

Traumatized by the ongoing hypervigilance

Traumatized by dissociative episodes

Traumatized by knowing too much, seeing too much, feeling too much

Traumatized by being bullied

Traumatized be being undervalued

Traumatized by past memories

Traumatized by associated dreams and visions

Traumatized by being lied to

Traumatized by not being given the facts and truth of the past

Traumatized by the past

Traumatized by lack of concern

Traumatized by lack of help

Traumatized by being considered weak

Traumatized by being ostracized

Traumatized by my pain being minimalised

Traumatized by being alienated from my children

Traumatized by loved ones supporting the perpetrator

Traumatized by loss of freedom

Traumatized by cunningness of subtle abuse

Traumatized by evil acts

Traumatized by loss of social connections

Traumatized by loss of the ability to earn

Traumatized by financial debt and struggle

Traumatized by ongoing doubt and confusion

Traumatized by flashbacks

Traumatized by lack of answers

Traumatized by lack of responsibility in others

Traumatized by lack of justice

Traumatized by physical abuse

Traumatized by verbal abuse

Traumatized by financial abuse

Traumatized by physical rape

Traumatized by emotional rape

Traumatized by spiritual rape

Traumatized by people who lack empathy

Traumatised by unkind words

Traumatized by being re-traumatized daily..

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Healing Through Movies

Understanding the forms of abuse, trauma or control as shown visually through movies. Some movies are helpful to watch in order to understand the more subtle /covert (psychological) forms of abuse that affect your mind rather than your body as compared to the overt forms like physical and sexual abuse.

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One of the first movies I watched regarding abuse that I could relate to was “Fear” with a young Reese Witherspoon. I had been married for 20+ years by this stage and from this movie I realized the extent of control I was under and that I was with a man who was dangerous and was never going to ‘let me go’ and that I was confusing love with fear.

This movie woke me up and started me on the process of escaping, recovery and healing.

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Are You Being Robbed Of Your Well-Being

Abuse in any form robs a person of their well-being

abuse.....STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!

Psychological/ Emotional Abuse

Psychological/ Emotional abuse is considered the number one worst kind of abuse.

Not many people are aware of this. Most think of abuse as being physical.. and that is where the trap lies. You think if he/ she didn’t hit you then it isn’t abuse. Think again. Emotional abuse causes invisible wounds, but real wounds to your mind, your personality and your spirit. You can loose your potential and your self esteem.

Physical wounds can heal, these wounds take much longer.

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