Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

On Sex As Affection And Validation In Abusive Relationships


Had this post running round my head for the last couple of hours and for once I wasn't sure whether or not to write it.

It's gonna be a whole heap of personal.

So I did what any rational, sane internet addict would do and asked Twitter if I should. They said yes, and who am I to go against the will of the Twitterverse?

So here it is. My thoughts, for what they are worth, on sex and abuse.

I have never been shy about talking about the abuse I have survived. I talked about the violence, and the rape, and the emotional as well as physical scars I have. But I survived. I survived able to have a healthy relationship with my friends, my family and especially The Lovely. That I am able to do this is a real victory for me.

So, what does this have to do with sex?

I like sex. I love it and have quite a high sex drive. I enjoy a wonderful sex life and I'm proud that I can after all the abuse I have been through. I have no body issues any more and spend 99% of my time feeling like a sassy, sexy goddess. I'm a regular fucking horndog. Yay me!

It occurred to me today though that my attitude to sex hasn't always been quite so healthy.

When I was in abusive relationships I was being put down. I was fat, ugly, stupid, pathetic.

And I wanted sex. I wasn't horny, I just needed that validation that I was worthwhile. If he was having sex with me it meant that I wasn't as bad as he was saying. There had to be something good about me or he wouldn't want to have sex with me right?

I was being beaten. At one point, one of the abusers thought it would be funny to punch me as hard as he could between my legs. So hard that my pelvic bone was bruised enough that I couldn't wear underwear for three weeks.

And he still wanted sex with me. I get now it was to cause as much pain to me as possible, but in my fucked up way I felt GRATEFUL that he would want to have sex with me, someone who obviously wasn't enjoying it because of the pain. So I cried silently and tried to pretend I liked it.

And I was raped. Continually. But sometimes, (not every time, most of the time I don't even remember what I was feeling, and definitely not during) afterwards, when I was cleaning up blood and putting ice packs on the various parts of my body that were in agony, even that in some proper fucked up way felt like validation.

He had me that dependent on him that he had me convinced that he wouldn't do it if he didn't love me so much.

And that made me feel better somehow. Like I wasn't worthless and useless and fat and ugly. I could cry for how fucked up I was. For how every family relationship where I internalised being unfeminine and unbeautiful and stupid and just plain worthless had led to this point.

And you know what? I needed comfort after his attacks. Anyone would need comfort after being attacked. He had me so isolated from anyone who would or could help me or comfort me, that it had to be him I turned to for that comfort. And there were never any cuddles. So that meant sex.

Like I say, I'm much better these days. Sex is a healthy, enjoyable thing for me. I have no inhibitions and it is ALWAYS on my terms.

But sometimes, just sometimes, after a row or if I'm feeling hormonal or something I find myself wanting sex without the accompanying horn. For affection. For validation. Because there is still a part of me who internalised not being good enough and that will never completely leave.

So always be good to your children and never put them down. They internalise and normalise that shit and it makes them easier prey for abusers.

And when you see someone in an abusive relationship who isn't leaving and seems to still be having a sex life, try not to judge. Try to give some empathy and let them know they can talk to you.

It might save their life.

It certainly saved mine.

This post was first published here - thanks to author for permission to cross post.


We do NOT give permission for posts published as personal experiences to be reproduced, translated or otherwise published elsewhere. We will not contact people who submit their personal experiences on behalf of journalists, bloggers or other third sector organisations. These testimonies remain the intellectual copyright of their authors and must be treated with the ethical guidelines used by academics for research involving human subjects. Our full guidelines can be read here.

Comments are currently closed.

2 thoughts on “On Sex As Affection And Validation In Abusive Relationships

  • Admin says:

    Thank you SO much for letting us share your post. I believe that many survivors (including me) will relate to your experiences. It is so important that we can talk about our sexuality and any connections to abusive relationships. Thank you for helping us to do that x

  • Kath says:

    I understand this all too well. Been there, done that, had the bloody expensive therapy, ya know?

    I do think it’s OK to want or even need sex as affection from time to time. After all, it is a way of expressing affection as well as all the other stuff – pleasure, love, intimacy, lust, energy release, all that stuff. Sometimes we just want and or need sex as a delivery service for affection too, and that’s OK. It’s when we see it as the ONLY way to receive affection that it becomes worrisome.

    Great post.