Sex with a survivor

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Great post originally from Festering Femme on how to have sex with a survivor of sexual assault. I’ve received a few questions from survivors or people involved with survivors about having sex after assault and I really liked this post on the subject.

how to have sex with a survivor* —

and just a general warning that this is not a universal guide with every survivor falling neatly into the patterns outlined below. survivors—and all people—deserve the courtesy of being treated as individuals with distinct needs and concerns; please do not read the following and assume you no longer need to engage in honest, open conversation with your sexual partner(s).


  1. don’t expect it of us. like, this is a given, absolutely, but between partners with varying experiences and sex drives… this has been a constant struggle for me in relationships. every person i’ve been in a relationship with could never fully reconcile that sex and a relationship were not inherently tied. our relationship did not give them a pass to intimacy. my lack of desire for intimacy for stretches of time would, to them, signify a failed relationship. that impression on their part in turn made me feel like a failure. that fucks up relationships. that fucked me up. whether or not you are a survivor, sex should never be expected of you. ever. and someone who believes they deserve that from you under any circumstances is a piece of shit.
  2. on that note, don’t plan sex. partners of mine have often tried to be seductive in saying things like, “i can’t wait to do this to you later tonight…” but, to me, that simply meant that it became an obligation for me. that made sex an obligation. and, therefore, it made sex undesirable. i would feel this pressure to perform for them rather than to engage in sex for my own pleasure and it became this thing where i would attempt to start for them but i could never fully commit because i felt pressured. not to say this is what my partner was intending. at all. but it affected me negatively.
  3. don’t make our kinks about our sexual trauma. yeah, me, personally? i really like being choked. a lot. but don’t ruin the pleasure of that by tying it into my trauma. is it your place to figure out the source of my kinks or is it your role as my partner to realize pleasure with me? we both know the answer to that. don’t “figure out” how your partner has been affected by their sexual trauma. what does your curiosity have to gain except for the make your partner feel dissected? partners have done that to me, and all it did was make me feel like personality was compartmentalized into pre- and post-rape.
  4. validate us outside of our sex life. i have long felt that my worth is perceived by others as purely sexual, and this was horribly exacerbated by my assault. while i love feeling desired by my partners, if that is heavily emphasized over the other aspects of our relationship, i will withdraw. i will resent them for seeing my purely in that light, and i will often be triggered. even when having casual sex, or sex in any capacity without a committed relationship, respect is key. making me feel like a whole, full human rather than only your sex partner is vital to my comfort and feeling of safety.
  5. use a safe word. it can be as simple as “wait.” it doesn’t matter what the word is. its function is purely to remind us that we hold power over our sexual interactions and it will always stop if we want or need it to. when i begin the spiral and feel like sex is becoming less mine and purely yours, having a word to center us and bring us back together and to affirm my own control makes a world of difference.

*i have received asks about this in the past, and felt it made sense to share a general post to address some issues i have answered asks on. this does not mean that my issues are the issues of all survivors, or that non-survivors can’t share these issues with me. these are things that i have experienced and i have come to this understanding of them.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Tell us in the comments!

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