I’m back and I’m serious this time¦
Working the call center, I occasionally get the caller who was a victim of some sexual trauma that is looking for a toy that will help them get back into being sexually active. Let me clarify that I am not a doctor but, based on my own experience, I know what worked for me and this blog, as well as my response, is my personal OPINION on this subject.
My first response is and always will be: Do not start with a toy. The toy will not ˜fix’ the problem. There is no easy fix and the best way to return to a healthy sexual life is to get help and information. Information is the key.
I think the first thing that needs to be addressed is validating ones sense of trauma, which was the key to my personal experience. Rape is not the only possibly sexually traumatic thing that can happen to someone. Molestation, harassment, other types of physical and emotional abuse by lovers, strangers or anyone else can cause severe feelings of discomfort and distress regarding sex.
For me, reading the book An Archive of Feeling; Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Public Cultures by Anne Cvetkovich was mind-altering and amazing. In the book, she discussed different responses by lesbians to their traumatic experiences. Listing everything from rape and incest to the trauma of being a caregiver to someone with AIDS or the trauma of dislocation, she discusses how each of these instances affected those women and their lesbian identity.
So, you might be wondering how being a caregiver might affect your sex life but stress, emotional and otherwise can drastically affect your sex drive and your sexual response. Understanding the emotional is far more important that trying to skip ahead to the physical.
The interesting thing about this book, for those of you who were thinking about picking it up, it’s not a self-help book. In fact, in doesn’t really provide resources for seeking counseling or give a guide on healing. The text itself is more a mix of cultural criticism, theory, participant analysis (there are more than few first hand experiences told from different lesbians about their experiences and how they feel it has changed them) and histories of LGBT lives. What it did for me and why I think it’s incredibly relevant is that it provided a text on how trauma can and does affect one’s sexual identity.
I should also mention that in her book, Cvetkovich does address the perception that homosexuality (female, specifically in the text) is linked to early sexual trauma. While she doesn’t claim that there is a direct link, she does state that for her own experience, she does feel that early abuse may have had a great affect on her lesbian identity. To clarify, she does not make a blanked statement that being abused makes you gay or that if you are gay, you were abused. She states that her lesbian identity was affected by her childhood abuse and that she actually appreciates that something so positive in her life came from such a negative experience.
Again, for me, it was important to find information that dealt with trauma from a queer perspective. Finding Cvetkovich’s book was possibly one of the best finds in a used bookstore I could ever imagine. Fortunately, now that I’m at GV, I have access to some other great titles that address physical and emotional abuse for men, women, lesbians and gays:
Survivor’s Guide to Sex by Staci Haines
Can’t Touch My Soul: A Guide for Lesbian Survivors by Donna Rafanello
For gay Men:
Victims No Longer by Mike Lew
It saddens me that I don’t see ads for RAINN (Rape, Abuse& Incest National Network) anymore on television but they’re still around and a great place to get help:
1-800-656-HOPE “ 24 hours a day, free and confidential.
I promise lighter fare next time¦