My life in sex: the woman in recovery from sexual abuse

Anonymous

Beginning with my rape at 14, sex has been a disturbing, sometimes violent and always unfulfilling experience. To the outside world, I have it together: a solid job I am good at, a caring ex-partner and two beautiful children. Yet, all my attempts at intimacy have been fraught with shame, secrecy and a lack of authenticity.

Most recently, I reconnected with an older man I met four years ago. I rebuffed his advances first time round; for reasons I am still unsure of, I pursued him this time. I thought the disclosure of my vulnerability and my history of abuse would ensure he would treat me respectfully and with care. I was wrong. The sex felt forceful and, during oral intercourse, I became so distressed that my bladder, weakened by childbirth, lost control and I wet the bed.

A week after our night together, he stopped initiating contact. Though my rational mind understands how unhealthy the experience was, the feeling of abandonment is strong.

Related: My life in sex: ‘My wife wants a desire-free old age. But I still see her as my sexual partner’

What makes it worse is that, to my deep dismay, this is a pattern I keep repeating, seemingly ad infinitum. It is as though the abuse I experienced as a child has trapped me in this pattern I unwillingly recreate to my own detriment. I desperately want a fulfilling, safe, loving and intimate relationship. I would like to experience an orgasm with someone, something I have never achieved. My experience shows how difficult it is to recover from childhood abuse. I fear that I will never find what I am longing for.

• Each week, a reader tells us about their sex life. Want to share yours? Email sex@theguardian.com