My life in sex: ‘It is key for me to feel in complete control’


Illustration by Lo Cole

Nine years ago, when I was 16, I was raped by a stranger. It coloured the way I experienced sex for a long time, and to some extent it still does, but after years of fighting battles with my past, I now have something that I once thought was impossible: a healthy relationship with sex.

For a long time, it was something I both wanted and dreaded because I often had flashbacks. In the middle of sex, my mind would get confused and I genuinely thought I was being raped again. I would start screaming and crying. Sometimes I’d even lash out at my partner in fear.

Eventually, a counsellor taught me that it was key for me to feel in complete control at all times during sex, and gave me some strange homework. When being intimate with my boyfriend, I had to say “stop” and then “start” throughout, and he followed what I said. It’s not something I do any more, but reassuring myself that I’m in control, and only being intimate with people I feel in control with, is still essential.

I always have music on when I have sex, as it grounds me and constantly reminds me where I am. Another thing that helped a lot was buying a sex toy because I was able to learn about my body and take control of my own pleasure.

I’m now at a point in my life where I enjoy incredible sex and haven’t had a flashback in years. It’s certainly a journey; and at times not an easy one, but I want all survivors to know that it is possible to enjoy sex again, if it’s something you want.


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