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Pleasure and Orgasm After Sexual Abuse

Brittany P. from Butterfly Closures wrote an interesting article on the effects of child abuse on adult sexuality. She writes, among other things, about the inability to have an orgasm even when a sexual encounter is pleasant. I do not know how commonly this occurs, and Brittany wonders whether she’s alone in it, but I can understand its dynamics. Many sexual abuse victims orgasm when they are being raped, and often feel that their sexual pleasure is stolen from them by their perpetrators that way. Contrary to common belief, orgasming does not mean you wanted it. Even though it is influenced by one’s mind’s perception of pleasure, this is not a voluntary mechanism: sexual sitmulation is pleasant to some subconscious brains, even if consciously you don’t find it pleasant at all.

Brittany also writes about the effects of the inability to orgasm on a potential relationship. To this, I replied that a sensitive partner will understand the lack of orgasm doesn’t mean you didn’t like it. After all, you may not want sex and still orgasm, but the reverse is also true.

I want to address one more issue in this post: the fear of orgasm. I have this because of sensory issues that have probably little to do with abuse, but it is understandable that survivors of sexual abuse will have the same feeling, especially if they orgasmed during abuse. The connection between pleasure and orgasm is lost, in a way, and it is hard to gain this back. Orgasming can be triggering, too, because it reminds you of the abuse. This is also hard to overcome: when you don’t want sex because of the trigger, it would be unwise to give in anyway. That way, you run the risk of being retraumatized, after all. I don’t know of any solutions to this at this point.