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A lot of people have embarrassing stories about their first time having sex. Mine earned me a trip to Planned Parenthood, not for a pregnancy test or abortion, but because it had been a very painful, uncomfortable experience for me, and I wanted answers. I had been told before that yes, your first time was supposed to be a bit painful, and that it would be awkward, but I knew in my gut that this wasn’t right.

Once I was there, I explained the details of what happened to the gynaecologist, who examined me physically, and noticed how I recoiled at her touch. She told me that I was recoiling internally too, and that I was too uncomfortable with sexual contact. She encouraged me to experiment with masturbation, find what made me comfortable, before I tried to have sex again with my then-boyfriend. I thanked her and left the office, knowing that my boyfriend at the time, who was extremely insecure and jealous, would never let me “experiment” the way I wanted to, with sex toys. When I had inquired about them to him, he told me bluntly, “I can’t compete with those! I forbid you from using them! If you use them, then it’s only fair that I get to visit a prostitute, that’s its equivalent!”

In retrospect, that was probably not the best choice of partner with whom to initiate myself into sex. I didn’t attempt to have sex with him again, and I left him shortly afterwards. During the interim of time between that break-up and Jaime and I beginning our relationship, I was too insecure and frightened to try flesh-and-blood sex again. But I found a sexual outlet through webcam sex, which still makes me cringe when I think about it. I focused very little on my own sexual pleasure when performing, I mainly got a thrill out of being the object of someone else’s fantasy. It involved no touching, no physical contact, and I didn’t even have to hear the other person’s voice or see them. It was perfect for me at the time. I could touch myself, but still lived in fear of being touched. Even the thought of someone touching my breasts made me shudder. I had no thoughts of connecting it to PTSD until after I had ceased using the webcam as a means of sexual release. But it all made sense. It also had to do with being afraid of my previous partner, who was rather controlling and leaned towards being aggressive. I resolved then to learn to own my sexuality, and learn the power of of a gentle, loving partner’s touch.

Since then, I’ve become a big fan of vibrators. I’m saving up to buy another one for when I am in Seattle, at Babeland. Having a vibrator played a big part in overcoming my fear of my own sexuality. It helped me learn what parts of my body I enjoyed being touched on a much deeper level than I could get with my fingers. It allowed me to relax, and realize it was okay to feel pleasure, it was okay to loosen up. I was hell-bent on making sure that my sexual assailants did not take away my sexual experiences as an adult, after they succeeded in warping my childhood.

The other part in recovery has been trusting Jaime. She is never aggressive, is very tender and moves slowly, and is wonderful in all ways when it comes to making me feel safe and loved. I have a feeling, once transitioning (if she decides to transition) is done, that we will both be a lot more comfortable in our identities, our bodies, and our orientations, and will be able to take greater control over how we experience pleasure. Embracing my queer identity has played a big part in recovery from sexual hang-ups caused by PTSD. I feel much more comfortable with non-penetrative sex, and I no longer feel like I’m turning to women out of fear of men, but simply out of love for women.

Love is a powerful ingredient in reclaiming your sexual identity after being raped, sexually assaulted, and/or molested. Loving yourself, loving your body, loving your sexuality, loving the pleasure you give yourself, and loving the one who is holding your hand (or the vibrator!) as you discover these things. It feels good to be free again.

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