Over the Rainbow - a site for survivors of any unwanted sexual activity
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Relationships After Rape ...

self-care after sexual assault

After being raped I believed that I would never be able to have a relationship. If you were a virgin when you were assaulted then it can be hard to even imagine what a healthy relationship is like, never mind consider having one. It is, however, possible to have a relationship after rape.
Boundaries: Survivors often struggle to set clear boundaries in relationships, particularly if they have experienced abuse in a relationship setting. If you have had your no ignored in the past then it can feel easier not to say no rather than run the risk of it being ignored. Survivors respond in different ways after rape - some may avoid all physical contact, others may become promiscuous, others will go through stages of both these behaviours. Remember that you are entitled to say no to sex at any stage of a relationship.

Triggers and Disassociation: Sex is likely to be very triggering. Talk to your partner and make sure that they know if there are any particular things that trigger you so that they can be avoided. If you think you are in danger of disassociating during sex then make sure your partner is aware of this and discuss the ways you would like them to help you through it. There may be particular aspects of sex that you want to avoid - this is perfectly normal and understandable and no partner should ever pressure you to participate in anything that makes you uncomfortable - indeed to do so is abusive. Refusal to have sex is not the same as rejection and your struggles with intimacy are not your fault. They are a normal response to what you have been through.

Contraception: If you are struggling to take care of yourself it can be easy not to protect your body from pregnancy and disease. Remember that you are precious and your body is worth taking care of.

Telling: Telling your partner about what happened to you can be a difficult decision to make. You may want them to know every little detail or you may not want them to know at all. Both are fine. What you share is entirely your choice. If you choose to share remember that it may be difficult and upsetting for them to hear that someone they care about has been hurt. They may not know how best to support you. You may wish to tell your partner the ways in which you want to be supported - for example are you comfortable with touch when you are triggered or do you wish to be left alone? That way your partner will feel relaxed in the knowledge that they are doing the right thing and you will receive the care that you deserve.

Now that I am in a relationship where I am cherished I am angry that I ever experienced anything less.
You are worth caring for, don't settle for anything less! 
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