Life. · Recovery. · Relationships. · Self-Care. · Sex · Sexual Health

BDSM & My Journey Back to Intimacy.

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” — Carl Jung

In many ways, what happened to me has made me stronger. I have learned that my courage and bravery know no bounds. I know I am a warrior in spirit and in mind. I also know a deeper and more profound empathy than I thought possible, towards other survivors, towards other’s suffering. I have learned how to cope. I am allowing myself to heal at my own pace. I sit in the feelings that feel really uncomfortable. I don’t deny myself the discomfort or the horror, but I also don’t let myself get stuck in it. I know how to let them drift in and then drift away.

That feels good. I know that I’m not static or stuck. That I’m becoming something new.

I am becoming reconnected to my sexual desires and disconnecting from what happened to my body without my permission. I am learning that it is not wrong to want to touch or be touched, even if my mind still gets clouded with fear at times. One big part of my desire to reconnect with my body is simple: I LOVE SEX. Everything about it. A gentle caress on my skin, a playful smack on my ass, a naughty tug of my hair, a deep endless kiss. It was an integral part of who I was when I was younger as I was beginning to explore my sexuality, and has remained an integral part of who I am today despite my trauma.

Over the past couple of months, I have begun to experiment with kink and BDSM. Dominance and submissiveness, power and control—these are all types of therapy for me. Incorporating BDSM into my sexual experience has allowed me to be in control, and I dominate the situation despite the fact that I identify as a submissive.

What is BDSM?

Bondage, dominance, submission, and masochism. BDSM is a lifestyle where individuals choose to incorporate power, pain, pleasure, and release into their sexual experience. Specifically, there is a Dominant, Switch and a Submissive who consensually participate (although there are many other roles people choose to identify) in different forms of kink and play. I identify as a submissive, someone who enjoys giving up power to my partner.

This is all to say that BDSM is a healthy and consensual form of expression—in fact, the current BDSM 4C Consent Model is based around caring, communication, consent and caution. 

This is not to say that my experimentation with BDSM is solely in response to my trauma. This sexual practice is revolutionary for my mind and body.


“When submitting to someone I trust, I’m able to let go of my anxieties.”

How does BDSM fit into my life as a sexual assault survivor?

Many people who have experienced sexual assault feel as if they have no control, so BDSM gives them the chance to reclaim power. Furthermore, my relationships after my abuse were unhealthy and emotionally manipulative. My heteronormative and vanilla past are more problematic and triggering for me. It’s also important to note that people who participate in BDSM are not all sexual assault survivors.

My role as a submissive allows me to wield the power. Even though I am “giving” up power to my partner, our dynamic is based on trust, safety, respect, and consent. There is extensive conversation prior to engaging in kink where I have the ability to wield my power to set boundaries, limits, expectations and sexual desires. I am able to put my needs first without feeling guilt or extreme disgust. I am not into pain, but more pleasure-focused submission.

Experimentation and communication are at the center of BDSM. There is a beauty in personal exploration that you can achieve while toying with new and alternative sexual lifestyles.

Aftercare.

Not only has BDSM allowed me to regain control, but after playtime, most kinksters engage in aftercare. In sum, BDSM practitioners have built aftercare into their sex lives to make sure that everyone involved feels safe and cared for after play time is over. Aftercare can range from a massage, lengthier debriefs about the playtime, cuddling, tending to any bruises/wounds- it’s a way for partners to check-in with each other to share what their experience was like in order to adapt to each person’s needs.

So what does that mean for me?

It gives me a chance to reclaim my body as a source of pleasure—instead of anxiety or depression or trauma. I have complete control over what sensations I want to experience with the other person. Through this, I’ve learned how to better communicate for myself and understand my desires. It is an amazing thing to me—how easy, and even natural, it feels to hand the reins to someone else in the bedroom—all while knowing that I am the one truly in control.

The physical aspects of a BDSM relationship offered a tangibility that talk therapy could not. Instead of mere thought or theory—instead of struggling to change hardwired perceptions on a purely mental scale—my relationship with BDSM has given me actual, incontrovertible proof that I could trust someone emotionally and physically. Unlike a vanilla relationship, BDSM consistently challenges limits and pushes boundaries. Every “session” is another test, another experiment in which trust might either fail or hold. That it not only held, but grew exponentially, was healing in every single way. Sexually, I have never felt more powerful. The shedding of shame and fear has allowed me to let go and really feel my body’s pleasure without the restraint of self-consciousness or the need to be in control. I am more aware of my body’s responses, and less concerned with how I might look or how someone else might perceive me. All those things that might otherwise hide in a person’s bedroom—including socially learned lessons about what’s normal and what’s not; purity and deviance; sluts and shame; right and wrong—has flown right out the window. There is only me and my partner, our bodies and imaginations, and a world of trust.

I will continue writing about my exploration with kink and BDSM as my healing journey continues…

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