I am a 28 year old woman and I need to get some advice and just organise my thoughts.
I was drugged and gang raped 4 years ago whilst living in Peru as a volunteer charity worker. I went through the legal procedures and attempted to prosecute but, through a variety of problems to do with geography, culture and communication, it did not work. A Rape Crisis centre gave me counselling for 9 months and it made a great difference to my life. Part of which was in relation to being raped, but some of it actually helped me face previous problems that had been there before I was attacked. At the time, it felt like there was a lot to get through and that there was only so much I was ready to achieve. So there were lots of subjects that we never discussed at all. One of these subjects was sex.
Before I was raped, I had a troubled relationship with both my father and a step-father. As a teenager, home was sometimes violent. When I started having sex, I did so in a very destructive way, with guys I wasn't attracted to and when I was blind drunk. I became very promiscuous at times, being unfaithful, dabbling with bisexuality and group sex, often under the influence of alcohol and drugs. So my sexual past has been quite dark and unpleasant. Before I was raped, I already felt a huge amount of guilt and shame, and still often feel like I'm "a bad person".
Since my counselling, I have managed to transform myself in many ways. I no longer smoke or take drugs, though I do still have a difficult relationship with alcohol. I am a practising Buddhist and meditate regularly. My friends are very positive and supportive, i.e. they don't take drugs or encourage me towards unhelpful behaviour. I am vegetarian. And I'm in the process of setting up my own social enterprise. On the whole, life is good.
Also, I'm now in a very loving relationship with the kindest man I have ever met. He is very patient and gentle. He shows me that he cares, respects me and listens when I need to talk. We don't really have taboo areas of conversations and make a point of being as honest with each other as possible.
We have good sexual chemistry between us and both generally like sex together. We've been together 9 months and this is the first time since I was raped that I have started to feel a bit more like the "old me" where sex is concerned. I've started to relax and enjoy it again, and not be afraid of my own sexuality.
However, sometimes I feel angry with him when he hasn't done anything but be kind and considerate to me. And I often feel distrustful and sceptical about his motives for things. Using my rational mind I am certain of his love for me and that he would never intentionally cause me pain. My emotional reactions are quite different though and I am plagued with feelings of insecurity and pain. I am struggling with jealousy and attachment, even though I don't believe love should result in a feeling of ownership over a partner.
The difficulties that I'm currently experiencing are around my partner's past. He has recently told me that he feels like he's addicted to internet pornography. He generally watches a mixture of heterosexual porn with younger women and gay porn. In the past, he has also told me about experiences that he has had with other men.
He told me these things on my request. I feel like most people have sexual urges that they keep secret and that it is not at all unusual for straight men to have homosexual fantasies or experiences. I was getting paranoid at what his might be and inventing stories in my mind about what his hidden sexual desires might be. It felt like this idea was making me less trustful of him. So I asked him to tell me about the darker side of his sexual self.
Having experimented myself and having a lot of darkness around my own relationship with sex, I feel like I want to accept what he has told me and move on. I feel sorry for him for the porn because I know what it is like to be controlled by addictive behaviour and how unpleasant and undermining it is. I feel like he would never hurt me or being unfaithful, and that porn in ethically questionable but essentially quite normal and harmless.
However, I'm really disturbed by what he has told me. I can't stop thinking about it. I don't want to be close to him or affectionate. The idea of him watching gay porn leaves me feeling a bit repulsed. And I'm now creating stories about him fantasising about young skinny teenagers.
He's very tactile and friendly, and there's lots of people around us that he has known for a long time, including ex-girlfriends. I feel threatened by them and struggle to relax about their friendships.
On the one hand, I love him dearly, know that I'm in safe hands and want to be with him. He has accepted me, warts and all, and I want to do the same for him. But on the other hand, I feel disturbed, anxious and troubled by his sexuality and past. Sometimes I feel like romantic/sexual love is more trouble than it's worth and that I just want to give up trying and be alone. I realise that I have issues, but they are often quite far from the surface. So far away that I can't quite understand what's going on or how I feel. I find it very frustrating.
I would love some advice and support. I can't talk to anyone I know about this because I wouldn't want to compromise his trust in me and I am the first person he's ever told. I don't know whether to just keep on talking to him. Whether to keep asking questions about the facts of his past or to just work on developing trust between us.
I don't want to go back to counselling; I feel like they have given me the tools to just keep on gently plugging away at my problems. I'd be interested in a support group but haven't managed to find an appropriate one. I'm also interested in developing the range of tools I have to help myself. However, I'm not sure what to do right now. I've told my boyfriend that I need a few day's space while I get my head around my emotions and process how I feel about what he's told me.
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