I Was Sexually Assaulted and This Is What Happened to My Sex Life Afterward

My then live-in boyfriend’s patience dwindled with the passing of time.
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Danielle Campoamor
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My then live-in boyfriend’s patience dwindled with the passing of time.
Survivor selfie. 

Survivor selfie. 

Like almost any traumatic life event, there’s an unspoken amount of time in which mourning and recovery are acceptable. No one shames the crying widow at a funeral, or the inconsolable parent a month after burying his or her child. Society silently acknowledges that pain and loss take time to heal, but once that time has come and gone, even the most empathetic of people expect a level of stability and mending. 

The same can be said for survivors of rape or sexual assault. 

While the initial shock and subsequent anxiety are more than understandable, after a while, friends, family members and lovers alike, demand that the trauma and its side effects vanish. Survivors hear mumbles of impatience and pleas of exhaustion, as well-intentioned loved ones beg for the person they once knew. 

At least that’s what happened to me. 

After the invasive hospital visit and the taxing police questions and the somewhat condescending meetings with victim advocates, I attempted healing. The bruises on my breasts and thighs and collar bone faded quickly, but the fearful anxiety refused to dissolve. 

I was no longer underneath his body, at the mercy of his will, but I could feel his presence and power and desire constantly; when I washed the shampoo out of my hair or crossed the street on the way to my favorite restaurant or curled up on my leather couch, begging someone else’s story to take me away from mine. 

I felt outside of my body. I felt ineffectual. I felt acutely aware of my inability to fight against the wants of complete strangers. 

I felt like a piece of cheese on the end of a string, and the world was one big, ravenous mouse. 

My then live-in boyfriend’s patience dwindled with the passing of time. He was eager to reconnect with the sexual, passionate and erotic girlfriend he once knew. He attempted to revive our intimacy with light kisses and compassionate touches, but I could only retract from him as I had retracted from myself. 


He wanted my body, but I didn’t feel like the vessel I controlled was my body. The lightest contact sent scathing sirens through every inch of my skin. My brain rattled inside my head, screaming unavoidable warnings of panic and dread and agitation that vibrated my rib cage. 

While I spent my days feeling outside of myself, when I was in bed with someone who cared for me, I felt trapped behind a fake skin. I had transformed into a plastic pleasure doll, wanted only for her holes and emotionless expressions. 

My boyfriend’s patience turned to discontent, and we quickly dissolved. He couldn’t understand why time didn’t do as promised, and heal the unseen trauma. Why couldn’t I find solace in his embrace or safety in his arms? I should have been able to differentiate a sexual assault from a consensual encounter and when I couldn’t, well, we couldn’t go on.

As my relationship firmly planted itself in my past, I attempted to find my once sensual and animalistic self by engaging in an untold number of trysts and one night stands. I wanted nothing but to feel how I used to feel. I ached for the enjoyment of someone’s scent, or the intoxication of their sweat on my skin. 

So, I threw myself into questionable situations with questionable people. My red light was on and I was eager to please, losing myself in the company of sultry strangers. I said who and when and where, thankful that the men on top of me where there because I said they could be. They weren’t using my body, I was. Finally. 

And even in the most problematic of places with the most suspicious of people, I felt little apprehension or worry. I had already known the worst that could happen, so my once debilitating terror had transformed into a dangerous unconcern. 

I knew what every woman’s nightmare looked like, so there was nothing left to fear.

Soon I was hearing whispers detailing my inappropriate behavior. Friends and family members and strangers judging me for my choices and the way I used my body to make them. They couldn’t understand why was I searching for myself in others.

In an attempt to regain ownership of a body someone had felt entitled to, and subsequently helped themselves to, I lived both ends of a societal spectrum. I was the reserved, quiet and apprehensive woman; conservative and chaste and frigid. I was the fearless, careless harlot; uncontrollable and immoral and debauched. 

Eventually, time did as promised. It just wasn’t on the timeline friends or family or lovers expected. Through a series of circumstances and self-exploration, life eventually pushed me back into the self I had known. A self I will never take for granted again. 

And even now, as I’m in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man and the father of my child, I can feel the internal struggle to forget that inescapable moment in my life. I’ll flinch as my loving partner reaches for my leg. I’ll feel the creeping tinge of fear when I’m alone in a dark living room. 

So while time can be kind, it cannot be god-like. It cannot do the impossible, and grant the amnesia that, for any survivor, is simply impossible.  

So if you wouldn’t shame the the crying widow at a funeral, or the inconsolable parent a month after burying his or her child, don’t shame the women like me constantly engaged in a battle with their bodies. 

Regardless of how long their battle has raged on.