This article originally appeared on VICE AU.
Warning: this article includes detailed descriptions of sexual assault. If that's likely to be a trigger for you we strongly suggest you don't read it. For advice and support around issues of assault please contact The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 737 732 or at www.1800respect.org.au
I want you to come on a journey with me. I’m not trying to “find myself,” nor am I heading on the trip of a lifetime. I am on a quest to cum.
This journey is so much more than a desire to feel good in the bedroom. I’m reclaiming the power that was taken from me when I was sexually assaulted four years ago.
I was just shy of 19 when a “friend” tore away my innocence. During an act in which I repeatedly said “no,” he penetrated me with his penis and said “it’s already in. You might as well let me finish.” His dick didn’t give me the pleasure he thought it would, but I don’t think that bothered him anyway.
That night, his force and his words robbed me of many things: confidence, trust, and the ability to find pleasure in sex. I was left with only crippling shame and confusion, and for those reasons it took me years to acknowledge I’d been assaulted.
For four long years I told myself it couldn’t have been assault if I’d agreed to leave the party with him. It couldn’t have been rape if my vagina tingled with satisfaction. I may have said no with my mouth, but my wet pussy was screaming yes.
I know it’s weird, but that awful night was the first and last time I’ve been close to orgasm. I’m now 23 years old and I’ve barely felt any genital arousal since. That’s weird, right? And let me just say, I know what you’re thinking: it’s not rape if you like it.
But four years of shame and anger has poisoned sexual arousal for me. I’ve tried different people. I’ve tried different locations. I’ve also tried myself. But there’s just no toe-curling, body-convulsing, scream-inducing pleasure. I’ve even had a man stop mid-thrust and belt out the drum solo to Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight on my thighs before continuing to penetrate me to the beat … but still, unbelievably, I can’t orgasm.
After all these years, I started to think it was me. I’m doing something wrong, I told myself. I assumed I was asexual, or gay, or that my vagina was simply broken. The pressure and desire to orgasm only made me drier and pushed the all-glorious orgasm further out of reach.
All I’ve wanted is to feel what I’ve seen in the movies; that moment of relinquishing pleasure, where the girl throws her head back and bites her lip in utter indulgence.
And so, for the past six months, I’ve been on a mission to make it happen.
The journey began, as all journeys do, with the internet. I googled the shit out of broken vaginas. I watched how-to videos on orgasms, and my browser history resembled that of a teenage boy who’s just discovered porn.
Eventually, I found a TED Talk that linked shame to pleasure, explaining how it can be hard to feel good if your brain feels bad. Then a few more articles surfaced to fill the missing gaps. One explained how the body must be relaxed to orgasm, which it can’t do if your subconscious is preoccupied. Another article explained that an orgasm is a learned response, like a dog sitting for a treat. Then I found a video discussing the shame women often feel after being assaulted, and their struggle to admit they’ve been through a traumatic experience.
This puzzle was arranging itself in my head, and suddenly I was willing to admit I’d been assaulted. I think it's because I felt some pleasure at the time that I’d always neglected to recognise it was assault. This made me wonder about the sticky link between shame and pleasure, and why this wasn’t discussed more.
Since my assault, I’ve slept with people I care about in environments that were safe and secure. I felt attracted to those people, and they did all the right things. But even though my brain wasn’t focused on my traumatic past, my vagina sure was.
My clit still identifies feelings of pleasure as feelings of harm. In a subconscious act of self-protection, my body puts up imaginary walls and cuts off any feeling of arousal from vaginal stimulation. All because of the pain my assaulter once inflicted on me, and the challenge it’s been to emotionally process the assault.
Opening up to loved ones hasn’t been easy. I’ve always feared that people wouldn’t believe me, or they’d slut-shame me. I feared men viewing me as damaged and un-fuckable, so I decided the easiest way to open up would be to post about it to everyone and no one, all at once. In public.
In June, I filmed a video and posted it to YouTube. I recorded it in one take; unscripted and messy, just like the topic itself. I shared my story to the world (AKA my 15 subscribers), and watched as the messages of support rolled in.
I did this to raise awareness on the issue and help other women going through something similar. But I also did this to take away the pressure of having those difficult conversations with friends and family individually. An expression of truth to the masses via the Internet seemed easier.
From there, I’ve been able to engage in conversations about my experience both online and in real life. These conversations have allowed me to feel supported and understood, and they’ve subsequently aided my journey to cum. But not everyone has understood. I’ve lost friends who couldn’t comprehend why I’d publicly release a video, or simply haven’t believed me. But this is a blessing, because I’ve found out who my real friends are. Being open about my sexual assault has culled the fake friends from my life, allowing me to recognise the real ones.
The last six months has been a rollercoaster but I’m getting closer to orgasm with each sexual encounter. The more open, accepting, courageous, and communicative I become, the easier it is for my pussy to get juicy.
Just last week, I received oral sex in the back of my Toyota Prius and my leg shook. My leg shook. This was a first, so I know I’m getting close to completing my quest.
With a bit of luck, the next piece I write will be a how-to guide for orgasming. Because struggling to orgasm doesn’t mean I’m fucked up. I’m not damaged goods and I won’t settle for a mediocre sex life. I’m taking back the power of my mind, my body, and particularly, my vagina.