||This week I found a video tape of myself having sex when I was 21, with my then boyfriend, now ex-husband. I feel like I should share my story now, so that it makes sense in my head. My story doesn’t involve physical violence directed at me (other than the throwing objects and dangerous driving), so sometimes I feel like I have to check my story for evidence that it was real, that I was sexually assaulted and coerced into sexual acts that I didn’t want to do.
When we were still married, the tape was floating around amongst our bedroom belongings. I asked Drew, my husband, to please erase or destroy it, as I did not enjoy making it. He said he would, but he didn’t. I left him three years ago, and fortunately, it must have gotten packed up with my stuff when we separated. When I found the tape I was horrified it still existed, but relieved that it was in my possession and not his, so that he could never watch it again, or worse still, put it on a revenge porn website. When we had separated I had found a web history of him visiting a website called hot_wives or something like that, and I was frightened that he had posted sexual video or photos of me online.
When I had first met Drew I was feeling vulnerable having left an on-again-off-again relationship. He asked me out on a date but I didn’t feel like we were that compatible or had much in common. I told him I wasn’t ready for a relationship and he joked that he would keep asking me until I said yes. He asked me for a lift home in a family emergency and then sent me a card expressing his appreciation for my help. He gave me the impression that he was a caring, family-oriented person, and convinced me to ‘give him a chance’. We went out to dinner and after gingerly holding his hand while crossing the road, I said ‘I’d need to take things very slow’. He squeezed my hand and said, ‘see this; this is all I want right now’.
The following week I watched a movie at Drew’s house one night and it had gotten late, so he offered for me to sleep in the foldout bed in the rec room of his parents’ house (he lived at home). His grandparents were also staying over in another room. Drew bid me goodnight and went to his own room. Just as I was about to fall asleep he suddenly appeared in the rec room and slid into the bed next to me. He started kissing me and I could feel his erection on me, as he began to lie on top of me. I kind of felt railroaded into being intimate with him before I was ready, even though he said ‘are you sure you want this?’. I said ‘yes’ but it was mainly because he was already so in my personal space and I kinda convinced myself that I should give it a chance. So we had sex and it was very uncomfortable.
Within weeks we were staying in his room all weekend, barely eating, and having sex multiple times a day. I began to get very chafed and sore. I developed genital warts and Drew asserted that as he was asymptomatic he couldn’t have been the one who had given them to me – both he AND his mother (!) said that they had asked their family doctor about it, and that he had said that it must have been from my ex-boyfriend (who I hadn’t had sex with for over a year beforehand). I felt embarassed that Drew had told his mother about my personal sexual business, and felt ashamed that I had an STD. I felt very alone, with Drew my only support.
I repeatedly had to have the genital warts burnt off with liquid nitrogen, which was incredibly painful, and then I had to use an experimental immune-system altering cream that really burned. I felt like a very sore guinea pig. Drew wanted to ‘try’ having sex with me though. He told me if it hurt that I should tell him - but it hurt right away, every time. He wanted to keep trying so I would try to ignore the pain for as long as I could and then I would cry and tell him to stop. He would get frustrated that I hadn’t told him sooner that I was hurting, because it made him feel bad that he wasn’t making me feel good. I always felt like I was letting him down. It still hurt even after the warts were gone. He tried to encourage me by buying me lingerie and taking photos of me in it. I just felt like it was more pressure. That was about the time that we made the sex tape. He had left a couple of porno videos lying around his bedroom and asked if I wanted to watch them. I said it made me feel like a failure because I wasn’t able to have sex as much as he would like or that I couldn’t compare to the people in the porn. And I just didn’t find the idea of watching porn appealing. So he suggested we have sex and tape it so that he could watch it when I couldn’t have sex with him. I told him I felt uncomfortable about it but I didn’t want to have to keep trying to have sex with him every day. So I grit my teeth and participated. When I watched the video I could tell by the look on my face during the whole thing that I was embarrassed, that I was barely tolerating it, that it wasn’t enjoyable, and I could see and remember flashes of pain, which I tried to disguise as moans of pleasure.
Drew came to all my gynecological appointments with me when I was eventually diagnosed with vulvodynia (vulvar pain syndrome). I went on the older style anti-depressants which were meant to help the break the pain cycle. I took them at night and they made me very sleepy. He would get into bed next to me and start masturbating and ask me to help him, and he said he felt rejected if I didn’t. He even asked me to give him a blow job in the backseat of his car at his friend’s 21st birthday party, when I had glandular fever, and just wanted to go home. He said he had a lot of sexual energy that he needed to release otherwise he would get ‘upset’. He would sulk if I didn’t help him orgasm. I developed temporal-mandibular-joint dysfunction from all the blow jobs. I started going to bed earlier and earlier to avoid having to do them. I’d pretend to be asleep, but he’d shake the bed masturbating next to me. I felt guilty for pretending to be asleep. I would end up participating on autopilot.
I developed severe depression, anxiety, and panic attacks related to my sexual difficulties when we moved in together. Drew came with me to a psychologist who gave us sex therapy exercises and encouraged us to give fun names to our genitals. He also told me to meditate and to do non sexual touching exercises before progressing to sex. But Drew would say to me that he still needed to orgasm, so I still had that pressure of having to perform; make him come somehow, with my mouth, hands, feet, breasts. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just relieve himself by himself somewhere else. I always felt guilty for avoiding it or for not enjoying it. I began to think that maybe I just wasn’t a sexual person.
At night Drew would show me porn pictures on the Internet of men ejaculating on women’s high heeled feet, or buttocks or on their face. He would say he wanted to try that sort of thing. He would basically just use my body as something for him to come on. I felt like I didn’t want any of it, that I didn’t know what I wanted, if anything. He kept asking me to tell him my fantasies, but I had none. Strangely, I would dream that I was having sex with other people other than him, and that I wanted to, and it didn’t hurt. But I didn’t tell him.
Our sex life and problems had overtaken my world so much that I had little left in the way of close friends, and Drew was really the only person who knew all my personal stuff. I figured that meant that we must have been destined to be together, so after seven years we got married. In the first year of marriage I got pregnant when Drew said we could start ‘trying’. When the pregnancy test came back positive, Drew expressed he was disappointed that we didn’t get to try more times to get pregnant. I was relieved that I didn’t have to keep trying. But I still had to keep up the blowjobs otherwise he would blame any angry outbursts on account that we hadn’t been ‘intimate’.
Things continued to go downhill following the birth of our daughter. He would drive dangerously on purpose and then blame it on him being angry because I went to bed early the night before. As I became more involved with my daughter and more confident in myself in raising her, he looked for ways to criticize me and to judge my parenting decisions as ‘not being careful enough’. He questioned every purchase I made, and said I shouldn’t have a coffee every week with my new friend, as we didn’t have enough money. His mother was very demanding and he told me we just had to do things her way. He said we couldn’t have another child until I sorted out my sex problem, and that I wasn’t trying hard enough to fix it. We tried marriage counseling with a couple of social workers, and Drew dismissed them as ‘hopeless’. He said the problem was all in my head, and that I had to get over it, and that I needed individual psychotherapy. He insinuated that even my own mother didn’t approve of my style of parenting. I felt like I was going crazy. It was only through talking maternal child health nurse that I was referred to family violence services who made me aware that what I was experiencing were several kinds of abuse, and that it was likely to escalate.
The realization that things were not going to improve made me extremely anxious. I felt too sick to eat and at my lowest point weighed only 48 kg. I will still =-worried that I was going crazy, and saw a psychiatrist who assured me that I wasn’t! He did however listen to my story and told me that it seemed that I was incredibly unhappy because of the situation I was in. Drew became suspicious of my psychiatrist appointments, even ringing my psychiatrist and demanding to know what I was discussing with him. Of course my psychiatrist was bound by confidentiality and said he couldn’t discuss my disclosures. My husband’s behavior was really beginning to frighten me.
The absolute lowest point of my marriage was towards the end when my psych prescribed me sleeping tablets – I woke to find my husband grinding up against my back and pulling my hips towards him, masturbating furiously. It took all my strength to say ‘what are you doing? I was SLEEPING’ and he just said ‘sorry, sorry, sorry’ and then turned away. HE KNEW I had taken sleeping tablets and HE DIDN’T CARE that I was asleep. That was when I knew I had to leave for good.
So I left a note saying that my daughter and I were going to stay the night at my parents’ house to have some alone time but that I wanted still wanted to go to relationship counseling the next day to discuss how we were going to both share care of our daughter. Upon arrival to the counseling session, Drew threw his phone on the ground and threatened to throw a lot more things as he had ‘a lot of aggression to get out’. After that the domestic violence service advised me to get an intervention order. It was probably the worst day of my life.
It took me less time than I thought it would to actually be interested in sex again. I was AMAZED to find that it DIDN’T HAVE TO HURT and that I could actually ENJOY it and LOOK FORWARD to it. I have slept with quite a few frogs since but have recently met someone who I am quite hopeful of having long-term prospects with. I have told him my stories and he has listened with compassion. I desire him because he is a respectful person whom I have gotten to know better over time, and he doesn’t see me only as a warm body (though he is actually very attractive and GREAT in the sack!). I hope reading my story helps someone feel they are not alone, and/or that there is hope after sexual abuse.
Yesterday I jumped up and down on the sex tape and then opened it up and cut the inner tape to shreds. It kind of felt a silly but also cathartic thing for me to do. I laughed at myself and then put it in the bin. Then I smiled