Freaking out after past assault

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phenolphtalein
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Freaking out after past assault

Unread post by phenolphtalein »

Hey, I've been talking to a therapist and I have decided to work through my trauma of past relationships but my therapist is on vacation for now and I really would need some advice.

My new boyfriend and I have a very good relationship and we both love and respect each other a lot. However when it comes to sexual things, I often freak out during or after likely due to unresolved ptsd. An ex assaulted me while I was half asleep and tried to coerce me to have sex with him. Now I always freak put when there a some little mistakes; my boyfriend will always stop when I tell him to, I can always change my mind and stop us doing sexual stuff when I'm uncomfortable and he will be very understanding and is treating it like no big deal. I feel very comfortable with him due to this. He also moves at the pace I need and usually always asks before he does something to me, if it is okay. Lately I have been feeling better about sexual things and we have stopped asking little things like touching each other's back, belly or kissing while keeping asking for permission for actual sex acts, breasts and genitalia.

Why I am freaking out atm is because last night we were sexual together and he had his head on my chest, in motion when I wasn't feeling it any more so I asked him to stop. When I said it though, I thought to myself "well that came out quieter than I intended" and he didn't stop so I said it again, louder and a little panicked. He immediately stopped and apologized and said he didn't hear me before. I actually didn't feel violated by this because I really trust him and he always makes sure I am okay. Today we got frisky again and he asked to touch my chest but because of last night I felt uncomfortable and said no. Later I removed my shirt for him because I wanted him to see my chest (he didn't pressure me into this, I genuinely like it when he sees me like this) but I still only wanted him to watch, not touch.

I think he misread the gesture as me wanting him to touch me so he was positioning his hands on my sides but before he did something I said "no touch please" and he didn't proceed and only looked, like I had wanted. We made out a bit and a couple minutes later her was joking around and then asking me if he could touch my chest. I said no and ended things there because I got really triggered. When my ex and I met, he would always ask multiple times if I could undress for him and I always said no until he made me feel so guilty that I eventually gave up and just did it. I didn't feel particularly good but he back then said he thought if a woman says no, you have to try harder and she wants to be convinced which is stupid. When I ended the session with my new boyfriend today, he immediately was okay with that. He wasn't cranky, didn't sulk, just said "okay yeah let's get dressed" and smiled at me.

I later talked to him about what happened because I was freaking out and he was worried about me, so I told him what triggered me and he said he thought that throughout the making out, people could change their minds and that's why he asked. Now I'm really scared he is like my ex although I think a lot is also my possible ptsd. It's been a couple hours, I already feel better but I'm still scared what this means for my relationship. Can I trust him? I do think it was just a mistake yesterday but today triggered me a lot so now I'm scared I'm missing something. Is this question innocent if nonverbal acts seem to indicate a change of mind? Or is repeating a question always coercion?
CaitlinEve
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Re: Freaking out after past assault

Unread post by CaitlinEve »

Hey phenolphtalein,

I'm so sorry to hear that you're having trouble with your triggers. I would recommend, if you're comfortable with it, discussing this again with your partner as the only person who can tell you what he thinks is him. Your communication is very important to maintaining a healthy relationship and your own mental health, and I'm glad that you feel comfortable discussing your anxiety and triggers with him. That being said, your anxiety and triggers are completely valid and it's good that you can recognize what they stem from. I would say that repeating a question is not always coercion, and his reaction to you ending the session is a good sign. However, the only opinion that really matters on this and your feelings is your own and if you're feeling unsafe and uncomfortable that's okay too.

Are there any resources or specific advice we can offer you, or just a place to speak and be heard while your therapist is on vacation? We're here for you!
phenolphtalein
not a newbie
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2023 12:13 am
Age: 22
Pronouns: she/her
Location: Central Europe

Re: Freaking out after past assault

Unread post by phenolphtalein »

We have discussed it already but sometimes I need a lot of reassurance. I also suffer from OCD which gets triggered by my freaking out. I just feel like I cannot trust my own judgment because I have been gaslighted in my past relationships and lost the confidence in my gut feeling. My new boyfriend is nothing but sweet to me and always makes sure to move at my pace. He knows about my past. I guess my main question is actually; how do I heal from my past? There are a lot of resources for recognizing sexual violence but not enough to help with struggling survivors, at least I can't find any. Usually articles on the internet just say that people found a new partner and magically everything disappeared, they healed and went on to live their lives. I am not like that despite my new boyfriend providing a lot of safe spaces and taking me seriously, reassuring me. I can't just flip a switch. Do you have any resources on that?
Sofi
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Re: Freaking out after past assault

Unread post by Sofi »

Hi phenolphtalein, I hope it's okay that I jump in. I wanna start by saying it's okay that right now you need a lot of reassurance, it's valid and makes sense, and I'm glad he is gentle and gives that to you. Being able to openly communicate about our traumas is extremely important in a relationship, so it sounds like you're on a great track. It's normal for us to still get triggered even though our new partner makes us feel safe. Healing from traumatic events is not a linear process, so some days you might feel more comfortable and other days you might get triggered, and that's okay.
We actually have a super helpful series on here that I think will help. You can read it here: AFTERSHOCKS: THE PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF SEXUAL TRAUMA
Let me know if it did or you have any thoughts you want to share or questions!
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