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View Full Version : Can women who were raped experience sexual pleasure?


gwendy85
03-12-2010, 06:09 AM
What do you guys think? The easy answer would of course be no, and that rape victims are usually traumatized for life, but I also know of a few who are able to move on with their lives.

I have a character who's a rape victim, but it's getting harder for me to write her into a believable scene wherein she is freely able to make love and experience pleasure despite what happened. I've written her lover to be someone gentle, who knows of her past, but re-reading their first sex scene, it didn't come across as believable to me that she would experience pleasure.

What I'm asking is, do you have any suggestions on how the guy can maybe alleviate her fears enough so she could make love to him? What should he do?

Appreciate the input :)

shadowwalker
03-12-2010, 06:16 AM
I would google "rape" and "PTSD" - I did some similar research a few months ago and there's a world of information on the aftermath and recovery/treatment. In a nutshell, it is very possible but doesn't generally just 'happen'. The trauma has to be dealt with first, along with trust issues, self-esteem, dealing with flashbacks, etc.

scarletpeaches
03-12-2010, 06:16 AM
...The easy answer would of course be no, and that rape victims are usually traumatized for life...That would be the wrong answer.

Medievalist
03-12-2010, 06:19 AM
The answer is, as it often is, it depends.

Kitty Pryde
03-12-2010, 06:20 AM
IRL, yes, plenty of them can. In fact, some women experience sexual response during a rape, because of the purely physiological aspects. And some women enjoy roleplaying that they are in a nonconsensual sexual situation. (None of these are bad things BTW.) And yes, I would believe a character enjoying sex after a sexual assault. There are all kinds of people in the world! Other than being gentle, supportive, asking before everything he does, I don't know what else a guy is going to do to make his partner feel safe. I think it's more the work that SHE does before thinking about sex to feel good and safe and confident for herself, that will make the situation feel more realistic/natural.

icerose
03-12-2010, 06:22 AM
Women have climaxed during rape, but it often just adds fuel to the fire. It adds to their guilt which a rape victim does not need more of. I imagine it would feel like being betrayed by your own body on top of all the horrors of being raped.

thothguard51
03-12-2010, 06:23 AM
I have read reports where some women experienced an orgasism during rape and this causes problems with consentual sexual relationships afterward because the woman feels her body betrayed her, or something along those lines.

Its a very difficult topic for many women and the men in their lives afterwards.

veinglory
03-12-2010, 06:23 AM
It doesn't matter what people think, there are facts involved--and yes it can happen. But instead of "pleasure" I would say "physical arousal".

Canotila
03-12-2010, 06:28 AM
It is a lot easier if her new lover does not trigger memories of the rape or rapist in any way.

I have PTSD from a series of rapes of occurred while trapped in a "relationship" from hell. I'm also happily married, and glad to say that the what was done to me has had no effect on intimacy with my husband.

Some people aren't that lucky and do get triggered to some degree while being intimate. The reason it works for me is because my husband, physically, is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the perpetrator. His coloring and build are different. He smells different, his voice is different, etc. Most importantly, I feel safe with him. We spent our first 6 months together only holding hands. He was able to sense what made me uncomfortable and respected me enough to not push it. He earned my trust, and being able to feel safe with him more than anything else lets me be with him without bringing past hangups into certain parts of our relationship.

Sorry if that was too much information.

WildScribe
03-12-2010, 06:49 AM
Yes, women can have healthy, happy sexual relationships after suffering a rape.

artemis31386
03-12-2010, 07:56 AM
Women that have been raped can experience sexual pleasure in the future. Of course it depends as each victim is different in their healing process. A lot of it boils down to trust and being able to move forward to a healthy relationship; which many do eventually.

Giant Baby
03-12-2010, 08:01 AM
What do you guys think? The easy answer would of course be no, and that rape victims are usually traumatized for life, but I also know of a few who are able to move on with their lives.

Traumatized? Probably. Changed? Very fucking likely. But, is s/he "usually" going to be anything? It just doesn't work that way.

I have a character who's a rape victim, but it's getting harder for me to write her into a believable scene wherein she is freely able to make love and experience pleasure despite what happened. I've written her lover to be someone gentle, who knows of her past, but re-reading their first sex scene, it didn't come across as believable to me that she would experience pleasure.

What I'm asking is, do you have any suggestions on how the guy can maybe alleviate her fears enough so she could make love to him? What should he do?

Appreciate the input :)

I think you have to know your character better before you can know how she might respond, and to what. It's not about his "actions" at this point, because there is no generic response to being raped. If you give a little more information about how the rape is manifesting itself in your character's life, you might get a more helpful response.

Also, how long ago did this occur? What's happened to her since? What is her background? Her support system (before this new guy)? But mostly, what is her temperment since, and how did it change from what it was before?

Lastly, what kind of book is this? Who is your audience? It shouldn't matter, perhaps, but it does.

Scoody
03-12-2010, 08:06 AM
I had an affair with a married woman who had been ganged raped while in college and it had some long lasting effects on her sexual relationships. Sex with her had to happen at her own pace. I could not place my hands upon her body unless she took my hands and placed them where she wanted them. She would only have sex if she was on top. She had to feel that she could stop at anytime. If at anytime her movement felt restricted she would freak.

Wiskel
03-12-2010, 11:27 AM
I've written her lover to be someone gentle, who knows of her past, but re-reading their first sex scene, it didn't come across as believable to me that she would experience pleasure.



I'll add my voice to those who are saying that there really is no right, wrong, or predetermined way for anyone to react to a trauma. You can never generalise information from a group of people with shared experiences to one individual.

From a story point of view, you need to figure out why your scene feels uncomfortable to you. My first guess would be that the scene feels like it's happening too quickly.
Have you written enough of the scenes leading up to the bedroom to show that your MC and her partner have a loving and trusting bond?
Have you shown enough of the character of your MC's partner to establish that he is a decent guy and not just pretending to be one?
Have you shown enough of your MC's struggles with what happened to make you feel comfortable showing her being able to overcome it?


If you're feeling too close to the story, then this might be a situation where seeing if beta readers also feel uncomfortable with the scene / timing / pacing is really helpful.

Craig

Viktor Night
03-12-2010, 12:34 PM
What I'm asking is, do you have any suggestions on how the guy can maybe alleviate her fears enough so she could make love to him? What should he do?


I had an affair with a married woman who had been ganged raped while in college and it had some long lasting effects on her sexual relationships. Sex with her had to happen at her own pace ... If at anytime her movement felt restricted she would freak.

Based on this, maybe during their first encounter she ties him up. Him allowing her to tie him up is a huge gesture of trust. It puts the power in her hands and may make her feel more comfortable.

Perhaps it could be approached in stages: 1) Series of awkward encounters where she pulls back and can't go through with it. 2) He makes the extra effort to make her feel safe and puts the power in her hands (ex. getting tied up). 3) Trust is built over a long period of time and at some point she doesn't need to tie him up but still needs to be on top and in some sort of control. 4) Finally she learns to trust him so much that she's able to work up to having a relatively standard sexual encounter, even going so far as to allow him to be on top because she does love and trust him so much.

A few people have said that it all depends on her but I disagree. I think a lot of it depends upon how the male character reacts to her. If he's understanding of the trauma she's experienced, sensitive to her feelings, willing to give her the power and control and do things entirely at her pace, not make a big deal if she can't go through with it and just wants to spend the evening cuddling instead, etc. then I think all that would go a long way towards helping her begin the healing process. If he's not the type of person that can be patient and understanding with her then she may never be able to open up to him.

gwendy85
03-12-2010, 03:51 PM
This is why I love absolutewrite. I was only gone a day and already, I receive a lot of responses, so thank you :)

I've read through the comments. I suppose I should rephrase my earlier statement. I believe, at least in the minds of the general populace (the readers), a rape victim won't be able to experience pleasure in her subsequent sexual encounters but of course, I agree this is wrong in other cases. I've read about bodily betrayal, but I've never considered women having orgasms during a rape. So that does happen? Boy...that's definitely going to cause a heavy amount of guilt.... Can anyone suggest any websites or articles on this? I might be able to use this for revisions and further character developments. I'll be looking for a few now.

I suppose I should've added a few more information. My story is set in World War II. My character was raped by invading soldiers but escaped. She joined the resistance and three years later, encounters the man who would be her lover (by the way, in those three years, she never had a man; just a number of suitors, whom she all refused). Herein lies another problem: her lover reminds her completely of the soldier who raped her, so I suppose she does have to work on a lot of things.

And Viktor Night, thanks for your insight. The scene in my novel is actually similar. No tying up though, but her lover promises her he will not touch her until she says so, and gives her the freedom to touch him.

All your comments have got me thinking. I think I'll have my character ask her lover to cuddle her for a few nights. Just holding, nothing else, until time comes she tells him she's ready, and after a few bumps along the way, they'll do it.

Whew! I think I've got it now (wow, writing those previous paragraphs felt like writing a diary). The original scene was too sudden, with the girl asking the man to make love to her *she has a purpose* (it was almost out of the blue because I've written them as practically at each other's throats in the previous chapters). So maybe I can start with her asking him to hold her as she sleeps, and maybe a week later...there.

Plausible?

Alpha Echo
03-12-2010, 04:00 PM
I was raped when I was 19. I'm now, well, tomorrow, I'll be 29. 10 years have passed.

Before my current SO (soon-to-be-husband), I did not really experience any sexual pleasure. Immediately following the rape, after I decided to get out of bed, I gave up. I had been a virgin - now I wasn't. I didn't care anymore about waiting for someone special, so I slept with anyone. I regret a lot of it, but I never felt anything. I was craving the attention more than anything, but as far as physical pleasure? I didn't know you could really get that out of sex.

I think part of it was me - I was scared. Sure, I was sleeping around, but I never opened myself up to any of them. I wasn't in a secure relationship. I was very guarded and put my head outside of the bed while I was having sex. It's hard to explain, but I never had an orgasm.

Then I met my ex-husband, and I thought I was finally enjoying sex. I did, to a degree. But I was still closed up, even though I told him about what happened. I was always self-conscious, and that might have had something to do with how unstable our relationship was.

Now, with my man...it's incredible. I hope other people get to experience what we experience. I really, honestly think a lot of it has to do with our relationship outside of the bedroom. We're open. We both know and always have known where we stand with each other - there's a level of security I've never had (nor has he). He gets me, he doesn't force anything with me, and for the first time ever, I feel completely comfortable. Enough to let loose and enjoy myself for the first time.

I think, for me, I know anyway, that the important part after being raped was being able to find a relationship that I could trust. Find a man I could trust completely without question, a man who understood me and loved me for exactly who I was. With my ex-husband, I tried to be who he wanted me to be. With all the other guys, I was just a good lay. But with my SO now...he knows all my faults and honest-to-God doesn't give a snit. He knows everything that's happened in my past, good and bad, and doesn't judge. For the first time in my life, I'm comfortable being naked with someone even if I just scarfed down a steak and dessert.

To me, that's what I needed to reach full orgasm. Now that I have that, sexual pleasure is not hard to acheive. :)

gwendy85
03-12-2010, 04:22 PM
Thank you so much Canotila, and also Alpha Echo, for sharing your stories :) You're very brave to be so open about it.

The experiences you shared here in this post have given me further insight, so again, thank you. I'll have to write the lover as truly caring...which I believe I've done to a great degree. It's the girl who has to loosen up so to speak. She too was a virgin prior to the rape, but even before that, she had a boyfriend who had opened up the world of sexual pleasure to her, but they never got to do it coz he died, and then she was raped. So I suppose I can have that as a plausible enough experience that she will still be able to enjoy sex in the future.

Thank you so much again!

PeterL
03-12-2010, 05:25 PM
What do you guys think? The easy answer would of course be no, and that rape victims are usually traumatized for life, but I also know of a few who are able to move on with their lives.


From the women I've known, the easy answer is yes. There is a difference between being traumatized and being incapable of feeling sexual pleasure. I have known women who were greatly affected, but they went on to have lives after that.

Fallen
03-12-2010, 06:27 PM
Going through the unnatural attentions of a step dad, I know that as I reached teen stage I got quite agressive and twisted with my approach (and enjoyment) of sex, just so long as I didn't lose the control, I was happy. Now (at 30, erm, something) the only thing to change is having a hubby who knows when to say to ease of. Sometimes it isn't the doing, but the not doing that gives the greatest sense of enjoyment (and purity, I guess).

But rape victims react differently. Some will find it uncomfortable to be touched, others will go out of their way to be touched. But it's a process which could see either reaction change (I hate my personal space being invaded, to the point I'll cuddle my hubby only when I want and even draw back from my own kids). You may need to reflect that, don't just go for one type of reaction.

DeleyanLee
03-12-2010, 06:56 PM
What do you guys think? The easy answer would of course be no, and that rape victims are usually traumatized for life, but I also know of a few who are able to move on with their lives.

I have a character who's a rape victim, but it's getting harder for me to write her into a believable scene wherein she is freely able to make love and experience pleasure despite what happened. I've written her lover to be someone gentle, who knows of her past, but re-reading their first sex scene, it didn't come across as believable to me that she would experience pleasure.

What I'm asking is, do you have any suggestions on how the guy can maybe alleviate her fears enough so she could make love to him? What should he do?

Getting past events like that is purely individual, so it always depends on the woman involved. The three women I know of who were raped (two by strangers, one on a date) have all worked their way through their traumas and have happy, healthy sex lives now. It can happen.

My suggestion for you is to look at the scene you wrote again and think about what, specifically, reads to you as unbelieveable. I'd lay odds that it's actually a few choice words which cast a shadow over the scene for you and with a bit of tweaking, you can have the scene you were shooting for.

It's always possible, and if you use the right words, it'll be fact for your character.

Good luck.

NewKidOldKid
03-12-2010, 07:05 PM
I had an affair with a married woman who had been ganged raped while in college and it had some long lasting effects on her sexual relationships. Sex with her had to happen at her own pace. I could not place my hands upon her body unless she took my hands and placed them where she wanted them. She would only have sex if she was on top. She had to feel that she could stop at anytime. If at anytime her movement felt restricted she would freak.

The fact that she was a married woman having an affair probably says a lot about her relationship with men too. Maybe it had nothing to do with her rape, but I believe it probably did.

Chris P
03-12-2010, 07:12 PM
Women have climaxed during rape, but it often just adds fuel to the fire. It adds to their guilt which a rape victim does not need more of. I imagine it would feel like being betrayed by your own body on top of all the horrors of being raped.

I know many rape victims who say that this is exactly true, and a hell of a thing to come to terms with.

I have had lovers who were raped, and two of them experienced flashbacks while we were being intimate. In addition to reliving the event, they felt like they let me down and were afraid I'd leave because she couldn't satisfy me. But the drive for sexual pleasure is strong, and these women wanted to be intimate. I learned not to do certain things (different with each), and that certain sex play was off limits (and I'm not talking about BDSM or humiliation; with one it was oral and the other had to have the lights off).

Alpha Echo
03-12-2010, 07:20 PM
I know many rape victims who say that this is exactly true, and a hell of a thing to come to terms with.

I have had lovers who were raped, and two of them experienced flashbacks while we were being intimate. In addition to reliving the event, they felt like they let me down and were afraid I'd leave because she couldn't satisfy me. But the drive for sexual pleasure is strong, and these women wanted to be intimate. I learned not to do certain things (different with each), and that certain sex play was off limits (and I'm not talking about BDSM or humiliation; with one it was oral and the other had to have the lights off).

You know, it's funny. I didn't have any flashbacks with the guys I slept with immediately following the rape. I think I just put myself outside of it all and didn't really think about what was happening b/c it wasn't something I really wanted.

Only when sex went beyond sex and got inimiate did I find myself having flashbacks. I have no idea why that is.

Most of my flashbacks though, are not during sex at all. It's while watching Law and Order, SVU or reading a rape scene or watching one in a movie. Those freak me out, make me shake, make me cry...make me turn it off or close the book.

kuwisdelu
03-12-2010, 07:23 PM
You know, it's funny. I didn't have any flashbacks with the guys I slept with immediately following the rape. I think I just put myself outside of it all and didn't really think about what was happening b/c it wasn't something I really wanted.

Only when sex went beyond sex and got inimiate did I find myself having flashbacks. I have no idea why that is.

Most of my flashbacks though, are not during sex at all. It's while watching Law and Order, SVU or reading a rape scene or watching one in a movie. Those freak me out, make me shake, make me cry...make me turn it off or close the book.

Exact same experiences for an ex of mine.

Didn't keep her from enjoying sex at all, but it did lead to a disconnect between sex and intimacy.

Ken
03-12-2010, 07:39 PM
... probably, but it would take some years for a woman to psychologically recover from such trauma. Professional counseling would help, along with seeing the one who commited the crime apprehended and duly punished:

:flamethrower

DeleyanLee
03-12-2010, 07:55 PM
... probably, but it would take some years for a woman to psychologically recover from such trauma. Professional counseling would help, along with seeing the one who commited the crime apprehended and duly punished:

:flamethrower

Depends on the woman. One of my good friend was stranger raped and got over it almost immediately without a therapist and without the rapist ever being caught or identified. She basically made the decision that she could get over it instead of overwhelming her life. When she went in for marital counseling later, for her first marriage, the counselor said her ex had more problems with the fact that she was raped as a teen than she did.

The therapist also said that she was remarkable and possibly unique in her ability to get over what happened.

It really does depend on the person involved.

kuwisdelu
03-12-2010, 07:58 PM
When she went in for marital counseling later, for her first marriage, the counselor said her ex had more problems with the fact that she was raped as a teen than she did.

That happens a lot, in my experience.

Ken
03-12-2010, 08:02 PM
... your friend is definitely 'remarkable.' Takes a lot to be able to get over something like that on one's own and do so that quickly. Most can't, I'd suppose, and that is no reflection on them. Really horrible crime.

I had a friend who was. The effect on her was devasting. Still get angry when I think on it.

wrangler
03-12-2010, 08:20 PM
It doesn't matter what people think, there are facts involved--and yes it can happen. But instead of "pleasure" I would say "physical arousal".

I couldn't have said it any better myself, VG.

Fallen
03-12-2010, 09:21 PM
Most rape victims react differently at different times. Some will find it uncomfortable to be touched, then go out of their way to be touched (violently if necessary just to get the touch off), other times they'll be seen to get over it and lead a normal sex life. Don't just go for one type of reaction, because rape isn't like that.

I had a stepdad that liked to play incest, the family game for two or more. I know that as I reached teen stage I got quite agressive and twisted with my approach (and enjoyment) of sex, just so long as I kept control, I was happy. Now (at 30, erm, something) the only thing to change is having a hubby who knows when to say ease down. Sometimes in the bedroom it isn't the doing, but the learning just 'to be' that's the key to sexual satisfaction.

backslashbaby
03-13-2010, 12:08 AM
I was drugged with only flashes of consciousness, so that probably makes a huge difference, but I did not have any issues with sex later. I had PTSD, anger, betrayal, and trust issues in a big way. But sex that I chose was still the same, and someone I trusted could still tie me up (theoretically ;)). I didn't consider the episode anything like sex, and I still don't see it that way.

I do have a problem with outright lechery since then. It makes me very angry; I have a hard time just ignoring it like before.