Wifey Wednesday: Sexual Abuse Really Messes with Your Sex Life

How Sexual Abuse Affects Your Sex Life--and your marriage

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! Today Mary Demuth is joining us to share her story about how sexual abuse affected her sex life.

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When I speak one on one with people who have been sexually abused, a great majority of them have a difficult time with sex.

They either border on addiction or have sworn off sex entirely (even in marriage).

Some divorce because they simply cannot have sex with their spouse. It’s a real problem, but so few talk about it.

My own story and journey of healing is chronicled in my memoir Thin Places. I was molested at five years old during my kindergarten career by neighborhood bullies, who eventually brought their friends in on the violation. I told my babysitter. She said she’d tell my mom (but never did), and the boys continued to violate me, which led me to believe that not one adult on earth would protect me. I grew a fierce determination to protect myself, so I feigned sleep to get out of the attacks. Providentially, we moved at the end of that year, far enough away from those boys that I didn’t have to endure their violation any more.

But boy did they stay with me. They haunted my dreams. They obscured my view of sex.

They made me think that my sole purpose in this life was to be used and violated.

I don’t know how I was able to walk the aisle of marriage a virgin—it’s truly God’s grace. Technically, of course, I wasn’t. All those violations from the past ensured that. But when it became my choice, I found the strength to say no.

Truth be told, I walked a strange line between yearning and utter terror. As a fatherless girl, I wanted nothing more than to have a boyfriend fill up all the empty spaces of me, but when my love interest became interested, I ran one thousand miles away, completely terrified. I worried they’d try to make me do things I didn’t ever want to do.

When I got engaged, I worried a lot about sex. My wedding night was not something I anticipated with joy or expectation. The terror refrained inside me. I felt five again.

I shared those fears with my husband, and we made it through. And I’m frankly quite surprised (it is the gift of God) that I can enjoy sex.

But it’s taken many years over the past twenty-two to get to a healthy place. I still disconnect.

I can’t seem to engage my emotions or my whole self. If I enjoy sex, I still have the feeling that I’m legitimizing the abuse. I’ve come to a place of acceptance, too, that I may never be the sexy wife who is “all that” for her husband. My growth has been tremendous, but I still have scars.

We’ve learned to talk about it, not an easy thing to do. My husband knows I’m trying, that I’m not giving up. I’ve been able to communicate my triggers to him, which has helped a lot.

And through it all, I honestly have to cry out to Jesus to give me a healthy view of sex.

It absolutely does not come naturally to me. My fallback is revulsion.

All this stinks. It’s not fair what those boys stole the most precious part of me. It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to my husband. They violated, and I’m left to navigate the minefield of memories and feelings.

I walk with a giant limp in the sexy wife arena. I still feel outright rage when I read that for the sake of my husband, I’m supposed to be adventurous and wild, that to be this way represents true spousal godliness. Because honestly? Those words just make me feel less than. Those are a set of guidelines I’ll probably never meet.

I haven’t given up. I press on to be whole. But I also know my limitations. And I know that many of you are reading this and saying, yes, yes. Mind if I offer you grace?

It’s okay to struggle in this area. It’s normal. I give you permission to say it’s frightening and bewildering. I pray you’ll find the words to communicate with your spouse how you feel, how this is hard for you. I hope for an understanding spouse who loves you utterly for who you are, not how you perform. I want to tell you that it does get better, but that you won’t improve by simply trying to on sexy clothes or offering your body as a fruit plate. True sexual liberation comes from the inside out, where Jesus walks into those terrible memories and mourns alongside you. I don’t have the answers. I still can’t reconcile my own sexual exploitation with a loving God, other than to say He has used those awful events to make me more empathetic to those who have walked similar paths. And the thrill that comes when I’m able to offer words of encouragement and truth salves the wound a bit. Whether you’re a man or a woman, hear this: You are beautiful. You are worthy of being cherished. You are worth healing. Stay on the course. Holler your anger if you have to. But keep asking Jesus for healing. And keep offering grace to fellow strugglers.

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Mary DeMuth is an author, speaker, and writing mentor who took a long path to publication. When her children were young, she spent ten years writing in obscurity. After creating miles of unpublished words, she began to find success in small venues—regional magazines, a local paper, then national magazines.

Her first published book, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (2005),ushered in thirteen more, including parenting guides, a memoir, and six novels. In the midst of all that, she and her husband carted their three kids off to France, where they were church-planting missionaries nearly three years. Now stateside, Mary lives with her husband and their teens in Texas, where she writes full time and mentors others toward publication. Mary speaks around the country and the world about living uncaged, parenting well, and writing great prose. Find out more at www.marydemuth.com and http://www.notmarked.com. Purchase Not Marked on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or autographed from Mary.

 

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Now it’s your turn! Have any marriage thoughts for us today? Link up below by putting the URL of a MARRIAGE post into the linky. And be sure to link back here so other people can read all these great marriage articles! It’s a great way to build traffic for your blog, and I often highlight some posts on Facebook and Twitter, so link up below!

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Comments

  1. Wow Mary, thank you so much for sharing! Although I can only imagine what you talk about here I know that there are many ladies that can relate to you! I believe you open honest thought and feelings will for sure help many! Thank you for doing what you do!
    Cassie recently posted…3 Ways to Deal with Your Messy ManMy Profile

  2. Sadly, one in three don’t have to imagine what she is talking about, Cassie. It’s something I think most sex and relationship bloggers don’t always keep in mind. We always think we are speaking to otherwise “normal” people with all the typical problems. We don’t always consider the pressure being placed upon them when we unwittingly counsel adventure, abandon, and experimentation as a way to ramp up their sexual relationship with their husbands.
    Dan recently posted…Priceless!My Profile

  3. You have no idea how refreshing it is to hear that other women are going through this also. Unfortunately, I didn’t save myself for marriage, and although I knew it was wrong, I feel that my bad choices were a direct result of what happened to me. Now as a wife, I have been left to deal with not only the scars of what happened, but also the consequences of my bad choices. The healing that the Lord is bringing me through is coming mainly through forgiveness, of others and myself. This forgiveness has only come by knowing Christ’s forgiveness for myself. There are days where I can find myself so angry at the man responsible but those are the days where I hear that small voice say “how can your standards for forgiveness be higher than mine?”
    The Lord is faithful and just. I’m so grateful for the beautiful transformation that God has brought into my life, but it wasn’t always that way. Thank you for this post!

  4. Hi Mary, Thanks so much for sharing here today. It IS so unfair what happened to you…I was not the one violated in my family but repressed memories have surfaced of those close to me. It is so, so hard to know this is all-too-common for so many women and my heart just breaks. Thank you for all you do Mary in sharing YOUR story. I hope I can offer your book and story to those I love who have never really opened the doors to their pain…it is true–only Jesus can bring beauty from these ashes…Amen, and let it be so.
    Abby recently posted…Lessons from the hill :: dance together…toward homeMy Profile

  5. I’m so excited that Sheila is highlighting your book and story here, Mary! Your story, however painful, I’m certain resonates with so many women. It even resonates with me and I don’t think (barring any blocked memories) I have been sexually abused. We can all get something from the wisdom of your journey. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to go where God leads and your husband leads you!
    Beth recently posted…6 Steps to Effective Boundary ConversationsMy Profile

  6. Wow. I cannot tell you how these lines resonated with me: “I walk with a giant limp in the sexy wife arena. I still feel outright rage when I read that for the sake of my husband, I’m supposed to be adventurous and wild, that to be this way represents true spousal godliness. Because honestly? Those words just make me feel less than. Those are a set of guidelines I’ll probably never meet.”

    Thank you for sharing! xoxo
    MandyP recently posted…So I Have This Idea To Get To Know Each Other Better…My Profile

    • Where in the world did that quote come from? Oh good lord if thats what new age christians are teaching the poor women. Mary Pride in her book The Way Home has a wonderful chapter called The JOY of unkinky sex. Wonderful! I recommend every Christian woman struggling to be “all that” drop the act totally. Daughters of the King are NOT porn stars and dont need props, costumes,devices, whatever…. Seriously. If you have to jump through hoops to turn your hubby on to please his sexual appetite then there is something already seriously wrong….could be undisclosed sexual addiction or sexual idolatry. BOTH sexes have to maintain control of their sexual appetites and maintain Godly standards both before and after marriage….marriage does NOT mean or equal anything goes in the marriage bed…if someone is teaching you that RUN. The Holy Spirit makes you uneasy about things you shouldn’t be doing….even in the bedroom…yes He is there too.

      • Jenifer, the quote is from the article above, something that Mary said. But I agree–intimacy is a beautiful thing, and too often we make it shallow and degrading.

  7. Anonymous Please says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! This is the most articulate, succinct way I have seen this put. The guilt and shame (unintentionally) heaped upon those of us who have experienced such things can be agonizing. If only everyone realized how deep the damage really goes! One of the things that has surprised me the most is how and when these pains can resurface. Often this causes even more guilt and shame. Even though intellectually I understand I have no control over it, the emotions still come…and it takes a lot of time, energy, and prayer to deal with them.

    The line “I still can’t reconcile my sexual exploitation with a loving God” struck me deeply. May I share with you how I see it? There is evil in this world that has been there since the fall of man. Those dark, evil places are the very absence of God. He was not there when I suffered those torturous things, because that was man’s sin. But over and over, He sent people to me to help me find a way into His light. (For example, He sent His children knocking door to door offering Bible studies in the neighborhood I grew up in.) He sent these amazing people who loved me with the agape style love only found in His presence, and refused to give up on me. And He waited patiently as I learned (and continue to) what His plans for my life are.

    God doesn’t cause such great pains, but He definitely uses our painful experiences to help teach us and others great lessons. Just look at how many women you help through your writing! (Myself included. Thank you again. :))

  8. Thank you for sharing your story, Mary. I hurt for the little girl inside you even as I know the woman is overcoming through Christ. Blessings!
    Kendra Burrows recently posted…Hope Runs – A Book ReviewMy Profile

  9. Anonymous Husband says:

    Thank you so much for this post. You wrote, “I walked a strange line between yearning and utter terror” That statement helps my have compassion for my wife. It gives me insight as to why my wife will tease me sexually and then put on the brakes when I pursue her. She had a part of her ripped away when she was a child.

  10. I completely get everything you said. I pray before and during sex almost every single time. Over twenty years we’ve been navigating this and I just never know when I’m going to feel repulsed. It’s also a constant battle, the not knowing when a trigger will arrive. Something someone says? Someone who looks like my abuser? Something on tv? So many ways. And i am constantly thankful for a husband who is understanding. While I’ve forgiven my abuser, there are days where I have to forgive again because of the impact the abuse has on my life. We’ve been robbed of something that should be sacred in marriage. I’m so glad to see so many of us survivors standing up and speaking about this subject. There are too many suffering to keep sweeping it under the rug and pretending it isn’t affecting real lives and real marriages. I’ll admit, I sort of hope that there is sex in heaven with our spouses so that some of us can experience it the way God intended for husbands and wives…
    Melinda recently posted…Do You Make This 1 Mistake?My Profile

  11. I am a guy who doesn’t struggle with the same thing as the author but very similar things and I think this article helped immensely and came along when I needed it.

  12. I don’t know how to let God into this mess. The memories, feelings of guilt and shame – reinforced by failed intimacy in marriage, feelings of worthlessness and sometimes even hopelessness!! Yes, I understand – on an intellectual level – the ramifications of the fall and sin, but I struggle to understand how He could allow sick, sleazy men to ruin the lives of such young girls…. is that what a loving father does? I really wish that I didn’t have these thoughts and I hate that I have these doubts,. but squashing them away only causes more pain.

    • I think we all have questions sometimes, and I think that’s okay. I think God’s big enough to handle our doubts. I hope and pray that He can give you some light in something that is so dark.

  13. You hit me to a Tee. I used to have sex with my husband because that’s what you are supposed to do. It sebt me to such a dark place. I have clawed my out with my feet still dangling on the edge. I have refused to have sex because I don’t want to go back there. Plus my husband is verbaly abusive. Doesn’t help the situation at all. He is doing better. He just never talks to me. We have NO connection what so ever. At least I know there is one ither person out there that feels the same
    Now to just figure out how to work through it.

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  1. […] Sharing with Wedded Wednesday and Wifey Wednesday. […]

  2. […] Shared at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum […]

  3. […] Yesterday Mary DeMuth talked about how childhood sexual abuse had really impacted her sex life with her husband. She just wasn’t able to be “that sexy wife” that we’re “supposed” to be. […]

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