A Sex-Repulsed Sex Blogger

Morgan’s vulva with an “out of order” sticker super-imposed upon it

Content note: this post refers to both self-harm and sexual abuse, but doesn’t go into excruciating detail about either, and of course deals with being sex-repulsed as a result of sexual trauma. If that’s gonna be hard for you, give today’s post a miss – as always, your wellbeing comes first! 💙


I don’t exactly keep it a secret that I’ve experienced sexual abuse. There’s no shame in having been subjected to that, and I try to be vocal about the importance of consent and the devastating effects its absence can have. I talk about struggling to masturbate and about PTSD symptoms like anxiety, hypervigilance and self-hatred, both on and offline. But one thing I feel vulnerable and frightened to post about is the sex repulsion that so often accompanies sexual abuse.

Among my friends, I am the sex nerd. I am known for loving sex – having it, learning about it, celebrating its importance and beauty. I started a sex blog because I love to think about and write about sex. The fact that I sometimes experience severe sex repulsion is not exactly in line with this branding; even though “sex-positive” and “sex-repulsed” don’t have to be mutually exclusive, it feels incongruent and, frankly, embarrassing. My personal branding aside, I’m a human adult in 2021 and to admit that there are times I find even hints of sexual activity decidedly icky kind of makes me cringe. I’m also worried about lending credence to the perception of all promiscuous people as traumatised individuals who secretly hate sex, and themselves for having it, because there are people who have a lot of sex simply because they really like it. Typically, I am one of those people.

Except when I’m not.

There is nothing about experiencing trauma-related sex repulsion that makes you less sex positive. Our brains are great at finding and remembering patterns; the traumatised brain will link various sensory experiences to memories of abuse, so that the same suffering can be avoided in the future. Fear of, or being grossed out by, sex in response to trauma is common and it’s your brain trying to keep you safe, regardless of your values regarding sexual freedom that exist separately from all that. Going through this doesn’t mean you’re weak and it doesn’t mean you’re permanently doomed to be afraid of sex, either; time as well as counselling and other mental health support can help you to tackle that, if it’s something you’d like to work on. With work, you can decouple the sensory experiences of sex from the abject terror and ickiness associated with your trauma, so you can return to enjoying sex (when and if you want to). I know all of this, and I say it to you compassionately, but I struggle to believe it when I say it to myself.

It sneaks up on me. I find my interest in sex education-y content waning, but chalk it up to unusually-limited processing power, and wanting to “save that for when I’ll actually absorb the information”. When my fiancée, who I live with, suggests sex or kink things, I end up giving her a thousand reasons why “not tonight” – I’m tired, my joints hurt, I just ate and my stomach is still full, anything that makes it clear it’s nothing to do with her or my attraction to her. I kind of convince myself that the reason I give her is the only reason, because I don’t want to dig into why sex and kink seem unappealing. I ignore porn on my Twitter timeline and assume it’s because, you know, there’s a lot of porn around and I’m looking for news. Eventually, though, I run out of excuses, or get tired of making them, and I acknowledge that I am experiencing a problem. It becomes apparent that the thought of sex makes me increasingly anxious, and that my own arousal in particular triggers a desire to just turn inside out, escape my own body somehow. Trying to engage with sex and kink when I’m in this state is likely to give rise to thoughts of self-harm, and/or dissociation. And then I have to ask myself: do I care?

Once I’m sufficiently sex-repulsed, usually through a refusal to address whatever is triggering me, sex is scary and gross on an animal level, and it takes effort to walk my brain back to a state of neutrality around it. I realised recently that one of the reasons I typically immerse myself in sex ed materials and kinky communities is so that I can’t reach the level of disconnect I’m currently at, and can instead maintain near-constant contact with the bit of my brain that actually likes and is not scared of sex. Once I’m this far out to sea, though, I’m well aware of how much effort it will take me to swim back, and I’m too disconnected from the liking-sex part of me to actually want to put that effort in, because I can only understand on the most abstract of levels that I will enjoy sex again, but that the longer I wait the harder it is. The more often I’m triggered by sex or kink things, the more closely my brain links sex and suffering, as is always the case with encountering triggers outside of a very purposeful interaction with them. It’s therefore necessary for me to find ways to encounter sex/kink things without spending the whole interaction in fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode, if I can actually find the motivation to arrange those encounters.

So what now? Well, tonight I’m going to a very familiar kink event populated by very familiar people, with the option of hiding or leaving if needs be. Things which are specifically sex-related are really challenging for me to engage with, but the biggest challenge is engaging with my own arousal, so I think a good first step for me is to engage with educational media rather than strictly erotic media. Hopefully, the familiar educators whose content I follow will reassure my brain that sex is not a faraway scary thing, but a familiar and safe part of my life. From there, I also have to, at some point, try to actually do sex things with my actual body. I can’t even contemplate having solo sex yet, so I imagine I’ll end up doing some kink things with my fiancée that maybe do or maybe don’t escalate into sex-and-kink things, since she is also very familiar and safe-feeling. Eventually I’ll be back up to my neck in sex ed stuff, kink plans and orgasms, but I am going to try and take it slowly to avoid reinforcing the stress response.

Wish me luck!

Am I A Victim Or A Survivor?

Note: this blog post discusses, but doesn’t go into detail about, trauma resulting from being the victim and/or survivor of abuse. If that’s tricky for you, ignore this blog post but watch my Twitter for other, sexier posts in the future!


Originally, this blog post was going to be one word long, and that single word was going to be “yes”. But that seemed a tad bit brief for a blog post, so I thought I’d go into a little more detail.

Y’all know I dislike binaries. The victim/survivor binary might not look so much like a binary, but it is one, because it’s a pair of uncomfortable, mutually exclusive boxes, neither of which I can cram my traumatised little self into – and I’m sure that’s the case for other people, too.

A lot of people who have survived things want to call themselves survivors, and I personally have very little interest in policing the language that individuals use to describe their experiences of the world. I also understand the impulse to reframe trauma so that instead of being something that happened to you, it’s something you actively engaged with and survived. That puts you in more control of the world around you, and highlights how vicious of a fight it can be to make it through trauma alive. I get it.

What I don’t get is the insistence that survivors of trauma are only that, and not also victims of it. People shy away from the word “victim” as though it’s contagious, and I know that they’re trying not to step on the autonomy of already-traumatised individuals by using language they disprefer or by implying that they simply passively endured their trauma. The problem comes when someone wants to describe themselves as a victim and then they’re contradicted by people who think that the word “victim” is disempowering.

Listen, for other people, I’m sure it is disempowering, and it’s not the word I default to for referring to every individual survivor (I usually tend to refer to them with their names). But for me, personally, it’s not disempowering. It feels accurate. I don’t feel like I passively endured my trauma – I feel like I fought with it, and I do feel like I survived – but I do feel like I have been a victim. I have been intentionally selected from a world full of people by abusers looking for the easiest target within arms’ reach. I have been victimised repeatedly, assigned the experience of the victim by people who had more power than me to decide our roles. For me, the word “victim” is helpful.

The thing is, I survived my trauma, sure. I fought against it wherever I had the strength. But I also survived by doing things I’m not proud of, lying and screaming and hiding, and through unique combinations of privilege and sheer luck. There are plenty of people who wouldn’t have survived my trauma, and that’s no fault of their own. I don’t want to imply that I’m stronger than people who die at the hands of their abusers by celebrating my feat of survival. I do want to celebrate my survival, don’t get me wrong, but that usually involves a sarcastic toast to people who’ve wanted me dead every birthday and graduation, rather than any particular label I give myself.

The other thing that gets under my skin about victim discourse is the notion of “playing the victim”. This is a sort of vague and nebulous concept that seems to be applied at random to people who are having a whine, people who are rebelling against legitimate injustice, people who are disagreeing with you, etc., etc. Someone who is “playing the victim” is implied to be illegitimately casting themselves in the role of victim when in fact they are the antagonist, but it’s a very convenient trio of words to apply to someone you are in the process of abusing. The way that “playing the victim” gets thrown around creates an even more hostile environment for people recovering from trauma to discuss their experiences, because we already do enough second-guessing ourselves about who the true aggressor was (hint: it wasn’t the traumatised person) and we already convince ourselves that our feelings of hurt, mistrust, fear, injustice, anger, grief, etc., are a melodramatic response to a situation in which we weren’t really the victim.

“Victim” is a helpful word for me because it helps me to understand my role as someone who was victimised, who was harmed by inescapable power dynamics and choices made by human beings. “Survivor” is a helpful word for me because it reminds me that I fought, that I didn’t just allow my trauma to happen to me but that I actively survived the process of victimisation. I think we need both words! I just also think that if you ever correct someone’s self-description from “victim” to “survivor”, you’re being a dick, because while both of those words can be accurate, it’s polite to use the one that a person actually supplies to you – kinda like pronouns, and names, and most other principles of addressing or referring to someone politely. 

(That’s pretty much the only politeness rule I know, on account of being an autistic gremlin with little interest in social niceties but some interest in communicating compassionately and effectively with other humans. Just… believe people when they tell you who they are.)

Loving A Paramedic During A Pandemic

Stock image of surgical face masks with a title overlaid on it which reads "Loving A Paramedic During A Pandemic"

Note: This post refers to the hypothetical death of a loved one, bulimia and suicidal ideation, as well as of course the Covid pandemic – I’ve got something a lot sexier coming soon, so if any of those topics are hard for you, please give this one a miss! You look after you 💙

I wrote this post mostly across Spring 2021 when I was very angry, and it shows. Enjoy!


March 2020

We’re on our way to Tesco for whatever bread and toilet paper they might have left. My fiancée doesn’t want to use her NHS ID to jump the queue; she feels it would be cheeky when she won’t be working in the coming 24 hours, and there’s nothing we’ll starve without.

The car is stopped at the crest of the hill before Tesco, waiting for the lights to change, and we’re talking about what happens if she dies.

At this point, we don’t know what Covid can and cannot do, nor what the NHS can and cannot do. The news is saturated with death and illness, and I fiddle with the shopping list as we discuss what happens if she becomes another tragedy. What happens with the house? The car? The PS4? She’s a registered organ donor. She doesn’t want a big, miserable funeral. I drag items from the shopping list around so that all the veg is together and so are all the soft drinks and snacks. 

What happens to me?

I try not to be selfish, but in the process I have to swallow my fear. It makes me think of my bulimia days, when everything I swallowed was fear, and I just had to hope I got somewhere private before I needed to puke it all back up. If not, I spent the day feeling tainted, terror casting unflattering shadows over my face.

I finally look her in the eye because I have to, because I have to tell her I love her. I have to tell her I’m proud of her, and that I bear no resentment towards her for running onto the front line, the house and the car and the me be damned. I would do the same thing, I tell her, and I knew she was a run-onto-the-front-line person when I proposed. Whatever happens over the next few months, with Covid or with anything else, we’re in it together.

The traffic moves and we inch towards Tesco with my now-immaculate shopping list.

 

Summer 2020

I couldn’t tell you what month it is. I’m being passed around the Midlands like a suicidal hot potato depending on who might be able to keep me alive this week. My fiancée is miles away, working long shifts and having wobbles in between them. It’s nearly the anniversary of the night I proposed, under the stars with a titanium ring (the most indestructible metal I could afford), promising her the rest of my life, or the rest of hers – whichever ends first.

I didn’t expect it to be a race, but Covid combined with the poverty of the NHS and the unremitting greed of the cunts in charge seem to have pushed us over the starting line. I do what little I can to slow her down – phone calls, gifts in Animal Crossing, every funny Internet picture I can find – but I’m busy tripping over my own feet, and the finish line keeps inching closer.

The graphs are curving upwards and I check them every 4p.m., then consult the news. My thumb hurts from switching between data and news and the social networks where my friends live and die. I click it back into place so I can send my fiancée another meme.

 

January 2021

To say I’m not a morning person is an understatement; it might be more accurate to say I’m barely a person in the mornings at all. Still, when my fiancée’s alarm goes off at 4 a.m., I stagger downstairs ahead of her. I get us both cans of Monster from the fridge and I pound mine like I’m a fresher again, only this time the fuzziness is exhaustion, not booze. I help her assemble her lunch, remind her to take her meds and tell her I love her at least a few times before she kisses me goodbye and heads off for another shift, all before the birds have started with their dawn chorus.

She tells me every time that I don’t have to get up with her, but truthfully I don’t know how many more of these bleary-eyed breakfasts we might have, and at least I get to nap during the day. Besides, I have to be the one to make her sandwiches, because I have to put love into them so they taste better.

 

When she brought Covid home, I wasn’t surprised. I knew it was only a matter of time, which is why I stopped visiting my mum (asthmatic, with a boyfriend in heart failure) when I started living with my fiancée. (I stopped visiting anyone, obviously, but I miss my mum the most, and she’s the person it would be the most dangerous for me to infect. Life is cruel like that.) I didn’t feel any fear that I hadn’t already faced and compartmentalised, even when it became evident I was Covid-positive too. I was irked by the facts of the situation, that this would mean two weeks of maddening self-isolation for us both and that I felt run down as all hell, but what I felt most was a hot, indignant anger – not at my fiancée, or even at whichever patient it might have been who gave her Covid, but at the people who didn’t care. 

I want to believe I’m a patient, compassionate person, but I was already infuriated by the people – on the news, on social media, that I see in town – who just didn’t care. I have some degree of sympathy for the people who believe that the coronavirus is a hoax or some kind of government/5G/Bill Gates plot, because I too am deeply untrusting, scared and confused. But the people who just didn’t give a shit, who are going to parties or baby showers or raves or their mate’s house just for a cheeky visit, were already pissing me off long before my fiancée tested positive. I’ve been spending long days alone with my thoughts while she worked, missing my mum and concerts and nights out with so much intensity that it sometimes physically hurt, and seeing story after story about people who flouted the rules simply because they wanted to, more than they wanted to keep other humans safe.

So I was already pissed off with people’s selfishness and recklessness, the government’s prioritisation of money over human lives and a thousand other things, when I found out that my missus now had an illness that we still know very little about (and what we do know isn’t reassuring), as a direct result of saving other people’s lives at work. Again, I want to believe that I’m patient and compassionate, but two weeks of monitoring our temperatures and oxygen sats in between aches and pains and a lot of coughing made me want to punch some people in the face. I want so badly to let go of this anger, which is white-hot enough to burn me, but I check the clock again, wondering if she’s been for her meal break yet (probably not), and I feel it sear my insides – but all I can do is wait, so I wait.

 

She arrives home safe and brings the cold in with her, the bite of January blowing through the hall and into the living room. I ask her about her shift and she tells what I already know: that it was exhausting, and miserable, and she missed me. We manage to scrape something or other together for dinner, we watch a YouTube video or five, and then she goes to bed. She apologises for being so tired, for not being talkative, for going so long without fucking me, and I wave all of it away. I don’t tell her how relieved I am, every time, that she got home in one piece. I don’t tell her that I can think of countless reasons she might not have – combative patients, cars that don’t stop for blue lights, a terror attack – but I do tell her that she doesn’t owe me an apology for anything.

The people who owe me a fucking apology are probably at a rave right now.