Sex as Self-Harm: Catharsis In Exultation

Ever since I was raped, sex has had an insidious force over my life. In its exhilaration it scares me, in its potential for destruction it excites my depressed self. 

While it took me two years to figure out that sex is one of my more prominent modes of self-harm, this power of retrospect has not assisted my recovery. If anything, my awareness that I can manipulate my sexuality to hurt myself has been my ultimate vice, a lecherous perversion. If anything, I wish I knew sooner.   

Sex is never more than two steps away from my drunken self. In losing inhibition, I gain introspected violence. In forcing myself into submission, I allow another to harm me. In consenting to sex, I consent to self-harm by proxy. 

In having sex, I force myself to relive my trauma, a self-prescribed shock therapy. 

There is always a sense of self prescribed violence in my sexual encounters too. Do I desire violent intercourse because I want to relive that moment? To force myself to feel the indescribable pain on an infinite loop? Or do I use it to gain some sense of revenge, to give the new face on my pillow the essence of my attacker, to fight back now I finally have the strength. Or perhaps, is there some sadistic element to my mental illness? A voice in my head, and hand on the wheel, that believes I deserve this pain. I ought to be hurt because I am an awful person, sex being at the centre of this, for I’ve always been laced with too much cowardice to follow through with suicide. I ask myself these questions daily. An infinite loop of remorseless ambiguity. Bleeding poison into my being. 

Trauma exhorts trauma.  

I wish I could ask my mother these questions. Though sex being a greater taboo than the marks on my arms, the scars on my knuckles from years of forced purges, these questions lie with me alone. To never be answered, to grow only more powerful. The cycle begins again. 

Who will be my next victim? My next oblivious attacker. My best friend? Destroying the friendships I’ve killed myself to make, almost killing myself upon losing them. 

Or will it be the next man who loves me. Forgiving me for my defiled past. Allowing me to continue to live in it. Absently consumed. Pain liberated. Unless true love will save me. 

For a long time, I have learned to live with my trauma through writing. Expressing hopes for a life unlived. Displacing the guilt that objectifies me. For a long time, I thought I was writing about a boy. An ethereal saviour. Yet in reality, this hope only exists as the perpetual nightmare of my inner demon; a daydream breathing. 

On reflection, I don’t long to be loved. No longer am I yearning to be worthy. I write about me: the me I want to find in the darkness, expelling old demons. I want to leave this car behind, to no longer be the passenger of my own vessel. But instead, I long to be bold. Powerful in fearlessness. 

In writing this, I am bold. I am no longer the passenger, victim, object. What is identity anyway? We can only be seen for how we present ourselves. Identity is not finite, it grows and transpires. In honesty and transparency, passivity and fraudulence.

In writing this, I am bold. I am the one I love; the kisses I breathe. The blood that will always bleed.

In writing this, I am free. 

By: Bethany Davison

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