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How I Used Sex Toys to Heal from Sexual Trauma

Using Sex Toys to Heal Sexual Trauma

Trigger Warning: This article contains topics surrounding sexual assault and mental health.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is something that most folks would associate with war veterans, but it is a lot more common than you may have been led to believe. And it’s only been in recent years that we’ve finally seen a dialogue surrounding sexual trauma open up.

As a sexual assault survivor myself, I was diagnosed with PTSD a few months after the incident. And as a result, I had to learn ways to reconnect to my body and my sexuality to feel safe within my skin. And something I found greatly beneficial on my healing journey was sex toys.

So, let’s talk about how you can use sex toys to reconnect to your body after experiencing trauma.

But first, what is post-traumatic stress disorder and how can it affect your libido?

The brain is a wonderful thing, and it can go to extreme lengths to try to protect you from harm. When experiencing a traumatic incident (for example, a sexual assault, a car crash, domestic abuse etc) a signal is sent to the brain which can trigger your fight or freeze response (an involuntary physiological effect that happens in the body and mind when a person feels threatened).

The brain is so panicked that it doesn’t want to process the trauma you’re experiencing as a memory. As a result, you are forced to relive the trauma over and over again. Say you smell something that reminds you of the trauma, this triggers the brain which then sends signals to the body, and you can actually feel the physical and mental sensations you felt during the original incident.

It’s like a memory replaying itself on a loop at hyper speed, except your brain can’t establish that it’s a memory. You’re forced to believe it’s happening to you at that very moment, regardless of whether you are in any real danger or safe in your own bed. It’s an experience I would not wish upon anyone, but unfortunately, it’s a nightmare many New Zealanders endure. Studies indicate that 1.3 to 3 percent of New Zealanders will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lives (that’s roughly 15,000 kiwis!) and Māori and Pacifica communities are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.

How does trauma impact the libido?

The traumatic experience doesn’t need to be linked to a sexual assault for trauma to impact your libido. The worst thing about living with PTSD is that you have no say in what your triggers are, or when they’ll cause a flashback. When you’re trying to be intimate with someone (especially with sexual trauma), it’s easy to experience something your brain will perceive as a threat and the fight, flight or freeze response will take hold over you.

After my sexual assault, there was a period in time when I couldn’t even stand the thought of being touched by another person. But I was still craving intimacy. I realised I needed to slowly reintroduce touch to my body, but in a controlled setting where I called the shots. And that’s when sex toys came along to save the day!

How do sex toys help heal sexual trauma?

When I began my healing journey with sex toys, I started small and slowly worked my way up. I’m a vulva owner, and a big trigger for me is vaginal penetration. So I knew I needed to avoid toys that I had to insert. The Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Genertation became my favourite companion during my healing journey. What I love about the Satisfyer Pro is that it stimulates the clitoris with suction as opposed to vibration.

I would start by creating a safe space for myself (my safe space being my bed). I made sure to have things around me I could physically engage with in case I triggered a flashback and needed to be brought back to reality (scented candles are my go-to! The five senses are a great means of grounding yourself).

I told myself that I was in complete control here: I was allowed to stop at any given moment. I did not need to worry about having my boundaries disrespected, because I was the only one in the room with me.

I then placed The Satisfyer Pro on my clitoris and began the dance. There were moments when I would start to notice intrusive thoughts, and when that happened, I simply stopped. I took a few moments to breathe, returning to my body and reconnecting to the room around me.

As time went on, I found I was experiencing less intrusive thoughts. I believe this was a direct result of this practice: I was demonstrating to my brain that not only am I allowed to be in control, but I’m also capable of being in control.

Reclaiming autonomy over your sexual pleasure

Over time, I was able to start incorporating different toys into this practice. Once I was able to connect to and pleasure my clitoris again, I felt ready to try penetration. I started exploring temperature play with my glass dildo, putting it in the fridge for a few hours prior (you can also place it in hot water for warm sensations!). The sensations caused by the temperature play were a great feeling to focus on, and when I noticed intrusive thoughts returning, I would redirect my focus to the sensations I was experiencing.

I finally brought myself to orgasm with the Share Satisfaction Kama. While an orgasm doesn’t need to be your end goal, it was an important moment in my healing journey as I finally felt safe to surrender to my own pleasure. I love the Share Satisfaction Kama because it stimulates both the G-spot and the clitoris. It’s an insertion toy, but it doesn’t feel intrusive. The vibrating provides a warm sensation that makes you feel full without needing to thrust it back and forth. You simply insert it into the vagina, turn it on to your preferred vibration setting, and allow it to work its magic. Over time I found myself wanting to apply pressure. Lightly pushing it towards my G-spot until it brought me to a sensational, mind-tingling and full-body orgasm.

This was a breakthrough moment for me that resulted in cradling my body to my chest and crying (happy tears!). So don’t be surprised if you suddenly become overwhelmed with emotions, perhaps resulting in tears of relief. Allow yourself the moment to release these emotions, it can be cathartic and extremely liberating.

You deserve to enjoy sexual pleasure

Trauma can result in feeling ashamed of yourself. It lowers your self-esteem and convinces you that you aren’t worthy of happiness. But you are, and you deserve to feel safe in your body. Your trauma does not need to define you, nor does it need to dictate your life. There are ways you can slowly rebuild trust in yourself. And over time, you’ll be able to trust others again too.

It happened to me, and I believe it can happen to you. Because you deserve to heal.

Illustrations by Aimée Sullivan. Follow her on Instagram: @aimeeisokay

Content Disclaimer:

The information in this article has been fact checked and reviewed for accuracy by Adulttoymegastore’s team of content specialists and sexual wellness experts, including Sex Educator Emma Hewitt.

Adulttoymegastore does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for illness. Any information published on this website, either by Adulttoymegastore or its authors, is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a medical professional.

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Vixen Temple, Queer Sex-positive Sex Worker, Activist & Performer
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26th June 2022
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