Trigger Warnings: Childhood abuse and rape
Just the Tip is a sex and relationship column hosted by queer non-monogamous kinkster Jera Brown. Here you will find interviews with sexuality researchers and educators as well as smart and compassionate responses to anonymous questions. If you have a sex or love question you’d like Jera to answer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM Jera on Instagram or Twitter @thejerabrown.
This article was guest-written for Rebellious Magazine by Ignacio G Rivera and Aredvi Azad. Ignacio and Aredvi are the forces behind The Heal Project, a nonprofit that works to prevent and end childhood sexual abuse (CSA) through healing the wounds of sexual oppression and embracing sexual liberation.
If you’re a survivor of sexual violence, join Ignacio and Aredvi on Wednesday, April 21 for a storytelling and Q&A event hosted by Rebellious Magazine. Learn more and RSVP.
My husband loves anal sex. I do not! When I was 12, my father repeatedly raped me, anal was his way of punishing me since my mother would never let him do it. I told no one for many, many years. My husband knew certain things, but not to the extent of how bad it was until recently. Every time my husband even touches me back there, I literally cringe. We’ve done anal before, but I literally cry and shake the entire time. I hate every part of it, but don’t want to. I have overcome all of the other things I was put through as a child and was hoping you may have some pointers on helping me with this. I know I may never enjoy this, but I’d at least like it to be tolerable and do this for my husband. He never forces me to do anything I don’t want to, but I’d like to do this for him. How can I make it through this? What is the best way to get past all of this and give my husband the one thing he asks for that I can’t do? Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Thank you for your vulnerability to ask this question. Feeling overwhelmed and repulsive around a sex act is common among survivors of sexual violence. In your case, assault was used as punishment and associating intense negative emotions with anal sex makes a lot of sense. Your body has been wired to react negatively due to the trauma you suffered. You can avoid the intense feelings by simply avoiding anal sex. Otherwise, you will have to re-wire your system to replace your understandably-negative feelings with neutral and positive ones.
Before going further, we want to make sure you have fully considered the first option: to avoid anal play and anal sex. Your feelings about anal sex, as they are, are valid and important. If you do not desire anal sex or are not genuinely curious about introducing anal play into your life, you should not have to put yourself through the process of changing how you feel about anal sex.
Your husband’s love for anal sex does not have to be fulfilled at your expense. You may feel guilt and shame around being honest with yourself and him about where you stand. These feelings are normal. The first step here is removing all pressure around the issue and reaching acceptance that having anal sex may not be an option for you.
After establishing that you do not ever owe anyone their sexual pleasure, you may consider the possibility of working to introduce anal play into your life. This is if you are finding yourself excited about the process, and are aiming to one day enjoy anal sex and not merely tolerate it for the sake of your husband.
Start by doing some anal explorations on your own. You can think of it as a self-care session where you take some time to relax and feel grounded. Then, using your imagination, take note of how you feel when thinking about anal touch. This imaginery “anal touch” can be from yourself, a lovely fictional entity, someone you deeply trust, or even a delightful ball of energy. See if you can visualize a scenario in which receiving attention to your anal area does not spark heavy feelings. Perhaps, you even find a type of touch that feels soothing or healing. Go slow and take breaks as needed. You can trust yourself to be as gentle and loving as you need to be.
From here, if you feel ready, you can advance the visualizations to physical touch administered by yourself. You can use your hands and vibrators to massage and caress the anal area. In each step, please take note of what comes up and how you feel. Take your time feeling the feelings, take breaks, and record these thoughts and feelings in a journal, if you find it helpful.
You can continue getting more involved in anal play as you go. Next step could be using anal toys for insertion by yourself and during solo masturbation. Once you are comfortable with that, you can try inserting a toy like a butt plug during a sexual session with your husband. This will allow you to experience anal pleasure that is given to you by yourself and not anyone else.
Taking charge of when and how you do anal play is important in helping you feel in control. So ask your husband to let you play with your anal area without his input or involvement. Perhaps, he can enjoy watching you from a distance. When you are ready to involve him, make sure you call the shots as to exactly how it happens.
Setting clear boundaries around what is and is not acceptable is key. He can tune into your verbal and non-verbal cues so that your well-being is prioritized during anal play. You do not, and should not, have to numb or dismiss your feelings to allow for anal sex. Instead, go slow and listen to your body. You may be able to one day go as far as frequently receiving anal penetration with joy, or you may want to stop at only playing with your anal area yourself and on occasion. All of these options are good.
You indicated that your husband does not “force” you to do anything and that is wonderful. This means there have to be no explicit or implicit pressures to get you to do anal play. You said you were “crying and shaking” during anal sex. These are important signals that should not be ignored by you or your husband. As you continue, please set a boundary to stop all anal play at the earliest indication of distress. To help take more pressure off, we encourage your husband to seek other ways of satisfying his love for anal sex such as masturbation to anal fantasies, anal porn, or even with the help of an anal doll.
Please consider that traumas we face in our childhood leave a lasting impression. We have to journey through them for our lifetime and “overcoming” our traumas does not necessarily mean they will not resurface from time to time. As you journey towards your own healing, you may be triggered and find yourself back in a scary place. These are some of the necessary steps in the process and with patience and acceptance, it gets easier every time. Staying connected with a community of survivors as well as mental health professionals, whether or not you decide to open yourself up to anal play, can be instrumental in improving the overall quality of your life.
Book – Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Stacie Haines
Book – Anal Pleasure and Health: A Guide for Men, Women and Couples by Jack Morin
Book – Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin – How to Recognize and Set Healthy Boundaries by Anne Katherine
Anal Training Kit from B-vibe
Free Virtual Event for Sexual Violence Survivors
Join us for a storytelling and Q&A event for sexual violence survivors. Learn more about the event and RSVP on Eventbrite.
Image description: Graphic reads Healing from Sexual Violence. Storytelling and Q&A. April 21. 5pm PT/8pm ET. Headshots of Aredvi and Ignacio. On the left, Aredvi has a brown mole on their right cheek and have full lips. They are wearing a very short beard. They have a grey jacket on and are standing against a blurred background with a large house plant. Underneath their picture is red text that reads, “Aredvi Azad.” On the right, there is an image of Ignacio Rivera. Ignacio is an caramel skin, AFAB, gender fluid, Black-Latinx- Indigenous being. They have very short dark brown hair. They are wearing a red and black dress with a diagonal line pattern. They have red colored glasses and dark brown eyes. Underneath their image, there is text that reads, “Ignacio G. Rivera.”
Featured photo of an array of anal toys by Gwen Mamanoleas on Unsplash