What sex looks like after sexual trauma: by Nurse Angela

Many people may struggle to feel connected with their bodies after experiencing sexual trauma. The important part is to manage your triggers and establish boundaries with your partner. . Recovery may take some time, but healing is possible. Here are the stories of two brave ladies.

Trigger warning: this article contains details of rape, violence and sexual assault.

Beverly Nzama’s story

Beverly Nzama, a 44 year old female from Port Shepstone, was raped at age 15. The unfortunate incident occurred after she and her friends came back from the reed dance in 1992. According to Zulu tradition, only virgins are permitted to take part in the festival to ensure they’re ritually ‘pure’. The festival is a solemn occasion for the young women, but also an opportunity to show off their singing, dancing and beadwork. At 9pm on that fateful day, the young ladies where dropped off by the bus and waited near a river for their parents as the bus couldn’t cross the river. This was their normal routine after attending the reed dance at a nearby village.

While waiting, a group of 7 elderly men went passed them. The initial thought was that they were there to fetch some of the girls that had attended the dance. A few moments later, they heard other girls screaming and tried running. Unfortunately one man caught Beverly and started to sexually assault her. He assaulted her with empty bottles until she passed out, in an attempt to kill her.

Beverly woke up from a coma after 3 months, lost her uterus and was diagnosed with HIV. At that time, and to date, there was a myth that a person can be cured from HIV by having sex with a virgin. That’s the reason Beverly believes they were targeted.

Through counselling and several surgeries, Beverly was able to pick up the pieces and heal. However, she admitted to not being able to enjoy sex. Although she’s now married, she feels she solely has sex for the purposes of fulfilling her husband’s needs. She’s never had an orgasm and hates being kissed. If it were up to her, sex would not form part of her marriage. Beverly continues to find healing through talking about her ordeal and motivating others to speak out against rape. Healing from sexual trauma can take time- be patient with yourself and don’t feel pressured to do things you’re not ready for.

Palesa Brown’s story

Another rape survivor, Miss Palesa Brown, was gang raped by a group of men aided by her friends. Palesa shares her experience on intimacy after this trauma.

“After the ordeal, I was badly affected and couldn’t bring myself to be intimate with anyone for a very long time. I hated my body so much and I still can’t stand being naked. I also hated sex toys because one of my perpetrators used a sex toy to try stimulate me whilst the other assaulted me. I felt very depressed and knew I had to make a change.

I had to separate my partner from the monsters who violated me. After all, he wasn’t the one who sexually assaulted me. Gradually, it became easier to engage in sexual intercourse with him and now I can safely say I have a healthy sex life, though I still struggle a lot with being naked and being comfortable with my body.”

It takes real bravery to have gone through such a traumatic experience and overcome it. To those who’ve gone through the same, I hope you find courage in the stories of these two warriors. Rape doesn’t have to mean the end. With therapy, support and strength, you can move forward and you may find yourself enjoying a fulfilling sex life again.

If you or a friend need someone to talk to, you can speak to me for advice or help here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

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