Sex After Assault: Advice for Others from Billie
The reason why I wanted to take part in this project is because I’ve learned that these stories can really help other people. You might be able to see yourself in someone else’s story and feel inspired by how that person has moved forward. Our community is constantly asking for more real life stories – so from my point of view, the more of them out there, the better.
And from a personal perspective, I’ve found that the more I talk about my assault, the more I can reclaim it. It’s a powerful process for me, it really helps my own healing.
MY ADVICE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN SEXUAL ASSAULTED
I think the biggest thing for me was acknowledging that this was absolutely, 100% not my fault. I think it’s really easy to fall into self-blame. My first piece of advice is that, if anything like this has ever happened or you’ve ever felt uncomfortable in a situation, that is NOT your fault, you have not created that. The other person/s have created that. Even if you were the one who instigated a drink or a dinner or whatever it is that led up to the assault, the onus is never on you and under no circumstance is that your fault. That is the first thing to acknowledge.
I think the second thing to acknowledge is the navigation of this kind of experience in the work place… We get quite afraid that speaking up will damage our careers but if you think that you have to sacrifice yourself like that for your career, then you are 100% in the wrong profession. You should never have to put yourself in that situation. Luckily, I think we live in a climate where today, if you call that behaviour out to the right people, they cannot ignore it. You should know that you have the power to hold that person accountable. You do not have to grin and bear it like women had to do in the past. These old boy behaviours are not tolerable.
The final piece of advice is to know that going on a sexual journey, to rediscover your sexuality – by reading books, going to lectures, finding communities etc – is not shameful. It’s actually incredibly important. And we should all be doing it, regardless of whether we are coming through trauma or not. But especially coming through trauma, that desire to want to reconnect with your sexuality is essential; it is not an embarrassing or indulgent activity at all. It’s absolutely necessary because sexuality is a living, breathing part of who we all are, it’s so much more than just a physical act of the body. Sexuality is all to do with the self – our self-worth, self-confidence, self-efficacy – so having trauma around your neck is so limiting. Wanting to do the work in order to free yourself from that is a beautiful thing.
Thank you to Billie Quinlan for sharing her story for G’s Spot. Billie is co-founder of Ferly which is an app that encourages female-identifying people to explore their relationship with sex and prioritise their sexual wellness.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, there are services that can help you. As a British blogger based in the UK, I have provided the NHS support page here which can direct you to the correct service for your needs: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/
Submissions for Season Two are still open – please get in touch if you would like to share your story.