Anon: "I wish I was eloquent enough to put it accurately into words what its like to be in bed with a guy and and to be in the present moment and then suddenly boom, I've cut out. (story shared via website's contact form)
"I'm floating around the room, the man in front of me isn't my friend or partner but a beast. It's accompanied by this horrible sinking feeling, a darkness washes over me and I sink into this black hole and feel as if I'm falling. I can't continue when that happens, I say no I pull away, the guy looks at me as if I'm a dick tease leading him on. Or as if I'm damaged because they caught the fear in my eyes and pity me. Its a wonder I've ever had sex at all! Afterwards the feeling of despair doesn't go away and can stay with me for weeks after."
Jane: "I've worked out that my biggest turn on in the whole entire universe is when a guy turns to me and says 'Hey, it's alright we could just cuddle, I'm good with that.' (story shared via website's contact form)
"I would actually like to be in a long term relationship and to have sex, but not to feel pressured into it. I've worked out that my biggest turn on in the whole entire universe is when a guy turns to me and says "hey its alright we could just cuddle, I'm good with that". Forget the romantic gestures, the sexy underwear, whatever, every one should just say that. I jump the guys bones everytime, that one phrase can pull me back from the brink of despair and flashbacks and the horrible darkness. Its a phrase that reminds me of his kindness and that he's a person just like me."
Anon: "All of my relationships have involved pressure to do what the guy wants." (story shared via website's contact form)
"I have had many problems with my body. I would like to have my body back, but there is no opportunity to do so. All of my relationships have involved pressure to do what the guy wants. My boyfriend touches me very roughly down there and it hurts. I believe that is the influence of porn. He says other girls like it. We are both 21 and in college and my friends have worse problems with their boyfriends.
"I was raped at the age of 15 and it brings back a lot of flashbacks when he does this. My boyfriend tries to be understanding but in the bedroom he becomes selfish. This is a space I am now frightened of entering because he will trigger me. I love him and when he is not being sexual he is caring. I masturbate on my own when he is not there. The one time I did start crying he stopped and I showed him how to do it softer. This started two weeks and he started acting like the movies again.
"Last week he wanted to watch it together. It triggered me very badly because the girl was giving the guy oral. I feel like I have to pretend to enjoy it or things won't be good between us."
Deanne: "I was extremely tense every time my boyfriend went near me. But watching comedy did it for me. It allowed me to stop connecting sex with violence, and step into another world.
"We would watch it on the bed, and when I saw him laughing at some of the stupid jokes I could see that he was human too. It gave him an identity. I was having sex with another person, it wasn't being done to me by some monster who behaved like a machine. Me and my boyfriend have cried together, but when we laughed together we were not connecting sexually, but through humour. I could trust that he accepted me and all my emotions, which we needed as our sexual relationship progressed. It happened naturally one night after eighteen months. I was so relaxed, it happened very easily. That's something I could not have imagined when we first met. Then I was petrified sitting next to him in case his leg brushed up against me and I went crazy."
Louise: "I always associate being wet, with being frozen with fear.
"When I was raped my body reacted. I didn't want it to react but it did. If you touch in a certain way, that's what happens. So when I get turned on at first I feel good, and then when I start to get wet it all changes. I become light-headed like I did when I was raped. I feel sick, abused, disorientated. On one occasion I had a very bad flashback, and I could see his face again staring down at me. It always starts when I begin to get wet, and then I stop because I can't carry on with it anymore."
Mehnsa: "When I got close to a man I felt very hot, flushed, embarrassed, frightened, like a little girl again.
"It was like I felt when the abuse first happened. During the abuse I felt embarrassed and ashamed I had let someone take advantage of me like that. But I couldn't say anything was wrong because I was scared he'd kill me if I did. Now I don't say anything's wrong because there's so much pressure to get over it. To cover all those feelings, I turn into this animalistic type of person. With a lot of guys I'm the one ripping their clothes off.
"One guy called me a nympho. That's what people think I am. It was about feeling in control again. Being so sexually aggressive was about covering up the feelings of humiliation I'd felt when he first did that to me."
Sarah M: "With orgasm I go elsewhere into my head and let my body do what it was designed to do.
"If I go into my head and cut off, my body will respond to the guy I'm with. With one boyfriend I really trusted him, but I couldn't stand being consciously there while we were having sex, so I wasn't. I disappeared into my head, and then suddenly he said 'Wow, that's not happened before.' He saw me come, I know it was a full body orgasm. I felt it. But I couldn't be in my head during it.
"He witness more of it than I did because he was present. Afterwards I said 'Yeah, thanks, um, that's what it's supposed to do I suppose. It felt like a real achievement for him and for me, but then afterwards I was like 'Yeah, let's not talk about this. I couldn't handle it. People don't realise how good we can be at cutting off from our bodies, but I've had years of experience with that, so yes, I can cut off from a full body orgasm. Just like I cut off from full body pain for years when I was being rape, but that was how I coped.
"Sex has always been like following cooking instructions. You put your hand here, and you keep it there for this long, and then you put it there."
Amelia: "What I really hate hearing are the words 'Why don't you' or 'won't you.' But the worst is hearing 'No one else has ever acted like this.'
"I have heard that so many times from different men and women, I now expect them to say that as soon as it gets to the bedroom. That feels like you have got 'weird' written across your forehead. I want it to go away, and I'll try really hard to make it go away, but I feel like I can never hit that goal post of just being normal about sex, like all the other women they keep comparing me to."
Patricia: "My partners have had a way of speaking to me like they're diagnosing me, as if my feelings are a disease that have to be cured.
"When I have told them how I feel with sex, they've urged me to seek help, to work through my so-called issues, rather than accept what I don't want. Two out of my six relationships haven't respected my boundaries at all.
"They would behave as if they were helping me move forward through my so-called problems with sex, but they were actually doing it for them, and I didn't want to do any of that stuff at all. There were certain things that scared me, positions, sexual contact within the process, and I would have to do it. But if I said I didn't want to do it, they would behave as if they were just trying to push me through a fear barrier. They were doing it for them.
"But I believed what they said. I bought into the whole 'damaged' myth, as if there was something wrong with me for having feelings about some of the sex we were having. I was fighting those feelings all the time because I felt so powerless."