I’m involved in a relationship where my partner is fond of being physically and verbally abused during sex. Recently, I’ve learned that she was sexually abused at a very young age.Is my desire to please her sexually and take part in her violent, abusive fantasies serving as an unhealthy degradation or an open channel for venting emotions?
What a sophisticated question. I think we need to ask your partner that very question. I would like her to talk with you more about why she wants to recreate the abuse she suffered as a young child. For example, does she believe that the recreation helps to work through the feelings associated with her abuse.Sigmund Freud was the first person to notice that humans recreate traumatic events in an attempt to work through the feelings associated with the trauma. Freud realized this when he was interviewing a young boy. The boy had been brought to Freud’s office by his mother. When the mother left him to talk with Freud, the boy became hysterical to be left. He ran to the window and watched his mother walking away. He waved goodbye to his mother. Throughout the session, the boy kept returning to the window and waving to his mother. Freud observed that the repetition was the boy’s way of reliving and trying to gain mastery over his feelings.So, what we need to find out if your lover’s repetition of the abuse she suffered is an attempt to gain mastery over the feelings associated with the trauma. If the repetition is successful, then as time goes on she will feel less and less need to replay the abuse she suffered.It is my sense that repetition of past abuse is not the most direct path to healing. In fact, I’m not sure that it is the way to heal at all. Behavioral enactments such as replaying her abuse, don’t create healing precisely because it is my observation that in order to work through feelings, one must put the feelings into words.So, I’d encourage her to talk about what happened to her and feel the feelings associated with the abuse. Ideally, she would do this work with a therapist who is trained in working with trauma and/or sexual abuse. When she works through her feelings, she won’t feel the urge to replay the abusive scenarios from her past.