Ways To Make Masturbation & Sex Toys Less Scary After Sexual Trauma

(Content warning goes here! Though it’s not in detail, this post does discuss sexual trauma.)

In my last two Putting Trauma to Bed posts I talked at length about how figuring out your own wants/needs/triggers (both mentally and physically) was important – how masturbation can be a way to try and get “comfortable” after sexual trauma in a safe environment, and how I semi-impulsively treated myself to well, a bunch of new sex toys that didn’t have any bad thoughts or memories attached to them. I swear I’ll eventually talk about dating and partnered sex in this series – but today, yup, I’m back at it talking about solo stuff. (Also, sorry I say “masturbation” so many times in this post – I know, it sounds a bit clinical. But saying “how I made fucking myself seem less terrifying” sounds a bit too aggressive for something relating to trauma.)

Again – if you’re not ready, or not interested in getting handsy with yourself that’s super hella extra alright. It’s not everyone’s idea of a great time even separated from traumatic experiences, but it’s one of my favorite things on the planet and counting down the days until I felt comfortable enough to actually roll around in bed with myself was definitely a thing. But, there were months (on end, damn near a year before!) where the thought of it made my stomach turn. There’s still times where I immediately stop and shut down. But how do I minimize that? After I chucked out toys with terrible things attached to them – how did I replace shit? Is there any point where this gets less scary?

….Yes and no. As usual, your mileage may vary – I’m not a therapist, just another survivor of sexual trauma trying to walk backwards through this nonsense. Most of the writing I could find on any of this was by companies making and advertising “holistic” sex toys for some sort of…healing, but y’all know I’m not down for the woo in that regard and I’m just trying to have a good time – so I’ll skip the jade eggs and stone dildos that are supposed to magically fix your trauma and instead talk about ways that we can make getting ourselves off a little “safer” in our brains.

Let me again press the fact that getting to know yourself (physically, even!) again (and again!) is super important. (That’s a constant learning process, honestly. Things change! Between dodging triggers and feelings I hate, and figuring out what’s actually enjoyable I have no idea how I have the energy to fuck myself at the end of the day.) And past that – if you’re genuinely terrified, you probably shouldn’t push yourself. Know yourself, know your body. That’s the focus in all of this. But – in general, these are the things I keep in mind that keep things “safe” for me (personally) when I do actively want to get off – when the thought is a little daunting, but not scary enough that I run the risk of further harming myself.

  • Keeping a safe distance

I didn’t start with insertable toys when I decided I was “ready” to even try to masturbate again. That’s still a fairly new development, honestly. Hell, I couldn’t even just use my hand externally – skin to skin yicked me out and made ALL of my skin crawl. So, how was I supposed to get off on the rare occasion I was comfortable enough to? My “favorite” battery powered vibe meant I typically had to rest my wrist or my forearm on my stomach to use it, and that made me feel gross too. I didn’t want to be touched, by myself or anyone else.

So, I started leaning into the parts of my toy collection that would leave a decent amount of space between my hands & my bits. Wand vibrators are the best for this in my opinion (full sized, the “minis” had the same issue as other small vibes for me.) because you can honestly be damn close to a foot away from skin-to-skin. You can also rest them on things, move yourself around, and reposition them without having to fiddle with placement too much – again, preventing skin to skin. As much as I love my Womanizers, the fact that I had to actively place them and be super conscious of what I was doing to myself (not that you should be unaware, but you know what I mean) was way too much for me for a really long time and is something I’ve only become comfortable with again in the past few months.

  • Slightly less scary: unrealistic and “non-phallic” toys

Just throwing it out there – I don’t like genitals. Period. Well, maybe I do but I don’t want to see them. I don’t like seeing my own, I don’t like seeing them in porn (hi hello, I watch porn once in a never for…mostly this reason!) and I don’t want to have to think that whatever I’m mindlessly jabbing at myself with could be attached to a person, because goddamnit in my experience people are scary. Toys shouldn’t be scary. Or at least, that’s my thought process. I used to not have this preference – or if I did it was a little less aggressive. I thought “oh, maybe this is an asexual thing!” (which it very well could be for other people) until I realized the majority of my aversion to genitals in general was trauma-based.

For example, I have a horrific purple dildo that I picked up on a whim years ago. It was never my favorite because of other things like the material and size, but it did see at least some use. As of late it hides in the bottom of my toybox where I don’t have to be subjected to seeing it if I don’t go out of my way to. Times where I’ve tried to “give it a chance” and tried to use it to switch things up – I’ve caught myself at worst disassociating, or at best deciding 15 seconds in that I was done masturbating and was just generally disgusted. And a good time was had by none! How do I get around that?

Enter, sex toys that don’t look like human parts. For things you can stick stuff into, I’m talking like the Tenga cups that clearly aren’t based on genitals as opposed to something like the Fleshlight. For things you can stick into places, I’m talking about dildos that don’t have a defined glans or bonus testicles or any of that super realistic texture and detailing that other people might be really into. There is no faster way for me to lose interest then for a sex toy to be hyper realistic. I can’t even do skin tones, that shit is just too scary to me. If something is semi realistic at THIS point I can try to make peace with it if it’s an off the wall color, but that’s hit or miss. I love digging through SheVibes “non-phallic” section because rarely am I caught off guard with anything that looks “too” human.

(I do have a semi-realistic toy on my review list right now, and I’m a bit scared. We’ll see how it goes.)

  • For the love of god, don’t forget the lube

This seems like something that shouldn’t have to be said, but damnit I am because even I need the reminder. I’ve always been a huge fan of good lube, but post trauma? Holy shit might as well have an automatic dispenser in the style of a public bathroom soap machine with the amount my body deems necessary now.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should slather something in lube and force yourself to enjoy it (well, you won’t enjoy it, but you know what I mean) when your body is having a negative response to whatever you’re doing and isn’t into it, and thusly isn’t self lubricating whatsoever. (Remember what I said about re-learning how to read your body’s signals? Still super important.)

What I do mean is even if I’m absolutely feeling it, even 2% of drag or discomfort from a toy (thanks, silicone, you thirsty bastard!) can be the thing standing between me getting off without a hitch or me ending up triggering myself and calling the whole thing off. Any resistance or discomfort usually ends in me slamming my legs shut no matter how much I can remind myself that it’s literally only my hand and an inanimate object and nothing terribly dangerous is going to unfold. My favorite is Sliquid H20, but their whole line is great and doesn’t fuck with my body. (As frustrating as the caps can be for me sometimes)

  • Reminder: There’s no “right” way to do this

TMI as fuck but for context: I went from wanting to get myself off multiple times a week (or night) previously, to going a solid 10 months before I even dared to think about masturbating. It was super confusing. It’s still super confusing! I still have times where I get freaked out and stop, weeks where I shelve everything and avoid any mention of sex like the plague, and times where I’m killing batteries left and right because I’m too into it. Sex is personal, trauma is personal, and like anything personal – that shit is varied, and it’s not one size fits all, or even “most”.

You might not be interested in anything sexual, period. You might not be comfortable with things you enjoyed in the past. You might not know your body anymore. Some days you might be super down for it, some days 10 seconds in you might feel too uncomfortable to continue. That’s okay! Whatever it is, it’ll get figured. You don’t have to pressure yourself to do so just because I wrote a couple posts about it, and please don’t let anyone else try to pressure you into enjoying yourself either. It comes and it goes, sometimes things are great – sometimes we just have to pump the brakes and call it a night. I know I say this in every post – but do what feels right for you. If you don’t know what feels right, sit with it. Not knowing is totally fine & I sure as fuck don’t know most of the time.

Getting busy with yourself after trauma is terrifying – even when you’ve been focusing on getting to know yourself again & feel you’re well versed in your own body. Masturbating for me was a way to have a positive sexual experience without the worries of blindly jumping back into partnered sex and ending up triggered, or having any sort of expectations placed on myself. Reclaiming my own body for my own pleasure was a huge step for me – and oversharing be damned, that’s why I’m writing yet another post about it.

In a way I feel like “the perfect survivor” narrative can make it seem that ALL survivors are expected to have zero interest in sex. (Even once we’re “all better” – which isn’t a thing, by the way.) Like we’re expected to be chaste as fuck no matter what, (Some people are, and that’s fine! But lumping every one of us into one group? Fuck no.) but I think reclaiming your own sexuality can be a great step & healing tool if you’re ready for it. Just like masturbation in any other context – for me it’s proved useful as a way to learn how to read my body, figure out what I love & hate, and get comfortable with myself – which is important to me, especially if I want to eventually be comfortable being touched by anyone else.

If you made it all the way through this ramble – I hope there’s at least a sentence or two that helps you. Feel free to leave a comment (if you’re comfortable!) and let me know what works for you. Is there anything else you’d like to see this series cover? I’d love to know!

Stay safe, keep going, & I love y’all.

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7 Responses

  1. Brittany says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this and the 2 previous pieces that go with it. I’ve been dealing with a lot that I had repressed that got unintentionally resurfaced recently and these have been sooooo helpful. 💜💚🖤

    • Kitty Kitty says:

      Awe, you’re welcome! I hate when stuff just rears its ugly PTSD head out of nowhere (goes with the territory but…still one of the worst feelings!) so I’m thrilled to even soothe that by 5%. I hope it gets easier! I know our brains can hide a lot from us on purpose but ugh it’s frustrating damnit aha.

  2. Rachel says:

    It’s so true. Sex is personal, trauma is personal and no one size fits all . I have had sexual trauma in my past, and other trauma as well. It definitely changes how you see yourself. You seem to get it right on target. Thanks for your candor and insight! And ptsd can suck ass as well!

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