Once again I'm Reverend Pleasure, pronouns are she and her. And we are talking about sex and healing, and pleasure after trauma. I just wanna invite you to please, you know, do what you need to do to take care of yourself as we talk about this topic. I know that it's not necessarily an easy topic. And though it's necessary for us to definitely have more and more conversations, and shine the light, and bring it all out into the open, I still do understand that it can be difficult. So please do take care of yourself. Drink water. You know, take a lap. Take a walk. Take some deep breaths. If you have an animal at home, you know, snuggle with your puppy or your cat, or your rabbit, whatever it is. Whatever you need to do for you during this stream, totally understand right. And so please feel free to do that. Mia will also be sharing some O.school community guidelines. And so I ask that you please read those and be mindful of them. And just make sure to come here, you know, with an open mind, an open heart. Use I statements when you're talking and sharing stories. So only share your own story, or other stories with permission. And definitely just respect across the board. Mia just shared the link to the slides. So we're gonna dive right in. And if you're following along with the slides, I'm actually just going to start with slide four. And we're just gonna go ahead and start with, this is a, kind of the three stages that I see of healing post trauma. Right, so as you notice in the slides it talks about reclaiming your body, healing, pleasure, and sex after trauma. And so this is a very body centered approach. This is not the only approach right. But it's one that has worked for me. And some strategies and things that have worked for other survivors and folks that I know. So without further adieu, we're on slide five. Step one. The incomparable Maxine Waters. So just a little nod to that. So instead of reclaiming my time, we're talking about reclaiming my body. And we talk about reclaiming our bodies because our bodies are violated right. Our bodies are our first homes. It's the fist place where we learn to navigate and how we experience so many things around the world. And how we take in information, in all sorts of ways, whether it be through sight or sound, or touch or smell, whatever it is, our bodies are really, really important right. They're what hold us all together. And they're what allows our essence to be able to move through the world. And so I think the first phase of healing after sexual trauma is to start the journey of reclaiming your body. Because when your body is co-opted in the sight of trauma it can be really hard to feel safe, or at home, you know, or anything. And so for many survivors that very first step is to just reclaim our bodies as our own to be able to reside within the home that we carry with them everywhere. Afrosexology who are amazing, amazing sex educators, and also pleasure professionals on O.school, they say, "How can you have economic agency, "political agency, social agency, "if you don't have agency over yourself." And it's so true. If you don't feel in control of your own body, or if you don't feel like you can do things with your own body, then it can be so difficult to assert yourself, and assert your autonomy, and your independence in other areas of your life. And just so many things start from our bodies. Which is why for me this is a really embodied approach. So I would love to hear from you all. How do you feel about your bodies? How do you feel about the way that your body navigates the world? Do you agree with this quote from Afrosexology? What do you think? Oh, hi Miss Chief O. Thanks for joining us. Everyone, in case you didn't know, it's Miss Chief O's birthday today. So please, please, please wish our fearless leader a happy birthday. I am glad that you like the slides Mia. I put a lot of thought into them, so thank you. Alright so, while you answer questions and things come in, I know that there's a little bit of a lag. So gonna give you some time to answer those questions. Oh, okay, so Mia is asking for me to repeat the quote. And I definitely can. So the quote is on slide six if you're following along in the slides. And it says, "How could you have economic agency, "political agency, social agency "if you don't have agency over yourself." I also dropped it in the chat there for those who may not be following along with the slides and needed to see it written down. This first step, this first stage rather of this healing journey right, of reclaiming our bodies can take a lot of shapes, a lot of forms, a lot of approaches. And in slide seven I list 10 ways that we can begin this journey of reclaiming our bodies. And truly feeling into our healing process. So if you joined me last Wednesday, I discussed abstinence and celibacy as one of these healing strategies. And so you'll see it's number one on the list. And so I did go into more detail last week, and in my last stream about what shape that could take. What that could mean. And I'm happy to share those slides as well. If you'd like to see a little bit in more detail what we discussed during that stream. But essentially when we are talking about abstinence and celibacy, I'm not talking about it form a place of shame, right, or a place that's being imposed on you. I'm talking about an intentional practice that allows you to take your time to rediscover who you are, what it is that you like, how you feel. To really get grounded in your body again. This was a practice, this is a practice that I have done a few times on my healing journey, and within my sexual life. And it has been very eye opening and life changing for me to spend some time alone. And so when you set this intention, to be celibate or to be abstinent. There's definitely parameters right, that you wanna put around it. You set a timeframe. You can also share in that time looking at what it is you wanna gain out of it. So setting goals for yourself. You can decide what it is you're refraining from. Is it are you just being celibate when it comes to a partnered interaction, right with other people. Or are you also refraining from solo sex. It's completely up to you. Whatever you feel like is most beneficial. So like I said, that was, we did, we went deeper into that practice, and into that strategy for body reclamation in last weeks stream, and I am happy to share the slides from that if you'd like to explore that on your own as well. I will have O Mia, our awesome mod share those slides. Alright, so, moving on to the next way to reclaim your body, hypersexual behavior. So what do I mean by that? If any of you watches the show Insecure, which I do, and I love. And I'm excited for it to come back. But in the show Insecure, the main character, after breaking up with her boyfriend she calls, she goes through what she calls her hotation. So you might hear ho phase, different things. And so this is not at all looking at this in a derogatory way, but rather, you know, leaning into that it's okay for you to have multiple sexual partners, you know as long as it's being done in a safe way. And it's not causing harm. But in a way that makes you feel liberated. This is also a strategy that I have employed in my own healing journey. And so you might want to reclaim your body by taking ownership and control over your sexual experiences, and by dictating the frequency of them in that was as well. So similar to being abstinent or being celibate, this is another way of reclaiming your sexual activity and re-exerting that control in that domain and in that space. I'm curious is anyone here ever had a hotation or a ho phase, or deliberately engaged in hypersexual behavior? Let me know in the chat. And while you think about it we will go on to strategy number three. So the third strategy that someone could use to reclaim their body is masturbation. And sometimes, for some people they may have never masturbated prior to encountering sexual trauma, for some people that may have been the only way that they experienced pleasure previously. But masturbation can truly be a way for you to explore yourself, literally. And to figure out on your own what it is that brings you pleasure. Masturbation is also a safe way for you to explore pleasure right, without having to involve another person. It also helps with the control factor of helping you to gain control over how it is pleasure shows up in your life sexually. Really you're in charge of what is being done to your body. How it's being done. How it feels. And this can really help, and go a long way so that when you are ready to have partnered sex again, you are in a position to better able to articulate what it is that you desire, what you like, what you don't like. Right because you've taken the time to explore on you own. Alright so strategy four, yoga. So yoga is, when I say yoga, it could also be other forms of movement. You'll notice that strategy number eight is dance. And so honestly, any type of embodied movement. Yoga, dance, working out even, right, so like weight lifting, anything that's going to make you like really be in your body and feel what's going on, and what's happening. A lot of times in sexual trauma, you know, we can disassociate. That was something that happened to me. For those of you who may not know what that means, disassociating is when you know, your body might be physically present in a situation, but your mind is somewhere else. And it's a coping mechanism. It's a way of protecting ourselves so that we don't have to be fully present to the trauma that we're experiencing in that moment. And disassociation was definitely a coping strategy that I employed. And so doing things like yoga, or dance, or other embodied practices helps me to be in my body, and stay in my body in that, in the moment, and to disassociate less often. Especially because sometimes you can begin disassociating even in situations that, where there isn't a threat right. And so, doing some things like yoga could help to really bring you into a safer way of being present in your body. Strategy five is meditation, or prayer right. However you would like to frame it. But again, it's about taking out some time to be still and to really be with yourself. And if you'll notice that you know, for the majority of these on the list they're not sexual. The first three were. But for most of these it's not so much about sexual activity as it is about being able to trust your body again. Being able to reconnect with your body, not see it as the enemy. Being able to take time for forgive your body. Meditation and prayer can really help in that regard. As can number nine, EMDR and somatics. Which EMDR stands for eye movement, desensitization, and reprocessing. It's a type of therapy that integrates psychotherapy with somatic practices and really getting you into your body. And so these types of practices can really go a long way in helping to practice forgiveness when it comes to your body. Sometimes we can feel like our body's betrayed us, when they were just being bodies, right. So in some instances, you know, if you do feel pleasure during an assault, or if your body does have a biological response, right whether that be orgasm, or lubrication. That can be really confusing sometimes. And processing that guilt, and that trauma through things like EMDR, and therapy, and somatics can be really helpful in helping us to forgive ourselves. And to also realize that our bodies were just doing what bodies do. And if your body did have that type of response during an assault, it doesn't make it any less of an assault. It was actually your body's way of trying to protect you. Right, trying to minimize the amount of trauma that it experienced. So definitely, highly recommend those strategies. Alright so what do we have left? Bubble baths. I love bubble baths. It's an opportunity to love on yourself right. Light some candles. Set the mood. Do some mood lighting. Like romance yourself a little bit. And really give yourself an opportunity to treat your body the way it deserves to be treated. Especially after a trauma when your body has not been handled with care. When it has been violated. Really want to reprogram your body so that it knows, like it's safe, and that it deserves to be treated with kindness and love, and romance, and tenderness, and to be caressed. So I love bubble baths for that reason. Naturism, so being naked. Sometimes being naked can be really difficult to do after an assault. And really just, challenging yourself to get naked, and to explore your body, and to really just be without any expectations. I find that also being naked outside of sexual situations can be really helpful too, just to get comfortable with nakedness again. And to know that just because you're naked doesn't mean that something sexual is coming or has to happen. And then finally practicing boundary setting. Sometimes, part of the guilt that we feel, or part of the healing process that needs to happen is around you know, our ability to set our own boundaries, and with having our boundaries respected or not respected. And so sometimes being able to practice boundary setting outside of sexual situations can feel really empowering right. There was a period of time for me where I would just say no to random shit. Like you know, if somebody asked me if I wanted to get them some water. I would just say no, right, just because I wanted to be able to remind myself that I could. That it was there. That I could set a boundary and that it would be respected. And so really set up that expectation for myself. Right, and to not have this mindset that if I set boundaries they won't be respected. And so practicing boundary setting outside of sexual situations can really build up our confidence in that way, and carry over into sexual situations as well. So those are some of the ways, some of the strategies that I put forward, but I would love to hear from you about some strategies maybe that you've used, or that you've heard others discuss. Anything that you have heard of that didn't make it on my list, I would love to hear about it. I'm always curious how other folks process, and what works for other people, and of course, you know recognizing that, things on this list may not work for everyone. So always looking to add other things to my repertoire. Thank you O Mia for sharing those slides. Michelle Lee welcome, happy to have you here. I hope you find the slides helpful. And yes, as Mia has said, she is your moderator, and she's being really awesome. And so if you are enjoying this stream. If you're feeling helped, or you know, you learn something please feel free to show your appreciation by tapping that little gift jar there at the bottom. And yeah, we'd appreciate it. Yay, you're welcome O Mia. I'm glad that you find the strategies helpful. And I'm glad you're here too. Alright. So we're gonna skip down to slide 10, if you're still following along with the slides. Because for those of you who may not have been here at the beginning, I have a special guest that's coming on soon, and so I definitely want us to make sure we have time for that. So phase two, right. I think once we've, we're on this path of reclaiming our bodies. The next thing to do is redefine what pleasure means for us. And I think part of why that is so important is because often with trauma, but even outside of trauma, we may not necessarily know what's pleasurable. We may not really have a clear understanding of when something is supposed to be pleasurable, and when it's not. We may also, with trauma survivors get into this guilt cycle around, you know, post assault, if there are things that we find pleasurable that also happened to be things that were done to us when we were assaulted, it can cause a lot of confusion, and turmoil, right. I know for me, I've totally been there. And so I think that one of the phases in our healing process needs to be redefining pleasure. And what it means for us, and what shape it takes. And so some of you may have seen, O.school has this hashtag relearn campaign and in that pleasure is defined as a sensation in the body, mind, and or soul that makes you go, mm, ah, or yum. And so I would love to know from you all what is pleasure to you? Right, what is pleasure to you? Given that definition what does pleasure look like for you? How do you define it? So for me, I actually, one of the things I find pleasure in, is drinking water, I love water y'all. Like it actually brings me a lot of joy to drink some nice cold water. This is Bria. And petting Bria brings me pleasure as well. Right. Snuggles from Bria brings me pleasure. And she's super cute, and super sweet, right. So that's one of the things. I love dark chocolate. Dark chocolate definitely makes me go mm. It's delicious. I love it so much, I know it's not everyone's jam. But it's totally mine. Like, so good. So what else brings me pleasure? A good lip. I love lipstick. So this purple lip is bringing me pleasure right now. Massages bring me pleasure. Good food. I think, I've possibly climaxed like from a really good meal. I think it's happened. So there are lots of things that bring me pleasure. What about you all? Okay, so we have a question. So Meckie says, I'm just wondering if strategies two and three can be achieved alone, or with therapy? Because I believe that with most survivors it might take 'em a very long time til they start to get back into any kind of sexual activity. This is an excellent question Meckie. And so what I would say is that, strategies two and three can definitely be achieved alone, and with therapy right. With the hypersexual behavior, some people can decide to do that completely on their own. Some people, for some survivors, they go, some survivors don't want to have sex. Right, they're sex averse. But some survivors they actually become hypersexual because for them, that's how they're regaining their power and regaining their control. So not all survivors take a long time to get back into sexual activity. For some survivors having consensual sex is how they regain their power. So again not everyone, but for some people. And then in terms of masturbation, also similarly you might find that you want to have sexual pleasure but you don't want to engage with a partner. And so masturbation is the way for you to begin to get back into sexual activity of some kind. Right, or feeling sexual again. Definitely I think therapy can help. That's why I highly recommend EMDR and somatics, because they're body based practices. And they can really, really go a long way in helping people to unearth and process their trauma. Because our trauma lives in our bodies, especially sexual trauma. Thank you so much for joining us Michelle. Great having you. Alright. And so along those lines, with Meckie's question the final phase right, we're third phase, after you've reintegrated, after you've redefined your pleasure, is to reintegrate your sex life. And so, I would like to bring in my special guest now. As we talk about what shape that can take. What can it mean to begin reintegrating sex, to really figuring out what sex means for you what shape it can take. And how it can be done. So this is my special guest. This is my honey. And she's agreed to talk with me about strategies for partners of survivors. But also for us to talk a little bit and share with you all what it has looked like in our relationship as well. - Hello. - Hi love. - Hey O schoolers. - She's so cute. Okay so, what would you like to share with the O schoolers? - I mean I think we have to go like all the way back to the beginning right, so it was like, it wasn't even our first date. Can you have a negative date, or a negative first date? - Sure. - Okay, and you know, we won't go into that story, it's very long. But basically we got to a point where, you just said it, as if we were talking about anything else. Like what's your favorite color? Oh purple, also I'm a sexual assault survivor. And I was like whoa, okay. - It may have been a slight over share for like the first date. But also, - It wasn't. I also felt it was necessary, right. Because I liked her. Right like obviously I liked her. And so for me, at that stage, when we met, I knew, I didn't have any shame around being a survivor, and I knew though, that if we were going to be exploring anything sexually that she would need to know. And you know, she would need to know how it shows up. - Yeah, I mean and in hindsight I really appreciated it. It's just you know, up until that point I hadn't really met someone who was that outspoken and very verbal. And I remember even like, being taken aback by the fact that you said that you were a survivor. You know because so many times you know you hear people talk about, well this thing was done to me. Or they describe it in more of a negative connotation. So I thought that was pretty cool. Like at first I was like, oh, what is she talking about, buzz kill. And then I was like, oh, okay. And also I knew that meant that you liked me. - There you go. Okay so what would you say has been the hardest thing for you in being a partner, being, yeah, being partnered with someone who is so open about being a survivor. But also like, navigating that in our relationship? - Yeah, I mean I think the communication that it requires. Like you know, you all talk about stigma, and shame, a lot on the platform but, for so many people sex also carries this cloud of silence, I guess you could say. Where like, you don't talk about sex in the first place. Thank goodness for platforms like this. But then when people do talk about sex, hello Bria, you know, it's kind of in this frame of like, what are you gonna do, what are you not gonna do. To have to talk about something that wasn't very pleasant for you, then also became something that entered my consciousness as a not very positive thing. And so trying to imagine what that was like, and trying to have a certain level of like sensitivity around it, just made for really awkward moments early on. - Yeah I would agree. There were definitely some awkward moments. You know as you mentioned, you were kind of taken aback by my revelation. And so I think that that was one thing, like just like a hurdle to overcome. And yeah, like talking about sex in general is hard because we just don't talk about it enough. And so we had to learn how to not only talk about sex, but to talk about the ways in which our sex might be different because of the fact that I'm a survivor, and what that would mean. And so do you wanna talk a little bit about that process? Our consent conversation? - Sure. One of the best things about being with a sex educator is all the fun tools that they encourage you to use. All joking aside, I, I was very much so, like what's a consent conversation? To the point that like most of our friends who have been along our journey together have heard this story at one point in time. And actually have come to us to say, well what does a consent conversation look like? And it is awesome as it sounds. - Yes. - What can I touch, what can't I touch? - Yeah, what do you like, what don't you like? What else? - One of my favorites was your no no places. - Yeah, so we had this whole conversation within our consent conversation about no no places. Right like, do you have body parts that you really don't want touched. We both do. Right so we had to talk about that. What that would mean. And in some instances right, one of us might have a no no place that's like the other person's favorite place. Right like, if in previous relationships or previous sexual experiences, or encounters, you discovered, oh man, I really, really like, you know, I don't know, - Anal sex. - Anal sex, right. I love anal sex. And then you get into this relationship with this person, and then they're like, actually that's a no no. Like that's a hard no for me. And so having a real, a realistic conversation around like, oh wow, well that's something that's a part of my sex life, that I've always had, or needed, or wanted. And so am I gonna be okay not having that anymore. Because that's a no no for my partner, right. - Yep you know. I think you know another area that was very interesting for us, that we are still somewhat navigating is around masturbation. So you know Reverend Pleasure shared earlier about masturbation as a tool to reclaim ones body. - I'm all about it. All about it. - And for me I was just, you know, I was like okay you're a survivor, no no zones, consent conversations. But wait what? You're gonna masturbate because it's gonna do what now? And so you know, that's the one, that was really challenging for me. It was like okay, how is that gonna help you to be with me? And then it was like wait, it's not about me. You know there has to be a certain level of selflessness that happens when you're with a survivor for sure. I think that's an area for which, you know, there's some unlearning that people may have to do. - Yeah. - That it's not about you. Whatever may come up. What may never come up. It's not necessarily about you. - Yeah I would agree with that, for sure. And then on the flip side of that too though, I would say for, a learning curve for me, has been that being somewhat permeable with some of my boundaries, or at least being open for conversations. Right because this is my love right. And I love her the most. Ans so once we established trust, and once I felt comfortable, and believe like, this person loves me, she cares about me. She's not going to harm me. And so can I be open to re-evaluating some of the things that were previously hard no's at the beginning of the relationship. Right. And some of those things were hard no's out of a defense response. Out of wanting to protect myself. But I don't need to protect myself with her. So how do we, how does the conversation then, the consent conversation then evolve, right once you've gotten past that point, of oh, I trust you. I believe you're not going to harm me. Okay maybe we can explore this thing that I know that you like, but it was previously a no no for me because of my trauma. And so let's now try to navigate, you know, working on a compromise. Or working our way up to it. - Yeah. And I mean it, and that you know, that's again where the communication comes in, because you know, you have to kind of also train yourself as a partner right. Like here's a no no zone, and being conscious of it. Like I've heard people say things like, oh well you know, I get caught up in the moment. Don't do that. That's not okay. And so you know, when I have adapted to, or kind of in some ways learned, okay this is a no no zone, to go through that negotiation of maybe this isn't a no no zone. How do I know today that's an okay zone. What does that look like you know. So you know, again it makes for what people might feel like are awkward moments, but it makes it fun too. Some days look different than others. - I would agree, it does make it fun. I don't know, I it also just makes our relationship better overall like because, well one, you have to have fun with it right. You can't be too serious when you're having these conversations. Because they're awkward and they're hard enough as it is. So if you haven't noticed by now we laugh a lot. We have to. And it's because, I mean because we love each other. And because she's adorable and so, I laugh, she has me laughing all the time. But also to bring some levity into what's happening. Right 'cause again you love this person. Or at least you like that person. Right if it's not someone you're in like a long term relationship with. But you like this person enough that you want to have sexual relations with them. And so at least having the conversation in a way that doesn't feel like so rigid. So yeah. - And I think it's a practice you know, because one thing that has happened for me, has been like it's made me interrogate my own sexuality experiences, traumas, all of that. Like, I was like, wait, do I have no no zones. And then I was like wait, yeah I totally have no no zones. Or do I actually like that thing that I've kind of become accustomed to doing sexually? Actually no can we try something else, right. So you know it, that's kind of the upside to it. Again it's not about us, but if it is about you, you know, you do get to have space to actually think these things through. Like you know, I was a person who has suffered my own traumas. Have you know gone through things sexually that you know, I would've never just been like on a negative first date, and been like hey, guess what. But now, very much so describe myself as a survivor, versus as this thing that I never talk about. And so being in partnership with a survivor, is also made me interrogate my own traumas and realize, like actually, you know what, I deserve to wear that title if I want it as well. You know so, - Yeah. - I think that's kind of the beauty, the silver lining, I mean you're beautiful, and you are a silver lining. But, there's also that. - See what I mean. Okay any last words or thoughts for the people. - For the people. You know take care of yourselves, and take care of your people. You deserve it. So do the people you're having sex with. So do the people that you love. You know, for the Ace community out there, take care of yourself. You know, you're worth it. I don't know. - Yeah. I think a last thing too is, and we didn't really say this, explicitly is that a lot of the conversations, I would say actually the majority of the conversations we have had about sex, and consent, and all those different questions have occurred outside of the bedroom. Have occurred right like, not within a sexual situation. And I can't stress that enough, how important that is. Because when you're already in the sexual situation it can just be, it can be that much more awkward, and uncomfortable. But it can also put your person, right, or yourself in this place of feeling like you did something wrong, and then it like kind of puts this stamp on your intimate experience. Right and then you remember that the next time you go into that intimate situation. So as much as possible I would say, try to have these conversations outside of sexual situations. Right, like maybe at brunch. Or like maybe when you're cooking together or something. Or watching a movie right. But definitely not when you're already naked. Unless you're just naked cuddling. In which case, sure. Which we love to naked cuddle. - Adult sleep overs, yay. Well thank you so much O schoolers for joining us. Compassionate Revolt you are so welcome. I'm happy that you could join us, at least for a little while. This will not be the last time that we do something like this. We have these kinds of conversations, even though, you know, it was, all of these streams were special for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I definitely will be streaming about sexual assault again. And hopefully my special guest will join me again to talk about you know, the ways that partners can support one another as well. So yeah, thanks for joining us. Thank you to everyone that has shown their appreciation by tapping the gift jar, we really, really appreciate it. - Woo hoo. Happy birthday Miss Chief O. - Happy birthday again Miss Chief O. Yay. As always please take care of yourself. As they say on the podcast, another round, drink your water, take your meds, call your person. Please, please, please that's really important. You know, pleasure comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. And so it's not always just about sex. Like I said, you know it can be a really good piece of chocolate, or food, or snuggling with your, with your person. This person. Whatever, whatever pleasure looks like for you. So enjoy the rest of your night. Tune in to the other live streams. We have some special guest streams happening in about an hour, so you should definitely check those out. 'Cause they're gonna be awesome. Check out the calendar for upcoming streams. And yeah, I love you all O schoolers. And remember that you deserve pleasure.