Toys After Trauma | Stealing Pleasure Back
Content Warning: Mention of sexual abuse/trauma and effects of abuse.
I’m sure at this point we don’t need to tell you that 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. We’ve wanted to do a story on the potential of using toys as a part of a sexual healing process for some time, but wanted to make sure we did it properly. And as it turns out, that meant not actually doing it ourselves at all. Instead, we were fortunate enough to have a repeat Nox customer and community member reach out to ask if they could share a part of their journey anonymously. We thank them for sharing and are proud to host this moving and personal essay on the Journal. Here’s what they had to say.
For as long as I can remember, I have lied about sex.
My very first sexual experience was abusive and traumatic, and I was too young to know any better. After many years of suffering in shameful silence (and strings of bad relationships) I summoned the courage to seek counselling and begin to heal that part of my soul. As a result, I only really started exploring my body and practicing self-love in the later half of my twenties.
From an outsider’s perspective, I am what some would rightfully call “a late bloomer.” In my case, I struggled to find comfort in pleasuring my own body, because I had been wrongfully inflicted with the notion that sex was something that happened to you, not with you. I couldn’t bring myself to derive any pleasure or well-being from pleasuring myself, and forget ever achieving an orgasm (I have definitely lied about that one.)
So how did I get my first big break? With a ton of patience and the right toys. There was a steady ramp up in the process; tentative massages, which lead to more confident strokes, which lead to more “targeted efforts”… and then, only when I felt I was ready, I made the very serious decision to utilize some additional tools. Except that I had no idea what I was looking for.
At the time, there was no readily available information about masturbating with toys. It was either impossible to find, or absolute, sensationalistic garbage. I had to tread carefully; I had worked so hard to break the connection between self-love and a harmful act. I didn’t want to feel like I was financing an industry that had long-exploited women just like me, creating male fantasies at our greatest expense. I made the conscious decision to avoid sites that had certain keywords (in my case: penetration, pound, pussy…) or that carried any toys aiming to recreate male genitalia (the idea of masturbating to the fake, recreational flesh of an invisible man made me sick.)
I scoured the internet and found blogs and start-ups run by women of all kinds of backgrounds, taking the machismo out of the sex toy industry, creating inclusive sexual experiences for all to enjoy. A wave of relief came over me as I began discovering a whole world of non-phallic, approachable and even esthetically pleasing toys.
For example; Chakrubs, crystal sex toys that look like they were forged in the center of the earth, first caught my eye because of how they look, but in practice provided me with this completely new sense of ritual. To me, they served more as a conductor than a toy, bringing me to a mindful state that went far beyond “fucking myself.” I was skeptical about the idea of responsive stones and crystals, but they genuinely played on my self-confidence. You have no idea how powerful you can feel until you find yourself with a piece of smooth obsidian between your legs.
My biggest struggle was with anything penetrative, so I changed up my strategy. The most profound experience was provided was with a toy much like Lelo’s Sona. Its design makes it completely non-invasive, to the point that you could technically get off without any direct contact at all. I would never have imagined that I would discover the true power of my clitoris (and have my first orgasm!) with the help of sonic waves… but I am grateful every day since that I did.
My journey back into sex was not an easy one, but it was key in retrieving my sense of being in my own body. I understand now how profoundly empowering expressing your love for yourself can be, a power that someone had once tried to steal away from me. If you are a survivor, you are brave and you can reclaim the pleasure from the pain you’ve been caused. It will take time. It will never be a straight line. Seek positive communities (like this one!), professionals and people you can trust – you don’t have to do the tough parts alone.
To all survivors of sexual trauma, we see you and support you ❤️