Melissa experienced childhood sexual abuse and is dealing with its long-term impacts. She has a complicated pleasure response and is working on reframing how she views sex after abuse.

Melissa is a 40-year-old, cis-gender female who describes herself as Latina, heterosexual, monogamous, married with 3 boys.  She grew up in the United States and currently lives with her family in Australia.

Public Service Announcements:

Sex is not just about the male partner’s ejaculation, and the male partner’s ejaculation is not your job! For more on this, listen to our conversation at 42:05.

How Healing Happens:

After childhood sexual abuse, Melissa is determined to keep unpacking her experiences and shaping a sex life that feels like actual fun. She knows she is blessed with a good partner. She’s sought therapy, and pays attention. She just plain wants better. The search for real joy has become her driving force. “I’m all about breaking generational issues! That’s just me!”

Here are some of the notable moments she shared with us:

  • 4:15 – Her first memory of sexual pleasure at 16 and having a moment alone that felt differently and purely “good.”
  • 5:50 – Melissa reveals that she experienced childhood trauma around sex.
  • 9:00 – Sex ed (in the 90’s) was mostly watching old (70’s/80’s) videos in school which were biologically oriented. She received a lot of negative messaging around sex—from parents about pregnancy, from her childhood abuse.
  • 15:40 – The repressive effects of growing up Catholic and of childhood sexual trauma continue into college.
  • 17:00 – Her first relationship is with the man who later became her husband; she met him at age 17 in college.
  • 18:10 – She didn’t have sex with her boyfriend initially but the activities they did remind her of something wrong.
  • 18:50 – Melissa describes what it’s like to be energetically divided within the sexual experience by past trauma—part of the brain being devoted to assuring herself she’s safe, and only whatever is left can experience the pleasure.
  • 20:00 – Her boyfriend/husband is the first person she opened up to about the abuse and he suggested getting therapy.
  • 22:50 – She had sex for the first time with her boyfriend (now-husband) 2 years into their relationship.
  • 25:25 – She describes in detail what the body detachment from pleasure was like to experience, and it turns out this is a common trauma response. Also that she performed the acts to please him, not herself.
  • 26:40 – Leah talks about autonomic responses, with or without the experience of actual pleasure.
  • 28:00 – Leah talks about how little girls are socialized into the habit of taking care of others and performing pleasure.
  • 32:50 – Melissa reconciles “ordinary” behaviors with her trauma behaviors, and through trust in her husband she’s able to try new things and through therapy to hold new ideas.
  • 36:00 – Melissa shares her sexual turn-ons.
  • 37:15 – She talks about the impact of timing and motherhood and having to shift mindsets for sex.
  • 38:18 – Sex currently in the marriage is “good” though not “yay” or “joy.”
  • 40:00 – Going to the gym, in addition to therapy, has helped Melissa with health and body image and reaching desired goals while releasing trauma. She’s also trying to consciously transition from thinking of sex as work to thinking of it as fun time.
  • 41:30 – She talks more about what it means to feel like sex is a job.
  • 42:05 – Is it sex if the man doesn’t ejaculate?

The Lowdown (45:33)

  • Do you have sex during your period?
  • What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?
  • Do you prefer clit stimulation or penetration?
  • What is your favorite way to orgasm during sex?

 The Patreon extras for this episode are:

  • $5/month – How having kids has affected Melissa’s relationship with her body and with sex
  • $7/month – The extended Lowdown Q&A


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Host – Leah Carey (website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, email)

Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby

Music – Nazar Rybak