Sexuality: The Missing Partner and The Missing Self (A Response to Sexual Aggression)

Our sexuality and the sexual experience is a powerful expression of desired and encountered closeness, a deeply spiritual interaction between one heart and another, that celebrates an already established intimate knowing within the relationship.

Within the sexual dimension we see each other face-to-face, an opportunity to engage in transcendent pleasure together, which can create a greater closeness amongst two lovers. Although a great challenge because of multiple variables, a mutual enjoyment, in however it is expressed, is the objective, leading to a richly satisfying moment shared between the two and both a cultivated and deepened bond in the relationship.

The way we express our sexuality and sexual engagement is an extension of our own self-image and our relational experiences in our life. It is not a separate entity, but a dimension where the honest self (both the messiness and beauty) comes forth.

My passion is to begin writing and talking about sexuality and all of its facets. Clearly, sex has been researched and discussed through so many forums and contributors, but sometimes it misses the heart underneath, including the individual lost in their own sexuality, compulsion, etc. My hope is not only that my reflections on the subject shed new light or insight, but that it stirs something up and creates conversation. Understanding our own sexuality and how intrinsic it is to our being and connectedness is vital and needed. May we not feel shame and be able to take an honest exploration into our own hearts within the realm of sexuality.

An issue within sexuality that deserves further understanding is that of the perpetrator of sexual aggression, especially considering it being a pervasive and ongoing problem. With the continual surfacing of stories regarding this painful issue, much will be said in regards to revealing the “who” in the perpetrator/victim dynamic, but not so much in the “why”. The explanation of why the perpetrator acts in such a way seems to be understood as a power/control issue, which is somewhat accurate and yet leaves much left unturned.

Some may think that understanding the heart of a perpetrator of sexual aggression is agreeing with what they have done; but understanding is not agreement, for such behavior is destructive and violating. But our tendency as humans is to ostracize and demonize out of hate, and that is, for a time, a necessary and understandable response when one has been inflicted with such pain by another. However, the continual response to ex-communicate such persons from society will never address the root issue, which is crucial for any sort of change to occur.

My theory as to why someone acts out in such coercive and aggressive ways comes from a clouded sense of their own hearts. Within the heart are deeply intrinsic needs for closeness and intimacy. Such a heart longs to be seen, heard, valued, needed and desired. But what contaminates this is both an intense self-hatred and anger paired with a terror of rejection and not being wanted. Forcing someone to engage in any sexual act cures for a split-second any inflammation of insecurity, fear, and a disconnected/detached self. This person has little sense of self, attempting desperately to quiet the nagging presence of loneliness, emptiness and vacantness. To do so, they end up using or victimizing another to feel a transient sense of wholeness within.

The perpetrator is both enraged and filled with hate for his own internal pain that he has carried throughout his life and projects it through the sexual experience. He also avoids the beautiful vulnerable encounter of engaging and interacting intimately with a woman, to which he is terrified of being told “no” and thus reignited what already is present within himself, a weak, fragile and pain-saturated ego.

To detach further from the excruciating shame and painful responsibility of victimizing someone, they develop a defense that rationalizes or justifies their behavior, blaming the victim for sending such signals of “wanting” it, including the way she dressed or flirted or displayed hints of desire. In fact, we have created a culture within masculinity that has bought into this belief. This is quite terrifying, for what they either consciously or unconsciously ignore are her signs of disinterest, detachment, pulling away and/or pain, taking advantage of her own vulnerabilities and personhood for the sake of curing their own empty selves.

I vehemently disagree with any idea that a woman was “asking for it” because of her demeanor. It is a horrific defense that eschews responsibility for one’s own actions. No one is asking nor inviting violence, coercion or unsafe aggression in the sexual encounter with another. The way she may dress or interact in a flirtatious demeanor is not an invitation for coercion and aggression, but often an injured attempt to be seen, known, and valued; a blatant message of trying to meet her own heart needs.

An authentic, intimate, and mutually enjoyable sexual experience is when both persons are connected to their own hearts, sensations, desires and care for that of the other, mutually enjoying both their own pleasure and the other’s. It is the ability to stay present within their own self as they engage with their partner.

I believe what obstructs this experience is when we disconnect from our own hearts, distancing and obscuring an awareness and care of our own needs, emotional, relational and sexual, that inevitably inhibits us from caring and understanding our partner’s. Self-hatred, fear, and shame around our own heart needs interferes with knowing ourselves. And when we lack the awareness of our own self and our own identity, we will use the sexual experience to generate wholeness within, but doing so can result in our partner being victimized, alone, isolated, rejected and abandoned in his or her own needs and self.

The imminent response is that the heart of a perpetrator must be confronted and he must travel inside to honestly address his own distortions, pains and lost self. Generating a society that unites in doing this is vital for there to be healing with both the perpetrator and the victim. It requires boldness, honesty, devotion and compassion to address and untangle the mess within for there to be any change and transformation.