Now Nare is seeing a psychologist. “Sometimes I remember some incidents during the sessions and my psychologist first thinks they are the products of my imagination. After detailed questioning we eventually realize that it actually happened, I am only now remembering it,” she says.
Thanks to her therapy, Nare now realizes the sexual abuse she suffered as a child is still affecting her today, especially in her own relationships. She cannot say “no” to sex, even when she doesn’t want it. She is also numb during sex: her fear has shut down her body’s sensitivity to touch.
Domestic Violence Led to Sexual Abuse
“I never desired sex. There was a period when I didn’t want to have sex at all. I avoided meeting up with my boyfriend, especially when I knew that was the purpose.”
Pogosyan, the expert from Women's Resource Center NGO, notes that domestic violence also has a negative impact on women’s sexual and reproductive health. It is not only about physical abuse. “Psychological and economical violence are the most common. In this situation a woman is regularly humiliated, her self-confidence and self-sufficient are undermined, they insult her, prohibiting her from communicating with her friends or parents,” Pogosyan explains.
Memories of the abuse she witnessed and experienced as a child still haunts 27-year-old Vardine.*
Her parents had an abusive marriage, with constant fighting and physical violence. While Vardine was not always the target of the blows, the collective impact has traumatized her.
Aside from physical violence, Vardine said her childhood was marred by the psychological abuse she suffered after accidently witnessing her parents have sex.
“If I went out of my room, I would have seen how it is done. That happened once. I left immediately, as it was none of my business,” she says.
This incident happened when Vardine was seven or eight years old. It was the first time that she accidentally witnessed her parents having sex, but she had been hearing them having sex since she was four.
“When I was around five or six years old, I understood what that sound was. It was disgusting. It destroyed my sleep and affected on my nerves. I started to hate nights. It impacted my sexual life and on my formation as a woman. I was disgusted by the male body and by sexual affairs for a long time. That was a huge psychological blow, which I consider to be a form of domestic violence,” says Vardine.
She notes that her longest relationship, four years, was abusive, something she only realized after they broke up.
“I never desired sex. There was a period when I didn’t want to have sex at all. I avoided meeting up with my boyfriend, especially when I knew that was the purpose. Eventually, I was manipulated into doing it… When you have a stable relationship you try to satisfy the needs of the other side,” says Vardine.
“That is sexual-psychological abuse, as I was forced to have a long-term sexual relationship with him in order to not upset him.”