Betrayed by my body: survivor experiences of sexual arousal and psychological pleasure during sexual violence

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  • 1 University of New South Wales, , Australia
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It might be assumed that victim experiences of sexual violence are characterised by fear and pain, and while this is true for many, the phenomenology of sexual violence is more complex than this. Increasingly, sexuality research is recognising that people can desire and have a positive regard toward sexual encounters that they do not consent or agree to, however there is limited scholarship examining victim experiences of pleasure or arousal during sexual violence. This article presents a thematic analysis of 50 posts describing the experience of arousal and/or pleasure during sexual violence drawn from Reddit, the popular online discussion board. The findings highlight the importance of distinguishing between physiological arousal, psychological pleasure and consent, and the significant shame and self-blame of survivors who feel that an aroused or pleasurable response implicates them in their own assault. The article closes by reflecting on the importance of distinguishing between consent, arousal and pleasure in sexual violence policy and practice, and recognising that arousal and pleasure are features of non-consensual as well as consensual encounters.

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  • 1 University of New South Wales, , Australia

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