How To Enjoy Sex After You've Had An Abusive Boyfriend

ELLE delves into the lives of four women whose sex lives drastically changed or altered after a traumatic event. Fourth in our series is Sadie who, after a two-year depression, followed by a two-year abusive relationship, spent time celibate to regain her sexual self.

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Before the age of 26, I was a little vixen. You know what my line was? 'I'm filthy, but I'm faithful'. I had never had a bad sexual experience. I was a musician, hanging around Camden with various bands and having a seriously great time.

I always used protection, always had fun and walked away from it feeling great. I thought: 'never going to see them again, that was fun, boom, on with the week'.

So what changed? Well, I fell in love.

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The only problem was that, soon after our relationship started, he had to leave the country. My band also broke up around the time that this, which was my first real relationship, failed and, although this sounds like a fantasy now, the ceilings of my Muswell Hill flat fell in. I had nowhere to live, no band and was experiencing love lost for the very first time.

This led to a two-year depression. There were a lot of tears cried, was a lot of Sylvia Plath read.

And then I met him. He was a bartender, obviously, and very good looking.

I don't want to sound like a dick, but I know I've got stuff going on. I'm attractive and confident. But, at that point, I was so low and heartbroken, and he was so handsome, I couldn't believe that he actually liked me.

If I'd met him now, he probably wouldn't make it past the first date. He was a drug addict, a party boy, and I was a mess.

Immediately the sex was good and there was a lot of it. Something I have always enjoyed, and been good at, is giving head. I see it as a very empowering thing for me to do, a feminist thing.

Unfortunately, the power shifted. Despite the fact that he was the jobless drug addict, I needed to have him around. I loved having someone to do stuff with.

So we travelled, and I payed for everything. He moved into my flat in Highgate and lived rent free. At this point, the comments began. I have always loved dressing flamboyantly, but he would make little digs, things like 'that's a bit much'. Basically anything to put me down.

Not long after, we went to Thailand for a month (again, I payed for everything) and that was when things got really bad.

The warning sign was on the flight. I politely refused a drink from the air steward and he leant in close and whispered so quietly, so menacingly: 'If someone offers you a drink, you f***ing take it'.

He was a drug addict, a party boy, and I was a mess

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When we landed, we noticed a mobile phone had been left on the seat next to us. He took it (meaning to keep it), and when I protested, replied, 'No skin off my nose'.

He had shown me who he was, and it would get worse.

One day on the holiday he slapped me, and that night forced me to have sex on the beach. It felt like an out of body experience. I was frozen.

The next day I remember looking at him and thinking 'What the f*** am I doing? Why am I here in this amazing place with you? I should be here with someone who loves me'.

I became a shell of a person. He constantly called me, told me to come home and make him dinner. He said I looked like a clown with makeup on, slapped me and forced me into sex a couple more times. The physical abuse was there. When I came home, he would literally have his c*** out. This was my life for almost two years.

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One day, however, I found hundreds of Facebook messages from other women and something inside me snapped.

For the first time, I emailed my friends and told them what was happening. I put on Beyoncé's 'Irreplaceable' and packed his stuff up in bin bags wearing just my knickers.

Suddenly I was Sadie again, and he was so scared he left immediately (after returning my keys and my Oyster card, of course).

Although I felt relieved, there was still considerable damage done. The desire to have sex and be seen as sexual having been beaten out of me. I didn't even want a man to look at me, so I ate - and ate - to become a fortress. It felt amazing.

This guy had become my everything, and when I left him I filled the gap, firstly with food, which was amazing, but then with creativity.

I didn't go out (or have sex) for nearly a year, and I have a book to show for it

I was overcome with the desire to write it all out. I wrote my feelings out in the space of a year. Sitting, writing and eating. I remember clearly the utter joy at truthfully writing out the account of our relationship, I think it's the only way I could deal with it and move on. I also found an acting coach who was an amazing support.

I made a decision to give myself a break. I didn't go out (or have sex) for nearly a year, and I have a book to show for it.

After a two-year-long physically and mentally abusive relationship, I had learned to link sex with force and as something I definitely didn't want to do.

There was sadness during that year, sure, but there was also an overwhelming sense of relief. The spell of such low self-esteem had been lifted and the constant demand for sex was gone.

Over time I fully reclaimed who I was . My (larger) body was all my own, my mind was filled with my own creative pursuits and everything that I had given him - money, sex and more - was mine again.

The first person I slept with after my year-long celibacy with was really kind, cool guy around my age who I instantly clicked with. But we didn't have sex straight away; I took a few months to sleep with him.

Not to be crude, but once it was 'in', I felt like I forgot how long it had been.

He was from East London and helped me to correct everything my ex had made me believe about myself. I saw him for a while but we were on different paths and I wasn't looking to get into a relationship at that time. It was, however, just the boost I needed.

I feel very sexually open now. That's not to say I am looking for a man, I'm just thrilled to be me and living life my way.

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