Negative Body Image and Sexual Shame Created by Sexual Assault

In The Obsidian Mirror, Louise experiences a lot of shame surrounding sex and her body.  Louise says she hates her body, and she says she was the fat, ugly friend when she was younger. She still holds a negative view of her body as she grows up, even after she has lost weight and matured.

As an adult, she describes herself as “heartless” because she has sex with men and then discards them. She says she uses them and they use her. I believe she has casual sex to feel positive about her body, and achieve, albeit briefly, the attention she has always wanted but never received as a child.

As an adult, Louise doesn’t really want to engage in sexual behaviors; I think she only does so to feel wanted. Louise describes feeling embarrassed by sex because she doesn’t know what she’s doing, while everyone else seems to have a greater grasp on how to be intimate. I think a lot of the reasoning behind Louise’s shame comes from her sexual abuse as a child. She connects sex with being dirty and feeling violated, whereas her peers may view sex in a very different way. Louise remembers trying to resist sexual advances from her stepfather, uncle, and grandfather, but her body betrayed her and let these men violate her repeatedly from a very young age.

Louise initially represses memories of her abuse, and they are only recovered once she begins massage therapy. Many of her repressed memories surface when her masseuse releases tension in specific parts of her body that were associated with the abuse. During one massage session, Louise has a lot of tension in her back and butt muscles, and when her masseuse begins to massage that area, Louise remembers her Uncle Kevin assaulting her anus. Louise locked away these memories in her body, and kept her body tense so she wouldn’t have to remember and relive her trauma. Her abuse created a lot of shame and discomfort with her body, which led her to repress her memories.

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