Religious Trauma Part 4: Sex

By Valerie Rice and Andrea Watson | December 27, 2020

Photo by Kat Jayne on

I did warn you. Sex is a normal human behavior. Well, if you were raised in a twisted bit of religious cult, it is not. In fact, sex is so shrouded in secrecy in shame, you never had a chance. Not only do you get to skip over the talk about what all your parts ARE, you also don’t get to know what they are FOR, which means that as a full grown adult you probably have very little idea about how things are supposed to go. To highlight this, we have a real life example.


All through my childhood, up until my adulthood, I was taught that my body is bad…and sex is worse. Sex =no, No, NO!!!!! Don’t you DARE have sex, for any reason, EVER! Nevermind that they expected me to get married to a returned missionary and crank out a bunch of “chosen” children. What, no sex involved there? Oh, there is??? So where was that part of the brain hammering? Nowhere. They totally skipped the part when sex would be expected of me and finally OK to engage in, within certain boundaries. I got nothin’.

When I became sexually active for the first time I was 16. It was a rebellion against the cult that I totally didn’t believe in but had been stuck in forever. It was a rebellion against my father, who had hurt me in other ways. I didn’t do it for pleasure; I have never really been able to feel sexual pleasure. I think it might be obvious why. It’s definitely psychological. I had sex with a girl for the first time when I was 17. It was wonderful but still, no fulfillment. 

“Sex was a mystery I rushed toward only to find pain and disappointment. “


Throughout my adult life, I have had a lot of sex. But I was never able to orgasm in any of those encounters. Once, I got close and so I put a stop to it, physically not allowing myself to experience the release. Why? Because my body is bad and sex is worse. No, No, NO! I have felt orgasm before, but it is always just me involved, and it gives me no real pleasure. It’s just another chore to be done. My mind simply won’t let me enjoy it, even though I have been out from under the Mormon oppression for the majority of my life now. 

“If I ever allow myself to orgasm now, I end up sobbing and burning in shame. So I don’t. ”


I harbor a deep, burning hatred for the Mormon religion, even after all of this time. They condemn me for liking other women. They damn me for having sex out of wedlock. They shame and revile me for masturbating. At least, I know they would if I was still there putting up with their bullshit. They would banish me for how I was born. I have been pansexual my whole life and that is never okay in their book. The sexual oppression I received from the church and its leaders is my biggest beef with this organization. 

My father keeps begging me to go back. But how could I possibly tuck tail and go slinking back to this entity that would damn me for being me and would punish me harshly if they knew all of the things I have done in my life? They wouldn’t even accept me back if I tried. 

I truly wish that I could enjoy sex. I’m afraid I will never be able to. I will miss out on this important part of life completely. I am too damaged to fix, I think. This mental blockage is too fortified and way too deep to break through it. The furnace of my rage lies deep inside of me, but it burns bright and strong nonetheless. Perhaps one day I’ll have a nice sexual experience, but I doubt it. 

“I no longer seek sexual experience because it is too terrifying. So I stay single because I am afraid of any partner’s desires.”



What is most important for you to understand is that people who suffer from religious trauma do not have the ability to have healthy sex lives. Women are conditioned not to say no to men and do not have a concept of consent, and conversly, the men feel entitled to sex from women. Both sexes deal with incredible amounts of shame when it comes to lust or masturbation, which are normal parts of sexual development and life as an adult. The internalized shame and guilt often causes mental health issues like depression and anxiety where none should have been. I remember during  my grad school days discussing sex addiction and the parts of the country with the highest “problem.” Note the quotations? Yeah, because it is in Utah. The problem isn’t addiction as much as it is the belief that thinking about or desiring sex is a problem. It is not. I repeat : SEX IS NORMAL, YOU CAN THINK ABOUT IT.


If you can relate to the people above, please know that you are not alone. Do you have your journal? Good.. So draw for me, or write, what comes to your mind when you think about sex. Don’t worry, this is just a purging exercise. Hey, did you get yourself a counselor yet? If we are this far, you are going to need one. Alright, so scream into the void, email me, find a supportive friend, do whatever. The community of survivors is huge. Until next time, be well.

Published by vrice2010

A mother, an author, a nerd. After many years working in the fields of mental health and developmental disabilities, graduating from the University of Phoenix, and pouring my talents into my local community, I decided to spread my wings and reach a wider audience.

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