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My husband and I almost missed dinner at the lodge on our wedding night because he didn’t want to leave his brother’s house and his son. He seemed to have no interest in time alone with me. We arrived at the remote lodge at 9 p.m. just in time to order from the limited choices of what was left. We then retired to our room where he watched TV. In the morning I thought we’d make love, get breakfast, and go for a hike to the abandoned mines. He showered and then read a magazine while I got ready. He barely spoke to me and argued that he just wanted to go get his son. We got a coffee and left the lodge.

A month later, shortly before he choked me for the first time, he sat up in bed, very, very angry, and screamed at me, “You’re f—–g me to death!” I would say he had very little interest in sex, but that isn’t really true. He had very little interest in me. Again, apparently I wasn’t measuring up.

Six months later he brought home a sexually transmitted disease.

He had boxes and boxes of pornography and rented or borrowed movies almost daily. He talked frequently about having porn parties with the guys from work. He made me talk dirty to him, telling him what I would do to someone else if there was another guy there. If I refused, he didn’t seem capable of completing the act. He even brought home a friend from work, expecting me to “do” them both. I left and went for a drive. They hung out and drank beer, waiting for me to come back. It was 4:30 in the morning before they accepted that I was not going to comply, and his friend finally left.

A few years later, after I had left him briefly, he asked me to have another child with him and did so in such a charming, sweet way that I, of course, said yes.  Afterall, he had even gone to counseling with me at my church.  Certainly, he was trying now.  I assumed trying to get pregnant meant we’d engage in sexual activity more frequently. It didn’t. My youth pastor’s wife got pregnant about the same time I did, and they didn’t want to be. She angrily confessed to me, “I don’t know how I even got pregnant. We only did it three times all month!” I, too, got pregnant with only three attempts all month, but my husband thought three times was expecting too much because he worked so hard.  The next month we went back to our usual one or two, but I was already pregnant by that time.

Of course, there were the constant put downs, the constant remarks about my cellulite, about me looking like my mother, about being fat or not “getting my body back” after the babies.  Perhaps he was trying to convince me that those were the reasons for his disinterest.

I remember frequently complaining to a friend that I shouldn’t hate sex so much, it’s only three to five minutes once a month. I should just be able to close my eyes and deal with that. I just couldn’t. I hated it. There came a point when, for about a year, our physical relationship consisted of me bending over the bathroom sink once a month for him to “relieve” himself. In between that there was no kissing, no hand holding, no signs of affection at all.

When he left we had not had any type of physical contact for over a year.

So, if our sense of our own loveliness is based upon feeling desired for our unique beauty, it’s easy to see why I feel so ugly. For me, sex and desire have meant shame, confusion, rape, competition, and rejection. Sex was the secret weapon of every single one of my abusers.  It’s no wonder I feel like that brute beast. Beasts stand in the field and watch silently, chewing their cuds, as other beasts breed. The female beast is never wooed by her potential mate and sometimes must even be restrained for breeding. Breeding, procreation, is the only reason to engage in the act. Beasts mount the female from behind and can be extremely aggressive and even dangerous when they’re in rut.

The Bible says that sex is a beautiful, intimate one fleshed, spiritual union. Proverbs 30:19 lists the way of a man with a maid as one of the things too wonderful to understand. Ephesians 5:28-32 says So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

God does not illustrate an idea of brute beasts selfishly using each other. He paints a beautiful picture of a man desiring and cleaving to his wife, nourishing her and making her feel beautiful.  Therefore, it should be a spiritual act committed with physical bodies wherein we share the most intimate parts of ourselves–our very essence, our souls.

Perhaps that is why they choose sex as their secret weapon.  It has the ability to destroy our spirits, our most hidden self, our essence, like no other form of abuse.