I’m happy, so why do I fantasise about sex abuse? | Mariella Frostrup

Our imagination can be an outlet for things we wouldn’t do or condone, but craving to be controlled might be worth exploring with a therapist, says Mariella Frostrup

The Dilemma I am a woman in my early 20s, about to graduate from university and consider myself very independent with a healthy, normal, happy life. About two years ago I started watching porn. I didn’t even know what to look for, then I began to develop my own tastes and searched for specific things. What worries me is that my searches are for simulations of abuse – something that doesn’t reflect at all what I feel about the subject. I hate patriarchy and rape culture. Another issue that worries me is that now, when having sex with my boyfriend, I invent abuse stories and play them in my head in order to reach orgasm. I don’t like to role play any of those fantasies, I like to feel loved when having sex. I feel like none of this is healthy nor nurturing for my self development. Is it really that worthy of preoccupation?

Mariella replies It’s food for thought. Many women (and men) have similar fantasies and, as you have found, it doesn’t mean they want them made real. Nor does it mean there’s anything wrong with you or detract from all the other more wholesome qualities you ascribe to your life and personality. Fantasies, like dreams, are generally an outlet for emotions and psychological undercurrents we can’t or don’t want to include in our everyday experience. How lucky we are to have brains that can conjure the places we don’t want to go.

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Alex Vidal