cherry red

cherry red

arin lohr

caitlin johannes

CW: mentions of sexual assault and rape, explicit sexual content, brief mentions of depression/suicide and eating disorders as symptoms of PTSD

Maybe I felt betrayed by my own body. I had always loved the kissing part when it came to sex. The act of holding someone close and feeling skin touch skin in a warm embrace brought me more gratification than any other advance. I loved lying in bed lazily and exchanging morning kisses. I loved sneaking quick smooches when people weren’t looking, hugging like I wasn’t allowed to let go, and being a little spoon on chilly winter nights. For all intents and purposes, I loved the semantics of a relationship.

I had never shied away from public affection, and I had never protested when I was being touched and held tenderly. My queer body sang 70s glam rock when I finally felt seen and touched by another man. I was enthusiastic to make out in a bed that wasn’t mine and laugh when my teeth accidentally clacked against his. My heart caught on fire when I realized I could be loved like all the girls who bragged about losing their virginity in math class. Until it came to the virginity part.

This is all to say, I liked sex until the part where we had to take off our pants. I enjoyed sex until the part where I had to fake my own pleasure. I loved sex until the part where I had to prove something. I loved sex until my body disagreed and then numbed me into complacency.

i can’t tell

if i’m numb from past treatment

or if i’ve

always been this way

because you violated me

while also





my che

rry without

explicit perm


and even

the first time

i wasn’t sure

if you were just bad

or if i was just broken

maybe i felt betrayed

by my own body

because it let you in

without ever asking me

It takes years to recognize that you’ve been raped when you’ve repeatedly told yourself you were supposed to enjoy it. You don’t initially understand that being begged to have sex isn’t normal. You don’t initially grasp that being begged until your no changes to a yes is manipulation. Years later, you stare into the mirror and picture the bruises of harsh kisses on your neck reforming, and you shiver to think you had them at all.

Before he was my boyfriend he had tried to fuck me in my wobbly twin bed with something my body couldn’t take and I said “ouch” as if he shouldn’t have known. His hands fumbled while leaving bruises on my thighs, and I cried when his hand gripped my throat without asking. Before he was my boyfriend, he asked me to touch him. Before he was my boyfriend, he asked me to have a threesome. Before he was my boyfriend, he took my virginity.

At the age of 14 I wasn’t thinking about the signs of an abusive relationship, or questioning why my boyfriend’s money was going toward sex toys. Turning 15 didn’t flip a switch either. In fact, I couldn’t stop allowing a boy to violate me when he acted like it was my choice. I hobbled around his house and he laughed at the swelling irritation between my thighs. He laughed when I said it hurt to piss for three days after.

I’d just like to let you know that when a boy says, “You won’t get high the first time,” he is lying and trying to convince you that you’d look better with your clothes off. Chugging milk from the jug on his kitchen floor isn’t sexy enough, he will drag you to the bedroom. You won’t get away from him by snacking to avoid your problems. No matter how much you stop to aimlessly rub your eyes, he will lift your shirt off and feel your chest.

He won’t stop until you start crying and then he will feign a few apologies when he realizes you aren’t stoned anymore. When he realizes you aren’t oblivious to what is happening anymore. I gripped onto the stupid, flimsy cotton of my old fall out boy t-shirt and held it to my chest while he stroked my arm and kissed my cheek. He asked if I wanted to smoke more. I put my shirt on and forgot how to speak.

Sometimes you don’t know you’ve been drugged until a few years later when you cry naked on your bedroom floor while blasting a stupid, angsty Bayside song.

I just can’t handle this, I’m just so scared of it

A challenge fit for a man when I’m just a kid

I’m all torn at the seams, just like you said I’d be

If this is love then I don’t want a part of it

if i have to listen to shitty emo indie bands and

cry myself to sleep to feel better

then that’s my own business

maybe i remind myself of you

just to remind myself

that i’m not crazy for being traumatized

imposter syndrome is a bitch

and i know her well

id just like to remind you

that at 14

i was not ready to smoke your shitty pot

or take my shirt off

i have dreams where you mature and change as a person

imagine if you were worthy.

imagine if you had changed.

Being asexual was a thought, but I just hadn’t found the right person. I talked about sex too much to not enjoy it. I had convinced myself I loved sex. You wouldn’t have caught me dead without my pride condoms and one of those silly little lube packets. I didn’t think about people training me to want sex, or society claiming that I had to like sex.

Asexual people received a pat on the back and a, “You’ll understand it someday, buddy,” or an, “I bet I could change your mind.” No one listens when you say anti-asexuality is a hate crime.

That can include verbal abuse or unwanted sexual touching from acquaintances and anti-asexual domestic abuse from family or partners. This also includes actual and threats of so-called “corrective” rape, to “fix” the person’s orientation.

In my freshman year of college I finally found a song that talked about not understanding your own relationship to sex. I thought I had wanted something sexual. In fact, I had craved something sexual. So many times after him I had genuinely wanted to be with someone. I knew that I wanted to love and to be loved, but when I got myself into a sexual situation, I wasn’t as enthusiastic. I was all for the pleasure of others, and I found the human form marvelous and beautiful, but I didn’t feel a thing.

I want to hold you tight

I want to feel your love physically

I want to sleep with you

But only in the literal sense

I can’t tell you if I like it I like it

What happens if I don’t like it? I like you

I can’t tell you if I like it I like it

What happens if I don’t like it? It’s only sex!

I wanted to kiss for hours, even just touch. I still loved kissing. I let myself get fucked. Not out of lust, but out of a desire to feel desire. It was just sex, and eventually I would enjoy it. Eventually I would stop faking my orgasms and feel loved and touched and satisfied. I wanted to know someone better than they knew themself and break them apart from the inside out.

this isn’t mine

i can’t hate a body that was never mine and so when someone asks if i hate my body i don’t know what to say other than my body hates me for what i put it through in my dazed confusion when i wrongfully think i own a body built for what i desire or a body built for desire at all so when you ask how i feel about my body first understand that this is not my body it’s just the face i look back at in the mirror sometimes_

Depersonalization is the sense of being detached from, or “not in” one’s body. This is what is often referred to as an “out-of-body” experience. However, some people report rather profound alienation from their bodies, a sense that they do not recognize themselves in the mirror, recognize their face, or simply feel not “connected” to their bodies in ways which are challenging to articulate (Frey, 2001; Guralnik, Schmeidler, & Simeon, 2000; Maldonado et al., 2002; Simeon et al., 2001; Spiegel & Cardeña; Steinberg, 1995).

i can’t make eye contact

with myself

let alone with the man currently fucking me

maybe it’s because we met on grindr

or because we met on grindr

this morning

or because im asexual

but i can’t bring myself to say anything

other than “yes

im fine”

other than “yes

that feels good”

and his hand is circling my throat,

contrasting with my pale skin

and i don’t tell him

i’ve been choked before

and it made me cry

i say choking is kinky

and i’m the slut he wants

from me

my skin is lifting away from my body

making it hard to feel

i have curled up into

my own head

and turned on autopilot

i don’t say anything when he

keeps going

or when he can’t stay

inside of me

i make myself moan like a bitch

i start tapping my fingers

on my brand new bedsheets

and wondering how long the smell

will linger

he tells me stories about his best friend’s

record player

before he leaves me naked in my own bed

and for a moment i think the



is worth the payout

of ideas for short stories

When you have flings with really nice guys you start to wonder why they didn’t tell you about their friend’s record player before putting a condom on. For the first time in a completely meaningless interaction, I found myself feeling the warmth of intimacy. I wanted to pass out thinking of him lacing up his boots and leaving me alone in bed. I wanted him to pull up, tell me he respects me too much to fuck me again without getting to know me, and take me on a weird romantic car ride along breezy backroads.

He looked at me like I had graced him with my weird body and man-vagina and pulled away. There was no contact after that and definitely no road trip where we talked about our feelings. I deleted grindr and let his unanswered texts sit on my phone.

Demisexuality is the only name for the need to have a connection with someone before feeling attraction. However, some people might use terms for other modes of graysexuality to refer to demisexuality. These include:

  • Gray-Ace
  • Hyposexual
  • Semisexual
  • Low sexual intensity
  • Asexual-ish
  • Sexual-ish

Maybe I was just fucking before feelings, and it was fucking me up in return. But I had loved so many people and thought of sleeping with so many people and no matter how hard I tried, all I pictured was the brutal murder of my internal organs and the apathy I felt while being destroyed.

For example, someone may think about an event that was tremendously upsetting yet have no feelings about it. Clinically, this is termed emotional numbing, one of the hallmarks of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maybe this was why when I was getting fucked, I didn’t feel like I was getting fucked. I didn’t feel anything, in fact I felt like I was no longer home. I had decided the idea of getting fucked was so traumatic that I could pretend I didn’t care when it hurt. Maybe I had numbed my own body to get away from that hurt. Maybe I thought it was funny to see if I could change it somehow by getting fucked.

But it was just sex.

Childhood sexual trauma is associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), my limbs didn’t pretend to detach from my body for nothing. They were afraid to see what would happen if I became fully engaged in the sexual process. If I moved wrong, pulling a muscle to remind me of getting badly fingered on my on couch while I couldn’t say anything to stop it. One time dropping food on the floor made me cry because I remembered my boyfriend calling me an idiot in the hallway at lunch. My body stopped responding as a defense mechanism.

depression, when I couldn’t leave my house no one asked me why. I wasn’t depressed because I was alone I was depressed because I was an empty fucking shell. Because I was too hollowed out to feel anxious anymore, I instead decided to feel nothing at all. Sometimes not eat, not sleep, because someone said his name too close to me.

suicide, I was too anxious to do it, but my roommate reminded me that there is more than one form of self-harm and that not looking both ways before crossing a street is casually suicidal. Fucking men I didn’t want to fuck was a form of self-harm. Thinking I deserved to feel pain instead of pleasure was a form of self-harm.

 alcohol problems, thank god I never fucking drank.

 and eating disorders, but I made up for it with a healthy assortment of all three eating disorders in the book over the years. Try explaining why you can’t eat, want to puke, and eat 3,000 calories in one sitting to your therapist.

Survivors may also experience low sexual interest and relationship difficulties and engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and extreme coping strategies. Which explains why I don’t want to have sex but keep having sex. Why I sometimes want someone to slap me in the face during sex. Why I’d give a blowjob just to feel useful again if someone asked.

You’re fucking lucky I’m sitting here and dealing with your bullshit now, and yes, I went to therapy.

I’m developing trauma-based fetishes as we speak.

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Avoiding sex will not harm a person’s health, and it may even be healthy. People who feel concerned about low sexual desire or the effects of infrequent sex on their relationship can talk about their concerns with a doctor or therapist. Oct 1, 2019

Not having sex for a long time: Are there side effects? › articles

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Mar 22, 2021 — Not everyone needs or even wants to have sex — and that can be okay. “The truth is that low sex drives are normal,” Dr. Fabello affirms.

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Oct 24, 2018 — First thing’s first: Not having sex doesn’t mean you’re broken. … to get your sexual needs met and now you’ve lost interest, that’s perfectly OK.

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the harsh reality

is that no one will ever

touch me

the way i want to be touched

not even myself.

            Now is the part where I reassure you that I am okay and I understand myself now. I tell you how far I’ve come and all the things that I have learned and you tell me how strong I am for touching these keys and beating up this page.

I won’t.

But I’m thriving without sex. Kissing my queer friends without sex. Enjoying my life without sex. Writing about sex without sex.

it’s not

that i don’t



i could lay

awake thinking

about how much i’d like to feel

pleasure or dream about wandering hands

and my body pressed       into your covers

but not

until my skin fuses                                 to another

until my soul mingles

with a lover, will my

climax be reached or my

body be


arin lohr
+ posts

is a creative writing major at SU and an aspiring author. He focuses on impactful collections of poetry and is interested in writing more short stories. His other interests include painting, singing, and playing the ukulele. His dream job is vending at music festivals.