I have an uncomfortable question to ask. This is the kind of question that should really be answered by a medical professional, but I already asked one and she was very cruel in her response, basically telling me that my question was stupid and that I should just stop thinking about it (like it's that easy). So I thought you guys might be able to offer your opinions.

I was abused by my mother's boyfriend for roughly a year when I was nine, but I dissociated in a major way and don't remember all of it. I had always assumed that this abuse could not have involved actual rape, as my hymen was completely intact until a year ago. But recently I have been reading more and more about the hymen and how it doesn't actually work the way most people think it does, and since my situation is unusual in ways I will shortly explain, I am now wondering if perhaps I may have been raped after all.

I had to have my hymen surgically removed last year, because it was much thicker than it was supposed to be, and would absolutely not break naturally. The hymen itself was normal in terms of structure — the opening was there so I was menstruating with no problems, and for a long time every doctor who had a look at me told me there was nothing wrong with it because it looked fine. But when I saw a specialist they verified that it was incredibly thick and would just refuse to break, so I had it surgically cut out. Before surgery I would examine myself often, and sort of feel around to see what was going on with my hymen. The opening would not stretch past a certain point, but the only reason for that was the level of pain — I have vulvodynia, and when I would try to stretch my hymen it would tug on the walls of my vagina and the pain would be excruciating, so I could never stretch it very far. When I would try to insert larger objects, again I was unable to use much force because of how much it hurt. It is entirely possible that I may have been able to stretch it open farther, or that I may have been able to insert something larger, but I was simply unable to because of the pain.

My question is this — do you think it is possible that I could have been raped? I have read that often the hymen doesn't break at all, it just stretches or tears slightly. Considering that mine was so thick, do you think that it is possible for me to have been penetrated by him, and that my the only reason my hymen stayed intact was because it was so thick? Do you think it could have just stretched? And that maybe because he used so much force he was able to penetrate me in the way that I was unable to do myself? Could a very thick hymen stay intact through that kind of thing?I hope you understand what I'm asking, it's been really difficult to word this in a way that makes sense. It's just that I had previously ruled out rape as a possibility because of the presence of my hymen, but now that I know some women's hymens don't break, and that my hymen is abnormally thick, I can't help but wonder if I might have been raped after all.

It may seem silly to be so hung up on this one detail. The specialist I asked certainly seemed to think so. But to me it is very important to either rule this out or accept it as a possibility. I just need some opinions please.

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25 Responses to Hymen not breaking during loss of virginity — possible?

  1. Etafornia says:

    as someone who lived through this sort of thing myself, you have my sympathy. *hugs if wanted*

    yes, in some cases the hymen is just sort of still there (or bits of it) because its thin enough to stretch and not break per se. or its broken in a childhood accident (such as falling on the bar of a bicycle) or its simply not *there* as much as to cause a barrier to either tampon usage or sexual intercourse when the time comes. (hymens come in all sorts of shapes, as you now know.) for what its worth, even after having one child vaginally and having an episitomy, i have a tiny bridge of skin at the 6 o’clock region (if looking at the vaginal opening straight on, and visualizing a clock face) of my vaginal opening, that stretches from between the 5-6 and 6-7 areas of a clock face. its not *huge*. its just *there*.

    in your case, because the genitals are not fully grown at age 9, and your hymen *was* particularly thick and inflexible, its very unlikely that your vagina would have been able to be breached by a penis. right now, i think your peace of mind may be helped by some conversations with a counselor, so that you can come to grips with what happened to you while you were young. (on the flipside, i was raped when i was 8-ish and since the perpetrator was also young, i didnt have any specific pain…even though i DID find sex with my ex husband quite uncomfortable even *after* i’d had a vaginal childbirth. and i loved my ex dearly, for what its worth.)

    i wish you well in getting past this, and i really think speaking to a person who specializes in past abuse may be able to ease your mind more. and even if you *were* raped, it does not make your value as a human being any less. you’re still the person you were before it happened, just older.

  2. Siaora says:

    Thank you so much. I forgot to mention that my mother found blood in my underwear around the time I was being abused, which also made me wonder whether or not rape had been a part of it. I was definitely penetrated, I know that for sure, I just don’t know if it was with his fingers or his penis. I guess I was just curious as to whether or not it was physically possbile that I could have been raped, as up until recently I had a very rigid and narrow idea of what the hymen was/how it worked.

  3. Etafornia says:

    hmm. since you do have vulvodynia (i think i spelled that wrong!) its possible that you’re having a psychological response to remembered pain (the brain can be a very weird place). again, with you having no clear memories, its going to be fairly impossible to be certain.

    but you can clearly say “i was assaulted” and even “i’m not going to let some other person’s actions define the rest of my life”. speaking with a professional helped me let go of some of the mess i hauled around for years, and understand the rest of it. i wont ever be the person i could have been had i not lived through certain experiences, you cannot unbreak a dish once you break it. but i can be the most whole *me* i possibly can. and i’m fine with that.

  4. Siaora says:

    Thank you again. You spelled it right! And you’re correct, I saw a specialist about my vulvodynia, and she told me that although there are many different causes depending on the individual, she is absolutely certain that mine is a consequence of my abuse, as my pain is not caused by anything other than penetration. She explained it like this — the nerve centre in my brain associates that area of my body with intense pain, and can no longer differentiate between neutral feelings and painful feelings. So whenever I am penetrated, it sends pain signals to the nerve endings telling them they’re hurting when really they shouldn’t be.

  5. 99aTuT says:

    The hymen doesn’t always break during sex and I think it only expanded a bit. That specialist wasn’t very polite—are you able to find another specialist?As for being raped, it depends on how you feel. You may consider yourself a virgin on a emotional level but maybe not on a physical level. If you can, a therapist may be able to help you find that answer.

    Hope I helped!*Hugs*

  6. Siaora says:

    Thank you. I am not actually so concerned with whether or not my ‘virginity’ was lost, it’s not an important concept for me. It is just important that I understand all of the possibilities, as so many of my memories are gone. I feel like if I understand as much as I can about the physical possibilities I may be better able to remember.

  7. Dooyle says:

    The hymen is a really bad way to tell “virginity” or not. Some people don’t even have hymens.

    Honestly, I don’t think you’re silly for wondering about this. I’ve had multiple experiences of sexual abuse and spent a good long time in my life trying to figure out whether or not I was a “virgin”. None of this was really talked about amongst my friends, sex ed, or anything that I had access to. For awhile, it mattered a lot to me because I was very stuck on the idea that I was broken or tainted.

    I’ve never looked for my hymen. I assume that I don’t have one. My first actual experiences with penetration didn’t involve blood and I assume now there’d be no way for me to tell if my hymen was broken through my abuse experiences. But honestly now, I don’t consider those non-consensual experiences a “loss of my virginity”. What happened, whether my hymen broke or not, was not my fault and did not ruin me or taint me.

    It’s very hard for any of us to say for sure. Hymens stretch. And the reason why they are bad to tell if you’re a “virgin” or not is because some people have very stretchy hymens that never tear. My mother suffered frequent sexual abuse and was disproved by a doctor who said she had an intact hymen. Hymens are as unique as the people who have them. So it’s hard for any of us to know whether or not it did happen to you or not.

    I would honestly recommend you read something about surviving sexual abuse. I’ve been reading Healing Sex, but a friend of mine recommends The Courage to Heal. Far be it from me to tell another survivor how to process and think about their own sexual abuse; I just think that’s something you have to work through yourself.

    <3

  8. Siaora says:

    Thank you for your advice. As I mentioned in response to the above post, I am not too hung up on the concept of ‘virginity’, I just want to know as much as I can about what happened to me, and since I can’t rely on my memories I am just trying to understand what was physically possible and what wasn’t. I am sorry you have also experienced abuse.

  9. Dooyle says:

    Oh, I didn’t mean to suggest you were hung up on the concept of virginity. I was and the hymen was a big part of it. Unfortunately, it’s not a reliable indicator of anything except the presence of a hymen. It really depends on the individual.

    Thank you for your sympathies.

  10. Siaora says:

    I completely understand why you would be, it seems most survivors are. I am a member of a sexual abuse survivor forum, and it’s a theme I see there often. The idea that something as precious as your virginity could have been stolen from you and that this may have changed you in some way is a difficult thing to overcome.

  11. Ttefornia says:

    Hello! We’re glad you feel comfortable posting here; thanks for trusting us enough to share your story.

    Since VP is a place dedicated to safe space and empowerment, we hope members’ responses will be helpful to you.

    You might also find some of the information we mention in our FAQ helpful. In particular, many members of the community contact_vp

  12. Siaora says:

    Thank you so much!

  13. Ttefornia says:

    You’re very very welcome.

    For what it’s worth, I agree with the commenters above that it seems massively unlikely that he penetrated you with anything other than fingers, going off the information you’ve given us.

    Best of luck with working things out, and an offer of more *hugs* (and Internet tea) if you’d like them.

  14. Siaora says:

    Hugs and tea are always welcome, thank you. 🙂

  15. Ttefornia says:

    Reminder for commenters

    OP, thanks again for trusting us enough to share your story. We hope that the comments you receive will be supportive and healing.

    This is just a quick note to remind readers that VP has some guidelines for responding to posts about sexual abuse or assault.

    VP is fabulous because of its members. We appreciate your sensitivity and understanding when responding here. 🙂

    If you have questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch.

    –alex
    for the VP Team
    contact_vp

  16. Hteall says:

    That’s a difficult question. …I’m going to be a bit clinical and I hope that it’s not triggering! (It’s kind of how I’m coping with thinking about it, myself. Sorry!)

    If you didn’t have scar tissue as the cause of your hymenal thickness, then I would suspect that there probably wasn’t full penetration (assuming “average” girth); if your hymen was that thick, I would not necessarily think it would stretch instead of tearing, especially at age nine; you would have to have been a rather “developed” nine-year-old, I would think, to have had, well, room. I would expect scarring if there had been full penetration with the force that would probably be needed to deal with an extra-thick hymen.

    That’s only my uneducated suspicions, though. I can’t promise 100%. O:(

    Would you be able to ask the surgeon who did the hymenectomy about any scarring, or was that the person who was being jerkazoid about it?

    Do you have a therapist who might be able to help you with this? The answers are probably locked in your subconscious, and your best bet might well be to either be in a situation where it’s safe enough to go trawling down there — or to find some other way to progress in your mental and emotional stability. (Which doesn’t mean it’s “silly” to be focused on that detail! It’s just something you’re dealing with.)

    *offers lots of hugs, if they’d help*

  17. Siaora says:

    Thank you so much. I was actually wondering if the hymen itself could be a type of scarring. I was wondering if perhaps it might have torn from the force and because of the damage it may have sort of ‘healed’ itself or reformed in an excessive way which was what lead to the thickness. Do you think that is possible? I do have the type of body that scars very easily, and the way in which my body scars is generally by building excess tissue. For example, I have a large scar on my next that is raised above skin-level because it healed excessively. I thought that maybe penetration could have been the cause of my thick hymen. Especially since reading more about what the hymen truly is. I read an article recently that claimed the hymen can actually ‘heal’ itself and reconnect if there is enough of it left and there are many bodily changes happening.

    My gyn was the one who performed the sugery, and thankfully she is not the one who was mean to me. I just haven’t asked her anything about this because it’s so difficult for me to talk to anyone about this kind of thing in person. I have so far only been able to talk about this with people online. The specialist was someone I consulted through email.

    Anyway, thanks again for your help.

  18. Siaora says:

    Also forgot to mention — I am seeing a counsellor at my local rape crisis centre, but I am unsure about how much I should really share with her given that she is not actually a trained therapist. I don’t know how much she is equipped to deal with and I don’t know whether or not it would be okay to discuss things like this with her.

  19. OtiGirl says:

    Since it is a sensitive subject, would you be able to email or write a letter to the doctor that performed the surgery? It sounds like she was nice and would understand why you were uncomfortable talking about it face to face. Gynocologists have seen pretty much everything in terms of vulva, and they work with many people who have been abused.

    If face to face is bad, but you’re comfortable with your doctor knowing about your suspicions (or at least enough to know you wonder about possible scarring), it might be worth a try. Don’t do it if you’re not comfortable, though, as that could make things worse emotionally.

    *hug* I’m so sorry you went through that. I hope that you find the answers you’re looking for.

  20. Hteall says:

    I have definitely heard that hymens (especially thicker ones) might try to scab over and go back together. It’s not impossible. It might be a reason for the thickness. (Then again, it might not, or might not be an entire reason — scarring would be only where the damage was actually done, and not the entire hymenal tissue, if you see the distinction.)

    I agree with sabishii_kirito, that writing a letter to your gynecologist might be a good idea if you can handle her knowing. (You could also write that you were really uncomfortable with discussing the matter face-to-face and ask her to please respect that and go in email/letters only, or as much as possible — if that’s the case!)

    If you’re seeing a counsellor… Do you feel that the counsellor is someone you can talk to? Do you feel that your need to know the possibilities would be respected? Do you feel the counsellor would be able to listen to you respectfully and compassionately? If so… I’d say, go ahead and ask if the counsellor would be comfortable with more details, and ask if there is any issue that she knows about which would make it a bad idea for you to talk about those details with her.

    A good counsellor wants to help, and will hopefully know the extent of her training. And even if all she can do is listen respectfully, compassionately, and without imposing her own view of things on you… And help you come back to the Now, where you’re an adult and not in that situation anymore! Those two things can be amazingly helpful.

    *crosses fingers that you have an excellent counselor*

  21. 7y007 says:

    looks like you have some excellent replies here 🙂
    as a survivor of abuse who has been through the system, I am upset to hear that a so-called ‘specialist’ treated you that way. obviously it’s not the most important thing here, it might even seem trivial, but if there’s any way you can report this negativity to her superiors or file a complaint then I really hope you do so.
    May you continue to heal xxx

  22. Siaora says:

    Thank you! Yes I was appalled when she said that. But with all of my pelvic issues I have had to see a large amount of doctors, and it is surprising how many of them are insensitive and cruel. I have given up trying to do anything about it, there are too many of them to complain about. Just have to let it go and move on to a better doctor.

  23. Sw0Na says:

    I don’t know if this will help you much, but when I was nine, I was raped. My hymen never broke and actually, didn’t break until I was 21. My doctor said that my hymen might have actually tried healing itself which is why it was thicker and why it took so long to break. *hugs* I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience with a medical professional. I hope you are able to look for a new one…

  24. Siaora says:

    omg, thank you so much, this is EXACTLY what I think happened. I am so sorry that you went through this too, but really I can’t thank you enough for helping me with this, that’s exactly the kind of information I was looking for. It’s so validating to hear someone else confirm what I suspected. *hugs*

  25. Sw0Na says:

    You are welcome, I hope you can find some peace with what happened to you in your past hun. *hugs*

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