Sexual assault completely alters the way you view the world, intimate relationships, and most obviously—sex. Choosing to have sex again after you're assaulted is a process that may take time. Don't compare yourself to others or blame yourself for wanting to take your time. When you are finally ready to resume your sex life after an assault, here are some ways to help you feel comfortable again.

1. Try masturbating.

Masturbating is still a relatively taboo topic, especially for women. However, a good way to gauge if you're ready for sex is by masturbating. You need to feel safe stimulating yourself before anyone else does. This may be a progression, your first time you might not reach orgasm but be patient with yourself as you begin to explore your sexual side again.

2. Do it with someone you trust.

You don't need to have sex with the love of your life or someone you have been in a committed relationship with—they don't even need to know about your assault. But do it with someone who you know will respect your boundaries and who knows your boundaries from the get-go.

3. Explain your boundaries to your partner.

Sometimes people forget to do this (even if they haven't experienced a sexual assault), but this is important to do. It is always better to have everything out in the open beforehand rather than trying to explain it in the heat of the moment.

4. Have a back-up plan if things go bad (you realize you aren’t ready).

You might think you're ready but then it starts, and you realize you're not. It is always a good idea to have a friend or family member on standby to help you through the situation if you realize you aren't ready.

5. There’s no rush.

Everyone's journey post sexual assault is different. Some people may feel the need to wait a year to have sex others may be okay after a few months. But what's most important is that you are patient with yourself. What you've experienced is traumatic, don't rush it.

6. Some anxiety is going to be normal … but not too much.

The last time you had sex you were violated and that will question your ability to trust people. When you're preparing to have sex again some anxiety is normal. Your heart rate might increase, you might start sweating a little bit. All of this is normal. However, if you feel like you're about to have a panic attack you probably aren't ready... and that's perfectly okay.

7. Have fun with it.

Sex is supposed to be a fun and pleasurable experience—even after a sexual assault. Your sexual assault doesn't have to ruin your sex life forever. Take some time to consider what your boundaries are and communicate them to your partner. Your boundaries may have changed since your sexual assault. It is also important to communicate your turn on's/turnoff's—your potential sexual partner doesn't need to know about your assault, but they do need to know what is and isn't acceptable.

8. Make sure you’re sober.

Sex after a sexual assault can come with a lot of emotions and hesitations. It may seem like a good idea to have a glass of wine or to hit a bowl to help ease your anxiety, but it's not. If you need to take use substances to have sex you're probably not ready (and that's perfectly okay).

9. Choose the location.

Your safety and mental state is of the upmost importance when you decide to have sex after a sexual assault. Choose a place where you are most comfortable and feel safest. If you feel safest having sex when all your roommates are home, then so be it. If you're potential partner isn't down for whatever location you've chosen, then they aren't the one you should have sex with.

10. Be damn proud of yourself.

Sexual assault recovery is a long and painful journey. It involves a lot of tears, sadness, and pain. But you're fierce and strong. And you'll regain your sexual side again just be patient with yourself and don't be afraid to ask for support (whether it be professional or from family and friends).