Do not use sex to wither stress

Some people take refuge in alcohol, others get addicted to pornography and masturbation and others resort to violence. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • When life gets difficult our emotions become frayed and one is likely to seek refuge in unhealthy liaisons, says Prof Joachim Osur.

There was something unusual when Richard and his wife Lucy walked into the consultation room with a third party, Jessica. Jessica's eyes were red and wet, a sign that she had been crying. "I just wanted you to mediate and ask Lucy and Jessica to forgive me," Richard said as soon as the trio settled on their seats.

"I already forgave you," his wife shot back, "my only condition was that you marry her, let her be your second wife, the poor woman has no place to go."

Incidentally, Jessica, the third party, was pregnant. She was a 37-year-old widow who was working as a house manager for Richard and Lucy. She had started vomiting and Lucy took her to a doctor. The examination and tests showed that she was two months pregnant.

That's when all hell broke loose. Jessica confessed that the pregnancy was courtesy of Richard who had been sneaking into her room at odd hours and forcing her to have sex. This happened from the time the lockdown to control Corona was declared. Richard ignored protests from the house manager who was uncomfortable with the whole thing.

"He is not sexually starved!" Lucy confirmed as their intimacy frequency was even higher than before.

Richard was too ashamed to utter a word. I asked him to say something, anything because we needed to find a solution to this debacle.

"Am sorry, I have been stressed, I do not know what else to say," he blurted out.

Richard lost his only source of income when restrictions were imposed to control COVID-19. He was running a fast-food restaurant in the middle of town. The restaurant closed down. He had 12 employees whom he had to lay off. He had a bank loan which he was servicing; he defaulted from April. He feared that his house, which he had offered as a surety for the loan, could be auctioned. Richard found refuge in having sex to escape from the difficult situation he was facing.

During these stressful times, several people may fall victim to what has been called a sexualized coping behaviour. When life gets difficult one thing that is likely to happen is emotional dysregulation. You may feel emotionally hollow; distressed; hopeless and out of control. You may lack the energy to live your values and easily fall victim to things you have never imagined. Some people take refuge in alcohol, others get addicted to pornography and masturbation and others resort to violence.

In this time of COVID-19, there has been an escalation of rape, incest, and unwanted pregnancies. Many people may have exposed themselves to HIV and acquired the infection.

Unfortunately, stress can never be used as a justification for sexual offenses. Further, infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and other STI's will not spare you because you are stressed.

"I have been telling Richard that the fairest thing to do is for him to marry this poor helpless widow whom he has impregnated," Lucy interjected.

I had a long session of counseling with the trio. It was no longer tenable for Jessica to work in the couple's house. Richard, with his meager resources, promised to pay Jessica a consolidated sum of Sh150,000 to cater for her rent and upkeep for the duration of pregnancy. She was to move out and rent a house for herself. Richard was also to pay hospital bills for delivery as well as additional Sh100,000 to take care of expenses for four months after Jessica delivered. Richard and Lucy were to adopt the baby thereafter. Jessica asked for time to reflect on whether she wanted to take legal action for what happened.

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