Former Australian surfing star Carmen Greentree has opened up on the traumatic impact of being sexually abused while she was held captive for months overseas.
The waverider from the NSW south coast, who had ambitions of dominating surf competitions around the globe, travelled to India as a 22-year-old in 2004 after missing out on a spot on the world tour. But her trip took a horrifying turn when she accepted help from a local in finding her way to Kashmir, in the country’s north.
Greentree was taken to a houseboat which became her prison cell for the next two months as her captor sexually abused her repeatedly.
“I lost track of how many times he raped me. I’ve blocked it out so much I don’t remember most of (the assaults) anymore,” she told the Daily Mail last year.
“I was completely broken, I wasn’t even me anymore. I was existing as a shell.”
Police were able to rescue Greentree but the man who abused her was never charged because Greentree didn’t return to India to testify.
Speaking on SBS program Insight this week, Greentree elaborated on the horrifying consequences her ordeal had on her sexuality, as the lingering trauma saw her “become celibate”.
She said she was “all of a sudden afraid of sex” and became “fearful that I would never want to have it again”.
“At that point, I was celibate for a while. I’ve had a few periods of celibacy but that was the start, the first time I’d considered being celibate because of that experience,” Greentree said.
After getting married at 32, Greentree tried to carry on with what she perceived as a normal sex life but it wasn’t that simple.
“At that point I’d actually lost myself a lot and I’d stopped listening to my body,” Greentree said. “I’d stopped listening to my soul, I’d stopped listening to my heart.
“I didn’t know it consciously at the time but I was very much more focused on living up to society’s expectations of what a woman should be like, men’s expectations of what a woman should be like, especially in marriage.
“I was very much telling myself on the surface I was having a really great time and that I was amazing and this was amazing and trying all these different things. And deep, deep, deep down I was like, ‘I don’t like this. I don’t want to be doing this. This is not right for me’. That voice got a little bit louder over time.”
Greentree was celibate for the last three years of her marriage before separating from her husband and while it wasn’t a conscious decision at first, she said “my sexuality completely shut down”.
“One particular day my soul screamed out so loud. It said, ‘I will literally die if I have sex one more time like this’,” she said.
“My entire system shut down and then I came across the term celibacy again and at that point I realised that had naturally just happened. My sexuality shut down. I had just become celibate and it was in alignment with my soul and so I was happy to say it quite quickly that yes, I’m celibate for now.”
While it happened by accident rather than design to begin with, Greentree said going without sex became a hugely positive experience
“The most beautiful thing about it was that I felt as though I was mine again and my energy was mine. My soul felt happy and finding my way back home to me,” she said.
“What was quite magical for me was all of that energy, I was able to harness. It was a very divine, purifying, cleansing, soulful experience.”