It is understandable that unwanted or negative sexual experiences might lead you to question your thoughts and feelings about sex and sexuality. There are also myths and misconceptions in society which may not be helping you. For example:
If you are gay you might worry that people who are homophobic will think you deserved it, or that it caused you to ‘become’ gay, or believe that gay sexuality is always abusive.
If you are straight you might worry that people will think you are gay and discriminate against you in the same ways. You may worry that you may ‘become’ gay because of what happened.
If you are bi or pan sexual you may have concerns that people will view your sexual identity in relation to your experiences.
You may be confused about your sexuality and how you want to self identify, and you may wonder if this could be as a result of your experiences.
You might worry that people will not take you seriously, and think that you should be OK about it.
This is just one of many myths and stereotypes which might be making your life more difficult. It comes from the false image of masculinity in western culture which implies that any sexual experience with girls and women is a good thing and is evidence that someone is a ‘real man’.
In reality, coerced or otherwise abusive sexual experiences are never positive. At that moment, whoever it was – a partner, sister, friend, stranger, mother, colleague, was in a position of power, and they used that power to their own ends.
This power is not always physical but can include things like being admired, needed, or in control in other ways.
If you are gay and experienced sexual arousal when abused by a female you may wonder whether it means you are actually straight, or wonder what it means that a female targeted you.
This confusion comes from focusing on the sexual aspect rather than the abusive one. You were exploited by a more powerful, trusted or admired person and that does not change who you are, or who you are attracted to.
You may also fear that you won’t be believed because of myths about women not being perpetrators. This is a common reason for men to feel unable to share what has happened to them. It may help you to read the facts about perpetrators.
Homophobia and confusion regarding sexuality can cause extra distress and stop men speaking about what has happened to them.
This might lead you to feeling unable to share your thoughts and feelings about your sexuality if it feels entwined with your experiences.
Sexual rape, abuse or assault are abusive acts of power, not a question of sexuality. Sexual abuse is not caused by the sexuality or any other characteristic of the person being abused – just as being the victim of robbery is not caused by someone’s own ‘psychological issues with money’.
Like any other crime, sexual crimes are caused by the decisions and actions of the person committing the crime.
You might find it useful to talk with a counsellor to help you disentangle some of these issues and to help you to identify how you most like to express affection and your sexual energy in enjoyable ways in the present.
If you find it hard to enjoy sex and intimacy then you are not alone. Many men say that they find it hard to relax and trust an intimate partner, particularly if the perpetrator(s) of their experiences were known to them.
It’s important to remember that how you are feeling is not ‘wrong’. It’s a natural response to your experience(s). You are the only one who can decide what you are comfortable with.
If it is important to you, you can take steps to regain the pleasure which comes from sex with someone you trust. Often it starts with working on trust and non sexual intimacy.