Dear Dr. Joe,

I am a survivor of csa from ages 8 to 12. Today I am a healthy 48 male with a good job and am a competitive masters swimmer. At about age 12, I vowed to myself that no one will ever know that I have (had) a sex life.

I grew up to be an atractive young man with a good body (swimmer all my life), but never had a girlfriend. I was never even sexually atracted to a girl. The years went by and I decided that I must be gay.

At 42, I met a man who wanted to perform oral sex on me. After a couple of drinks, I allowed him. The experience wasn't great for me, although I did climax. I was very relieved that he didn't ask me to touch him or even see him naked.

After that I stopped trying to be gay.

I met girl and we started dating, but I have never been intimate with her or even kissed her. I have no urge to be close to her or hold her in my arms. I also hate to be hugged.

I do have a strong sex drive and masturbate regulary.

Is that the reason why I am clueless when it comes to sex with another person? I have never told anyone about the csa, because my older brother was one of my abusers. I am going through a very bad time in my life and at times I am extremely stressed.

I had a heart attack 2 years ago, but got 2 stents and recovered well.

Will I ever be able to be a man and not a little boy with no sex life (besides masturbating)?

My answer is absolutely yes to your being able to "be a man and not be a little boy with no sex life."

However, the path to doing this is to deal directly with the sexual abuse by telling someone such as a therapist, clergy person or someone who has training to help you.

The fact that you have a strong sex drive and that you masturbate regularly indicates you are not asexual. You have strong avoidance issues around having sex but you are not asexual.

Childhood sexual abuse contaminates sexuality. It confuses those regarding sexual orientation and often contributes to avoiding healthy sex and sexuality with another person. This is what sounds like happened to you.

The vow you made to yourself at 12 comes directly from the sexual abuse. You need ongoing intensive therapy to help you resolve the trauma and go with your sexual life.

Look at how successful you have become in your job and as a swimmer. Take that energy and direct it toward becoming a man with sexual health. I honestly have no doubt you can do it. I am a therapist and have seen men transform their lives and leave the sexual abuse behind them! You can do it.

Start by reading a book on childhood sexual abuse to show yourself the path ahead of you and that is not as scary as you might be imagining. Glad you are here on this site.

Featured Ph.D. Columnist