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#439741 - 07/02/13 03:07 AM SSA and Sexual Orientation
Dave PNW Offline

Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 129
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Same Sex Attraction and Orientation

I have struggled with this question of orientation for years. Seems ridiculous for a 52 year old man married for 26 years with two grown kids to not be clear on this. However I only really started to confront honestly my early childhood sexualization and abuse ten months ago. Only then did I discover that same sex attraction is common after childhood sexual abuse.
For me same sex attraction didn't start until after my summer of sexual abuse when I was 13. Even during that first summer I didn't really look at other boys with that interest. This would develop more later, especially after the abuse stopped. I was attracted to girls, albeit a little later than for some of my friends. My CSA had added enough confusion and doubt into my self concept that my confidence in myself was severely shaken. But I can recall how good I felt around girls at that age too, how much I wanted a girlfriend. Sometimes they took my breath away. But I always felt damaged and less than other boys. Why would any girl ever want to be with me? I even wondered sometimes if I could even function properly when the time came. My CSA delayed my sexual development by years.

Eventually when I started to have long term relationships with women in my early twenties it felt good and right. There was a quality of peace in my relationships with women. The sex was fantastic, but it was more than that, it was a feeling of wholeness and a sense that they somehow helped to complete me. These relationships healed me, made me better as a man and as a human being. As I have struggled with this question over the years, I come back over and over to remembering this deep and true sense at my core. I have been happy and fulfilled with the women in my life over the last 32 years. I love my wife. I guess that this is probably as clear as it ever gets.
As CSA survivors we lose trust, I mostly lost trust in myself. Lost the ability to truly trust the bearing of my internal compass. I have been fortunate, I know. But I still doubt.
But I have to admit that I do still have some feelings of same sex attraction. I honestly find some men beautiful. I find gay pornography arousing. I can imagine that given the right or wrong circumstances I could function adequately with another guy as a partner. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had taken this route in the early 80's in college. I think it is plausible I could have pursued this path. Would I be happy and fulfilled just as well? More so? I know this knowledge would have come at a high cost. I certainly would have been disowned by my family, but we aren't that close anyway. The AIDs epidemic in the early 80's could easily have taken me. But I ended up being sort of sexually sedated for that part of my life.... a brush with religion, wilderness and preferring social the end kept me from going down that path..

So I want to ask..... How do you really know what is SSA and what is true orientation? I know you can't answer for me. But how did you know? I guess I ask this, with just a touch of uncertainty still. The old wounds still making me unsure of my legs and my compass still sometimes gives a bearing I am not sure I can trust. Just wanted to ask. I am so glad I have a place where I can put this out there. Thank you friends.

#439782 - 07/02/13 01:51 PM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
SoccerStar Offline

Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 929
This is a horribly painful question that strikes right to the core of one's identity. Unless the survivor had previously had a well-defined and basically exclusive sexual preference, there's no way to know if this is how they were always going to turn out or if it was a result of the abuse causing the mind to fixate on imagery of sex with men. Doesn't help that same-sex fantasies are very common in general and that sexuality can be somewhat fluid over time.

I'm afraid there is no concrete answer... The issue then is whether you try to reject these feelings or accept them as part of yourself and your fantasy life - and if you ever act upon them (which as a married man, you really shouldn't.)

My own sexual interests developed pretty evenly "both ways" at 13 - I was horrified because the notion that I could ever be attracted to guys far outweighed the fact that I was attracted to girls too. It took me 10 years to accept myself as a bisexual man, to abandon shame and actually enjoy my feelings... and then I came here and learned about SSA. The notion that I might not have actually been bi at all, that I might have been a straight guy damaged and redirected by sexual assault, was nothing short of devastating. To accept your identity only to find that it might not be yours at all.

How do you know what's a true orientation? Well, I'm going to indulge in some stereotyping here, mostly repeated from Dan Savage columns. I apologize if this offends anyone and will edit it out if requested....

If you enjoy performing oral sex on women, you're almost certainly not "completely" gay. And when you think about being intimate with men, if you focus chiefly on just their genitals and specific sex acts (what many porn sites call "cock-curious") this is more likely to represent SSA than if you want to be emotionally involved with a man, could see yourself passionately kissing one or falling in true love - the latter is more orientational.

That's the shorthand I'd use, anyway.
My story

"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of Heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny

#439809 - 07/02/13 07:23 PM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
bodyguard8367 Offline

Registered: 05/16/12
Posts: 1159
Loc: ""

Same Sex Attraction is different from Sexual Orientation. Orientation is a state of being, a point of reference, a certain perspective. Same Sex Attraction is desire pure and simple. If you look at a heterosexual male with CSA and resultant Same Sex Attraction, and compare him to a homosexual male with CSA the development of Same Sex Attraction is not the same.

A Homosexual male grows up with same sex attraction, only he is unaware of it at first. Small clues remind him that others don't feel the way he does and that he has to be careful not to let the others know lest they discover how different he is. A homosexual male wouldn't ever say that the sex with women was "fantastic". It wasn' was what I had to endure so that I could pretend that I was "normal" and "like everyone else". But in order to have an orgasm I closed my eyes and pretended I was giving oral sex to another male.

Same Sex Attraction is like watching porn.

Homosexuality is a little like falling in love.

I hope some of this has clarified some things, hope you are happy in your marriage. It would be a shame to leave it without a very good reason.

#439822 - 07/02/13 09:03 PM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
David Mac Offline

Registered: 04/30/13
Posts: 57
Loc: Pacific North West
Hey dw,
Thank you for that very fine post. I too have oftened wondered about the relationship between csa and homosexual orientation. Before my father incested me and sold me to child porn, I was just like all the other kids on the block. After the abuse the bed wetting began and free-floating anxiety towards males, especially older boys. I also severed myself completely from any affection I had towards my mother. The women in the porn ring did me the most damage emotionally.

I had a recurring dream during the period of abuse. I dreampt that something like wagontrains were moving in a clockwise circle. Then suddenly they stopped. I was struck by the feeling of unnaturalness and the wagons began moving in a counter-clockwise motion.

Anxiety and fear was my daily food after csa. When my sexual orientation manifested itself in ssa, my anxieties skyrocketed. The only release I had from my painful state of anxiety, isolation and lonliness was masterbation. From masterbation pornography was added by my father whose home was like a porn shop and this was in the late 60's! Over the years cruising was added to the mix and I found the perfect drug of choice - lust.

Now in my 50's, I joined sexaholics anonymous. My sexual sobriety has many benefits. One in particular I would like to share.

When I first realized the program worked, I was elated. I had a dream that I flew over a river and into my recovery room. I was flying around the ceiling shouting, "It works if you work it!" ( a 12 step motto) The next night I had a similar dream. I flew accross the same river and into the recovery foom. This time there was a young Italian woman standing there by herself. Flying overhead, I looked down at her and thought to myself, "She's beautiful." I flew down and though still in the air, I took her right hand in mine. We kissed. In that kiss I felt the God given natural passion of a female for a male. It was very gentle, clean and good.

That dream got me thinking. So I am glad that you are thinking about it too. I wonder if there is any research in the area between homosexuality and csa. In my recovery rooms other men who are survivors of csa seem to point to it as well.

Thank you again for your thought provoking post. I looke forward to reading more of your reflections.


#439850 - 07/03/13 02:37 AM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
Rustam Offline

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 474
Loc: UK
I think as others have said here that SSA is about acting out what happened in the abuse, it tends to be compulsive and focused on sex acts or body parts as opposed to the possibility of having a loving relationship with someone of the same sex, gay men can of course act out in the same way and not achieve loving relationships. The whole thing is further complicated by bisexuality.

For myself I feel that I am mostly gay about 70% gay and 30% straight, I had relationships with women after I came out as gay and the problems in those relationships were about abuse not my sexuality. I expect it is an individual thing what sexuality we are born with, how the abuse affected us and what choices we make in societies that were and still can be pretty hostile to same sex relationships. When I first read about SSA I did wonder how gay I was meant to be without abuse and if I could have saved myself all the challenges that come with a gay identity (the abuse started so early that I would have had no idea about being different) but I am pretty settled that abuse did not have any effect on my orientation it just messed up my ability to be sexually intimate. My brothers are not gay and grew up in the same family with the same abusers.

From what you say it sounds like you made good choices, being happy and fulfilled with women for 32 years sounds pretty great. Other choices, other lives who knows!


#440048 - 07/04/13 03:46 PM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
Chase Eric Offline

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 2957
Originally Posted By: dw1972+
How do you really know what is SSA and what is true orientation? I know you can't answer for me. But how did you know? I guess I ask this, with just a touch of uncertainty still. The old wounds still making me unsure of my legs and my compass still sometimes gives a bearing I am not sure I can trust. Just wanted to ask. I am so glad I have a place where I can put this out there. Thank you friends.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

- Socrates

#440256 - 07/07/13 03:57 AM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
Dave PNW Offline

Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 129
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Thanks guys for the thoughtful responses. They really helped me with sorting this. Having a safe place to ask the hard or unclear questions has been really helpful to me. The compassion, understanding, life experience and nonjudgmental support here has made it possible for me to start to sort out so many of my big life issues with honesty and new insight. I have needed this for 30 years. In some ways and on some days I feel like I am just starting to really know myself. And that's really good, about time.

Soccer Star - Matt I value your insights on these issues and read your posts and responses knowing I am going to learn something new or gain a fresh perspective. Thank you for sharing. I am new on this path, I struggle with just coming up with the words and phrases and questions for things that two months ago were unspeakable.

Bodyguard - Geoff. Thank you for being so direct. I can take pages to get to a point. You have this zen like precision that cuts to the core. Your strength, self awareness and depth of life experience makes me feel like I have the emotional IQ of an 8th grader. I am a little embarrassed to have confused my SSA with true orientation, feel kind of shallow. Explaining true orientation is like falling in love and SSA is like watching porn hit me upside the head. Like one of those zen stories where the master gives you a good whack on the head. Realization. Thanks.

David Mac- really helpful to hear how similar our experiences with SSA were. This is all so much more complicated than I ever understood before. Your dream reminded me how from time to time since I have started working on my recovery how I sometimes have tapped into that original feeling of simple innocent desire I knew before my CSA. Like seeing my original face. Thanks for reminding me.

Rustam- thank you for helping me clarify more of this. It's taken me a long time to ask these questions. Thanks for helping me confirm what I must have know deep down all along.

Chase Eric- thanks for the support and being a witness as I work with this. Thanks for the support you gave me the morning I posted after that cold and rainy solo swim a month ago. Made me feel like I had someone out there to tell what was going on in my life who would get it. Enjoy the surf down there. I am learning up here in the cold waters in Oregon. Good medicine.

#440345 - 07/08/13 07:08 AM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: Dave PNW]
1lifenow Offline

Registered: 03/07/11
Posts: 437
Loc: west coast

I understand your confusion, I was married for 25 years. I also have 2 grown kids. I understand completely how there is a bond with the person you fell in love with, yet somehow you know you don't feel entirely present.

An internal sexual arousal or attraction to someone, male or female is your orientation and is something that is not really changeable at this stage of the game. It is likely the distillation of biology, hormonal factors, possibly experiences and imprinting and who knows. But it is where we are. Its kind of pointless to ask why, though it would be nice to know sometimes, just to make it more understandable.

Sexual behavior is a choice and you can act on it or not. But the attraction will be there whether we do something or never.

Same sex attraction is not a great term because it explains nothing. Men who are not oriented in a gay or bi way will not generally experience pleasure from thoughts of being with another man, and will likely not act on those thoughts because their orientation is more geared towards being with a woman. Perhaps in an all male setting like jail or the Vatican they could participate in sex with other men, but once out or defrocked they would naturally gravitate back to being with a woman. So sexual behavior with another man, does not mean a person is gay or even bi.

I have trouble with the concept of re-enacting the abuse except now being in control. I think a more likely explanation is that these so called "acting out" experiences with other men are clandestine, usually fraught with unsafe, unhealthy sexual practices because this is a compulsive faulty coping mechanism.

You are wise to ask the questions, the answers are sometimes not what we want to hear. Its all a part of the process of learning about our individual sexuality that without question was muddied, delayed or hidden by our CSA. Its there, just tougher to find, understand and often accept.

Best wishes bro.

Edited by 1lifenow (07/08/13 07:09 AM)
The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. Dalai Lama

WoR Barrie 2011

#440707 - 07/12/13 12:33 PM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: bodyguard8367]
lapchinj Offline

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 1485
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: bodyguard8367 was what I had to endure so that I could pretend that I was "normal" and "like everyone else". But in order to have an orgasm I closed my eyes and pretended I was giving oral sex to another male....
Hey Geoff

That's the first time I've heart that here. I might have mentioned that in PM or to my T but I'm glad you said it. I've been married for 35 years, I'm not going to go into how I got here but yes all the years I was with my wife (1/2 per month, maybe) I had a third person in my bed. It was usually my boyhood "boyfriends" either thinking about us together as kids or trying to imagine what it would be like while we're grown up. I must say though that my wife was the first real girl I was ever with (I married her 5 weeks after meeting her) that wasn't a paying customer and it took a few years till I could take my underwear off in bed crazy.

But let me ask this DW, does it make any difference to you if your gay or not. I took a lot of crap in the '60s for being a faggot and was bullied in school every day and I didn't ever realize back then that I was a faggot. I thought that when the time comes I would also be interested in girls. For so many years I thought that I was straight just because I married a woman. I never gave that much thought till I came here to MS though.

Like soccerstar mentioned if your married to either species then you shouldn't be going out with someone else anyway. I look at it as partnership for life and I never hated women like some guys do but was just never interested in them. I love my wife but there is nothing romantic or sexual about it and that's fine she raised 6 beautiful and unabused children while I couldn't go near them because I was fucken scared of them, still am. The only real romantic and sexual love I had was with my 2 boyfriends and sfather (my surrogate father).

And as Geoff mentioned why even question your relationship with your wife even if you feel your gay. I used to go around looking at men all the time and not at the women unless they looked like men. I thought I was weird and fucked up in the head (which I am) but my wife is a great partner and I wouldn't leave her no matter what type of faggot I am.

Good luck and thanks for bringing up the question.

Peace, Rainbows, Love & Healing
Stick around, It will get better....🌹🌹🌹

#441542 - 07/21/13 02:58 AM Re: SSA and Sexual Orientation [Re: lapchinj]
Dave PNW Offline

Registered: 04/03/13
Posts: 129
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Thanks Lapchinj. You are so right. Took me a while to respond, but I have been thinking a lot about this. I am so fortunate to have married my wife. She has been a wonderful partner and I don't want to mess this up. This has a lot to do with why I started to confront my past and eventually came to MS in the first place. Thanks for being so brutally clear. I am not going to let these issues from my childhood come forward and mess with all the good I have in my life. Thanks for reminding me of that. Dave.

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