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Is my sexuality tied to my past?

Question:

So, I’m confused about my sexuality. This is already a confusing topic but there’s an added layer to my story. When I was younger, my dad physically abused me. So, during high school, I would distance myself from the guys in my life and never wanted to be in an ‘actual’ relationship with them. But even now at 21 when I meet guys I automatically have an irrational, even if not provoked, fear of them. Well, not even fear, it’s more like I want to keep my distance. Anyways, the point is that I’ve also been realizing that I find myself being attracted to women. It’s something that I’ve always wondered about, even back in middle school I just felt more intrigued by girls, I guess. Now that I’m a little older and have been able to understand what happened with my dad in my past a little more, I can’t help but wonder, do I like girls because I’m disinclined to be around guys – because of my past – or does my sexuality have nothing to do with what my dad did to me? Because I’d hate to feel that I only like the person I like, who is a girl (obviously) simply because it’s an extension of what my dad did to me. Does that make sense? Well, I hope you can give me some insight!

Answer:

Hey there,

First of all, it’s absolutely normal to be asking the questions that you’re asking. You’re very brave for facing the things that have happened in your past and for striving to understand how they’ve impacted you and your sexuality. It’s never easy when the people closest to us harm or abuse us.

It appears that you are facing two separate issues: 1) a fear of and resistance to men because of what happened with your father; and 2) an attraction to women and feelings that you might be lesbian or bisexual. In addition, you’re unsure whether your father’s abuse caused you to be attracted to women.

To the first issue, it’s understandable that you would come away from a situation involving physical abuse with some lasting negative effects, including negative feelings towards men in general. This is normal and simply a coping mechanism that your mind has put in place to protect you. Abuse can make people feel hated, worthless, unloved, distrusting of others, afriad and hesitant to engage in new friendships or relationships. What’s important is that you remind yourself that no one is responsible for what happened with your father but your father. It certainly isn’t your fault and just because he hurt you doesn’t mean other men will. It can take a long time to heal but it’s possible to build that trust back.

To the second issue, your feelings towards women are a normal expression of your sexuality and have nothing to do with what has happened in your past. These feelings are a part of who you are — they’re not an extension of what your dad did to you. You should be content with being attracted to women without feeling ashamed or that your feelings are negative in any way.

If you find yourself with questions about being a lesbian, you should check out the following link: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177 This web site provides answers and resources for individuals who identify as lesbian. If you’re interested

In addition, if you feel you need someone to speak with about the abuse in your past, a great resource is the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists: http://www.aglp.org/ A psychiatrist can most adequately discuss the effects of the abuse on your psyche and how to best move forward and face the issues troubling you. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is also a great resource you might explore: http://www.rainn.org/

Finally, if you find yourself feeling scared or needing someone to speak with, we are always reachable at 1-­866‐4­‐U­‐TREVOR. Don’t hesitate to call.

Sincerely,

Trevor Staff