Frequently Asked Questions

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Relationships

Q I experienced a sexual encounter when I was almost 10 by someone I thought of as my friend, even though he was four years older than me. For a long time I felt guilty. I am now 17 and have broken up with my boyfriend because I found myself repulsed by, and somewhat untrusting of, his desire for physical closeness. Does this mean I am gay?

 A No. If you were gay, you would be feeling same-sex attractions rather than no desire or revulsion at the thought of closeness. What you are experiencing is a normal reaction to a sexual abuse encounter. You knew what was happening was not right, but you were too young to understand the implications of the experience. And because of your young age, you took on the guilt that should have been felt by the boy who abused you.

At 17, a developmental stage where teens learn about independence and identity, both the sexual betrayal and your resultant feelings of guilt predispose you to mistrusting your own sexual feelings. It is easier to suppress those feelings and replace them with feelings of repulsion toward physical attraction than it is to manage the confusion of your childhood experience.

Counseling is recommended, as it would help you sort out the sexual confusion you are left with.  You would learn that the abuse was not your fault, that you have a right to be angry about it, but also about the importance of forgiving the person who harmed you. 

In the meantime, don’t be in a hurry to enter into another romantic relationship. Counseling, time, and maturity have a way of healing many psychological wounds. As your self-identity develops, bad experiences of the past do resolve themselves, creating room for new positive experiences of both friendship and possible romance.

Judy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.

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Comments

I think this is why it is so desperately important to teach youth about things like romantic and sexual identities. OP, what you may be experiencing is something called 'Asexuality'. No, it doesn't mean 'asexual reproduction' that some plants may preform, because in terms of human sexuality, it means having little to no sexual attraction, whatsoever! And that's perfectly okay! Whether it's a result from an encounter that left you sex-repulsed, or just a general 'meh' feeling for sex, it's okay.

Asexuality is not the same as abstinence. Abstinence is the concious choice to not engage in sexual activity, while asexuality is the mental feeling of not wanting or feeling the need to engage in it. And it's normal. It's natural. Many people go through life without even realizing that they're asexual! And I really do believe that needs to change, that things like this need to be known, because it makes so many people feel confused about who they are, or that they're broken when they're not.

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