Childhood abuse confused sexual identity


Childhood abuse confused sexual identity


your avatar   Riley, 30-year-old man

I was violated as a four-year-old boy. I quickly assumed this behavior to be something positive and pleasurable, and have continued to violate my own body with different objects (but never with another person) my entire life to date. Growing up, this was very difficult to deal with, since I thought I was singled out for this abuse because there was something wrong with me. I eventually came to use this self abuse as a person who is bulimic--if I felt inadequate, I would find some object with which I would abuse my self, and I would tell myself how terrible a person I was. It was seldom pleasurable, and I used it to prove that I didn't deserve success, and focused on self-pity instead of self-determination.

Eventually, I found out what kind of men have a tendency to be "invaginated" in this way--gay men. But I never believed I was gay, since I'd always liked girls. But I couldn't live down the fact that I have been playing out what seems to be a homophile fetish, and I couldn't imagine any straight guy doing that. Moreover, I began accepting more and more of this gay propaganda in my life, as my self-esteem continued to plummet.

Although I've never had a gay experience with anybody, I began to 'vision' myself in this context, beneath my tough-as-leather exterior. Now, I have been married for four years to a wonderful woman whom I love. I feel that this 'gay identity' I feel is a construct of my mind which I have given evidence each time I have abused myself or viewed pornographic material, and is affecting my intimacy with my wife. My goal is to work through these feelings with a therapist (possibly Christian) who understands that I'm willing to regain the manliness I once felt. I hope to forgive myself for the actions I've taken that have confused my sexual identity. I want to be a successful family man without fearing that any day, I might act out some gay act and further puncture my integrity as a man and ruin my marriage.

Can you help me?


    Silicon Valley Relationship and Sexuality Center,

Dear Riley,

It is quite common for people who were sexually abused to "self-inflict" the same kind of behavior that was forced on them. Because you refer to violating your body with different objects and to being "invaginated" I infer that your abuse involved the insertion of objects anally. Many four year olds would experience simultaneous pleasure and confusion if something were gently inserted into the rectum. The anus is richly enervated and is a source of pleasure to many adults. Many people who had enemas administered to them as children incorporate enema play in their sexuality as adults. It is not the insertion of something into the rectum that is abusing! It is abuse when there is the simultaneous awareness on the part of the child that something else, such as sexual excitement by the administrator, is also going on. To the child, however, the sense of "uh oh" - that something is terribly wrong or naughty that accompanies the pleasure -- is ultimately confusing and overwhelming to the immature coping mechanisms.

To re-enact the experience under your control is a form of both regaining your boundary and identification with the aggressor.

Gays do not wish to be "invaginated" in the sense of emulating vaginal intercourse. To the contrary, the vast majority are quite masculine and almost all really enjoy sexual pleasure. Only about 40% of gays engage in anal intercourse, either as inserter or recipient, on a regular basis.

While I appreciate your desire for a Christian therapist I strongly urge you to select on the basis of advanced specialty training in childhood sexual abuse, not religious orientation. The sooner you get into competent therapy the sooner your quality of life will improve.

In the final analysis, for better or for worse, you were eroticized by certain childhood experiences. I respectfully suggest that you are probably not a "latent homosexual," but rather someone blissfully unaware of these psychosexual dynamics. I encourage you to embrace as a goal of therapy, a way to accept your sexuality and to incorporate it into flexible sex play with your wife. It sounds to me that your fear of acting out with a man is unfounded.

Many a man who is anally erotic loves (or would love) to have his wife strap on a dildo and massage his prostate through the rectal wall. There is a good reason why there are videotapes titled "Bend Over, Boyfriend." (see the online video catalog of Good Vibrations for this tape.)


This question has been answered by Dr. William Fitzgerald, a.k.a. Sexdoc. He is a bona fide sex therapist. He is one of the sex therapists at the Silicon Valley Relationship and Sexuality Center, in Santa Clara, California. For more of Dr. Fitzgerald’s work, visitors can check out Ask the Sex Doc, his website devoted to answering questions about sex therapy, sexuality, and relationships.For more information visit:


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