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Archive for January 15th, 2008

Man facing ocean (c) Lynda Bernhardt

In my last few posts, I have been discussing healing from degrading abuses that generate an enormous amount of shame. One such type of abuse is sexual abuse by an abuser of the same sex. While child abuse is about power and dominating a child, there is something more sinister about experiencing abuse by a member of the same sex.

Sexual abuse by a person of the same sex can cause a person to question his or her sexual identity. This is particular difficult when the child’s body responded to the sexual stimulation involved in the abuse. The person might believe that because the body responded with pleasurable sensations, he or she must have liked it. This is not the case. If anything, having your body respond to sexual stimulation during sexual abuse only makes the abuse that much worse because it feels as if your own body is betraying you.

The human body is wired to respond favorably to sexual stimulation. Whether a woman or a man stimulated your body, your body only responded as it was designed to respond. Just because your body responded to the sexual stimulation from the abuse does not mean that you wanted it or that it was okay. Your body’s response is not “worse” because your abuser happened to be a member of the same sex. Your body’s response had nothing to do with sexual desire. A child’s sexual responses should never have been awakened by a man or a woman.

People who have been sexually abused by a member of the same sex often struggle with additional shame. They fear how others will receive this information. They worry that people will assume that they must have homosexual tendencies because of the abuse. Your sexual orientation is separate from the abuse, and you are not destined to be either heterosexual or homosexual based upon the gender of your abuser.

Many women struggle with abuse by women because they fear that they will not be believed. Society has reluctantly accepted that some men sexually abuse children, but female abusers get very little press. Unfortunately, women abuse children, too. See my series on mother-daughter sexual abuse for more on that topic.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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