CSA # 2 : Gender and Sexual Stereotypes

The second post on this blog series about Childhood Sexual Abuse will address gender and sexual orientation stereotypes.

This information I’m giving is one fraction of what is out there. I am in no way an authority on this, this is just the tip of some possibilities. This content is so complex. These are just SOME of the things that could possibly come up. My intention with these writings is to spark a dialogue and ask “what does this mean for you?” and encourage you to ask those questions of people in your life too. Anytime information is cut down to be more digestible, it is natural that I would lose some of the depth and for that I apologize. I am definitely not an expert in Childhood Sexual Abuse, I am saying “here is one piece, where will you go with this? Let’s get ourselves talking about it.” If you ever have feedback for me, I encourage you to bring it right to me. I would love to hear, write with it in mind, and I thank you for that.

There is a definite trend between girls / women being abused by men. And, there are times when boys experience abuse and women do the abusing. When boys are abused by men or other boys. Women who are lesbians are not gay because of their abuse. It seems like survivors sometimes hear the hurtful statement of “you’re a lesbian because your Dad did this to you.” If a survivor is a lesbian, the healing is to address the destructive effects of being abused, not the fact that they are a lesbian. Though this should be obvious, some survivors still believe there’s something wrong with them that caused them to be a lesbian.

If they’re unsure: if the survivor is unsure about sexual preference, give some time for things to settle. There is often a time of transition where one doesn’t fully know. If the survivor has not been in touch with themselves sexually, it may take time to find out what the true responses are. Tolerating the ambiguity of not knowing will help the process. Sexual preference is a continuum. A small percentage of people are exclusively straight or gay. Most of us are some place on the continuum.

When there’s discomfort about being a sexual being: Some may not be comfortable with being gay because it is a sexual identity and there is not yet comfort with sex. It may feel like it puts more emphasis on the sexual part of you than you want. There is more to being gay than sex. There’s all the aspects of any other kind of relationship (culture, a supportive community, emotional, philosophical, spiritual connection to others, music, art, politics). The context of life can make one uncomfortable as well. Being surrounded by homophobic people who are afraid of gay people will be different than having supportive community members, gay people who are role models for your process, places you can go where it’s safe to be visible. Is it safe to hold hands with a lover? To feel like you’re not the only one? If there’s discomfort, it may be because of not feeling able to be open with people surrounding you. Subscribing to gay magazines and journals, get on a mailing list for gay specific music festivals and conferences can be a way to gain support if it’s not immediately accessible.

Gender Stereotypes
Like I said, it is often an assumed piece that a woman is abused by a man. This is not always the truth. Little girls and little boys can be abused by men or by women. The healing around sexual abuse with men seems to be its own separate niche and has different specific information for male survivors that may be helpful. Mothers and female role models abuse children and often there can be more of an emotional tendency to the abuse (emotional incest of having too much touch, not having boundaries about where and how to touch children’s genitals). Women have been reported for having sex with their teenage male students, molesting their sons and daughters and children in the family. Let us remember that man hating is ultimately not the answer. Attention and commitment and healing is what will help us change this.

What’s Next
My next post will be for partners of people with a childhood sexual abuse history. How to work with partners of people who have this life history, how to help them with their feelings of rejection / anger in relationship to sex, what are some of the possible things that may come up. And if you want to see the first post with the list of topics, click here. Stay tuned, thank you for your presence reading.


About Alicia Patterson

Alicia Patterson is a Psychotherapist / Dance Movement Therapist, Birth Doula, Energy Worker, Dance and Yoga Facilitator in the Boulder / Denver area.
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