Sexual Orientation and Sexual Abuse
Are abusers more likely to target them? Or does something about the attack affect them, or how they see themselves?
Most people who are gay or lesbian were not abused, but a higher percentage are than you find in the general population.
They may be more targeted, maybe due to homophobic gay-bashing.
Or, causality could go the other way.
Consider that there is a continuum with some people being very straight, some people very gay, and others standing at points in between.
If a “very straight” woman is molested by a man she might start associating sex with something horrible and to be avoided. Teri Hatcher has said that being molested by an uncle left her disinterested in sex.
But what if a woman has some flexibility? She certainly grew up in a society that idealized, and bombarded her with, straight images: Most of our movies, television, commercials, billboards, books, magazines, etc. are about straight couples. And non-straights can be punished. So although she has some flexibility, she’s more in touch with her straight side, maybe having little or no consciousness of other possibilities. But if she were molested by a man, instead of becoming asexual she does have an option. Sex with a man might seem horrible, but she might become more aware of sexual interest in women, since she has this outlet available?
Turning to men, a man with some flexibility who has been raised in straight society — with his potential for bisexuality ignored and punished — might go his entire life thinking of himself as straight. It works for him just fine. But if he were molested he might start wondering if he is gay, especially if he were aroused. (Molestation can arouse. And consider the highly publicized pretty blonde middle school teachers who have had affairs with 13-year-old boys. This is molestation, but the guys may have found it arousing.)
And, environment — social and biological — appears to affect gene expression. So maybe that could be happening?
Or, maybe abusers are simply more likely to target gay and lesbians due to homophobia.
We don’t really know the direction of causation. But here are some possibilities.
(Last in a 3-part series on sexual orientation.)