Trigger Warning: This blog deals with childhood sexual abuse.
Some of us, within the LGBTQA+ community, face additional barriers when disclosing our stories of child sexual abuse. The myths and misconceptions about sexuality and child abuse are hurting us and stopping some of us from sharing our experiences.
Years ago, a friend of mine told me: that when I was a child, back home, I was raped by a man. “And I enjoyed it. I am gay. I think it might be because of what happened to me.” I didn’t know what to say. But it didn’t seem right that his sexuality was the effect of abuse by an older man.
More recently, another friend of mine confided in me her family declared she was a Lesbian because of what her Dad did to her. Her sexuality was bringing more shame to her religious mother and sister than the fact that their husband/ father raped her and got her pregnant.
While taking part in a study for treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder, when asked about my sexuality, I answered: “I am Bi.” I was informed that a common symptom of BPD was confusion about one’s sexuality. I made it clear, that I was not confused at all: I am Bi! During my year in care, my carer was a Pentecostal Church goer. They too believed homosexuality was a result of sexual abuse or a sign of the devil… Of something terribly wrong!
Some Gay men feel they can’t share their experiences of child sexual abuse, especially if their bodies responded to touch, as a body naturally does, thinking this is the root of their homosexuality. Some are told they probably asked for it, or it wasn’t that bad if they ejaculated.
Another silly idea is that Lesbians are the way they are because being abused by a man put them off the opposite sex.
The Engagement with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/ questioning + victims and survivors Report, from The Independent Enquiry – child sexual abuse, published in May 2022, shares experiences from victims and survivors:
“People might say ‘she is the way she is because of the abuse’.” and “If we are LGBTQ because a man abused us and ‘we are blaming all men’ or if we got abused by a woman we ‘are confused’”. LGBTQ+ victims and survivors
“It took me a while to come out as I attached my child sexual abuse with being gay.” LGBTQ+ victim and survivor
“I’ve been asked whether I’m non-binary specifically because I experienced child sexual abuse and whether I’m turning my discomfort with my body from the sexual abuse into a gender issue that isn’t really there.” LGBTQ+ victim and survivor
“People who ‘subscribe’ to any form of so-called ‘alternative’ lifestyles – whether that be in dress, lifestyle or whatever, seem to be blamed more for any abuse they receive as if they are somehow either getting what they ‘deserve’, or asking for abuse by the way they dress or live their lives.” LGBTQ+ victim and survivor
It is heartbreaking to read these experiences: here are individuals who have been hurt in a deep way and who are, as adults (of all genders) further dismissed, judged, and abandoned by enablers (of all genders) in the name of God, of what is “normal”. The suffering of raped children is being completely discarded. Some of us have no one to turn to.
My dear friends from the LGBTQA+ community, I see you. I hear you. I stand with you.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – IICSA: ” …chaired by Professor Alexis Jay OBE (pictured), was set up because of serious concerns that some organisations had failed and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse…”
Run and led by LGBTQI+ people, we offer inclusive, sensitive, non-judgemental support and a safe space to connect with others. We know that LGBTQI+ people are more at risk of poor mental health. That’s why we’ve developed Rainbow Mind services.”
(Also published on Winter Turns into Spring)