Ok.. im not really sure where to begin. I am mid to late 30s and have always had relationships with opposite sex. My last relationship was an abusive one mentally/emotionally/sexual/coercive I also was sexually abused as a teenager for a prolonged period of time and endured physical abuse as a child from my mothers partner at the time. Subsequently I have been diagnosed with PTSD.
I have always felt attracted to a degree to the same sex however this has increased over the last few years.
I dont know if this is because i find it exceptionally hard to trust men and feel very uncomfortable not knowing their intentions and also in their company. I briefly dated a year ago but the minute intamacy started i panicked and felt shame and guilt and disgust. Which is part of my PTSD.
I find myself thinking about woman or what it would be like. The thought of intamacy with another man makes me feel nauseus and disgusted. Yet i find myself feeling intrigued as to what it may be like with a woman.
I sit and think about men and i cant see myself being attracted to one yet when i think about a lady i feel curious and at ease - if that makes sense.
I dont know if in fact im attracted to woman or if my past Trauma has affected my view?
Has anyone changed orientation due to trauma? Can it happen? Or is it that im confused.
Sorry for long post but needed to try get my thought process out in the hope someone can make sense of it.
First of all, thank you for your post and welcome to the OutLife forums.
I'm sorry to hear that your experiences have been so difficult and sometimes traumatic. I've never experienced the kind of abuse that you mention but as someone with long-term mental health problems from previous trauma, I can sympathise with how much these kinds of events affect us in the long run.
As for the central question of your post: "can trauma affect sexual orientation?" I'm going to do my best to answer here, though I'm not an expert and honestly, sexuality is still poorly understood I'm going to shy away from making any categorical statements. The generally received wisdom on sexual orientation is that it's not something that can be changed: events that happen in your life merely adjust your ability to accept, or reconcile yourself with your innate attraction to women, men, both, neither etc. This seems to be true for a lot of people, though lots of people do experiment outside of the orientation with which they identify, and this is perfectly normal and healthy. This is just one model of how sexual orientation works, however, and there is evidence that in some people, sexual attraction can be more fluid, depending on a variety of different factors. It's still an active area of discussion and research, and one to which I don't think there will be any definitive answers any time soon! Even the use of the labels for sexual orientation like gay, or straight, is hotly contested, and some people think they should be done away with altogether.
I personally think it highly unlikely that trauma would suddenly cause someone to develop an attraction that isn't already there. I.e I don't think that a traumatic experience could cause someone who was gay, to wake up and feel opposite sex attraction that didn't already exist in some form.
Also, what I can say categorically is that lots of people explore their sexuality a little later in life, be that 30, 50, or even into their 70s. It's perfectly normal and healthy to do so, and in each of these cases, the circumstances are different.
I've got absolutely no way of identifying what's happening in your case, and honestly, the only person who can resolve those feelings and make sense of them, is you. Exploring these feelings with a therapist in a safe, non-judgemental environment is a great way of starting that process. I'd shy away from other people telling you what's happening with your own sexuality, or try and steer you in a particular direction. Given that you've experienced abuse from both a care giver and a partner, seeing a therapist might also provide you with some space to work through that at the same time.
I'm sorry if this isn't the kind of definitive response you may have been looking for. Hopefully using some of the resources below, you might be able to find another organisation that can provide you with some support and help you along this journey:
- Switchboard. An LGBTQ+ helpline run by volunteers that are here to help you with whatever you want to talk about. Nothing is off limits. Call: 0300 330 0630, 10am-10pm - email email@example.com - Web chat switchboard.lgbt/.
- SupportU - A confidential support line for LGBTQ+ people. Information offered on coming out, family problems, sexual health, etc. You can call them on 0118 321 9111.
- You don't mention where you are, but there are multiple LGBTQ+ charities across the country, like LGBT Foundation in Manchester or London Friend which offer drop-in services, or short-term counselling which could help. Some organisations also offer long-term low-cost therapy from an LGBTQ+ psychotherapist. It's worth looking at,
- There are also tonnes of LGBTQ+ support groups across the country. Maybe talking to some queer women about their experiences might help you organise your own thoughts? You can find some of them on sites like Meetup, or through the charities like those listed above.
I hope you found some of this helpful, and if you have any questions or need to come back again, don't hesitate to post.