Did my sexual abuse make me gay?

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by Candice Czubernat

I remember it like it was yesterday, the day I realized I had been sexually abused. I was 6 years old and riding bikes with my best friend Abby making what must have been our millionth time around the block. We had just passed my house when I told her what had happened between myself and a man in our neighborhood. I knew I had knots in my stomach over what had happened, but I didn’t know why I felt upset. I hadn’t understood what had happened, nor did I have language for it and I wonder how my friend seemed to know about sexual abuse and I didn’t. When I told her what had transpired, in all of her 6-year-old wisdom she instructed me that this was really serious and that I needed to tell my parents. I trusted her and her advice and so did just that. I told my mom and dad.

All these years later, I’m amazed and grateful for Abby’s wisdom and my courage. I can’t imagine how my life would have turned out if I had not spoken those words all those years ago. Not because of what happened after I did, but because having not spoken about the trauma I think would have broken my spirit somehow. If I had not told someone, the trauma would still be ruling my life and coming out in harmful ways through things like addiction and low self esteem just to name a couple possibilities. Honestly, outside of the anger I felt when I would see the house of the man who harmed me (I stayed away from that part of the neighborhood as much as possible), I never thought much about my abuse at all. That is until I wondered about its impact on my sexual identity many years later while in college.

It was then, while attending Bible college, that I told my pastor that I was struggling with same sex attraction (that’s the only language I had at the time) and one of his first questions had to do with whether or not I had been a victim of sexual abuse. I remember a knot in the back of my throat forming when he asked me about my past. I felt as if he saw right through me. It was a feeling of being exposed and I didn’t want to answer, but when someone in power asks you something like that, you shut up those parts that say, This isn’t your freakin business and you hold back the fear and tears to say, “Yes I was.” That was my answer and his face quickly flashed a knowing look that said, Yup, I already knew that. In that moment I felt more wounded and broken than I had in… maybe forever. I was exposed as an abuse victim and a homosexual. I felt so much shame during that conversation that it took what felt like years to shake off.

Many times, when people in positions of power within a faith context are told about someone being LGBTQ, they see a waving flag that says, This is an easy answer! It’s because you were abused! To them, it makes complete sense that the only thing that could cause in their eyes such a horrible thing as homosexual feelings would be a situation where abuse had occurred. An experience of sexual abuse is the obvious reason for the how and why of same-sex attraction. They believe that if you can find healing, you will be free of the sin of homosexuality. Even though I felt uncomfortable with my pastor’s question because of the invasiveness of it, I began to wonder if this was at the heart of my attraction towards other women. At the time I reasoned and deducted sexual abuse harms a person’s sexuality, it mars the sexual parts within us. Being LGBTQ is a result of such a wound. Put two and two together and BAM! It’s an obvious connection. Surely the abuse messed up my sexuality so badly that I was now experiencing a same sex attraction!

The connection might be lost on you, but I promise you, there are thousands of people out there who are being convinced of this by their church leaders, family members and their own doubts and fears.

At this point, it feels important to put on our thinking caps and dive into the numbers and explore the implications of the statistics. There are differing statistics, but most studies agree that between 1 and 4, or 1 and 6 people in the United States have experienced sexual abuse. I tend to lean towards the 1 and 4 because I’ve seen this as an accurate number in my work and we’ll use it for our purposes as well. Breaking that down, there are roughly 316,000,000 people in the United States currently. If 1 in 4 people have been sexually abused that means that approximately 79,000,000 people who have experienced that kind of abuse.

Statistics also show that depending on the state, the range of Americans that identify as LGBTQ range from 2.7% to 5%. If we decided that we wanted to apply the largest percentage of people at 5% then that means there are 15,800,000 people in the US who identify as LGBTQ. That’s a difference of 63,200,000 people who have experienced sexual abuse but who are not LGBTQ. Numbers are always important to examine but many times they are easy for us reason them away. That said, just looking at the numbers here, even if we missed a million people in our calculations, these figures just don’t match up. There is no way there’s a connection between sexual abuse and homosexuality by purely looking at the numbers. If they are so clear and the lack of connection is so easy to make, why are there still Christians trying to make a connection between abuse and a gay orientation? I think it comes from a belief that being LGBTQ is a broken way of being human. They see it as a sad, unhealthy and lost way to live out one’s love and sexual orientation in the world.

But here’s the thing, it just isn’t. It just… isn’t.

This is going to sound kinda crazy, but I’m glad I’m a lesbian.

I freakin’ love being gay and would not want it any other way.

I’ve seen in my own life, in the life of my friends and those I work with in my therapy practice who are all LGBTQ that the spirit of God is reflected in such real, beautiful ways that it can’t be denied. Whether we are born this way or not, it’s clear that God has made us special in such a way that reflects Christ in the most unique and profound ways. Being LGBTQ is not bad or sad or unhealthy. It’s beautiful. On the other hand, sexual abuse is deeply tragic, horrific and evil. While there is redemption and healing for those who have suffered and survived sexual abuse, it cannot “change” or “create” an orientation.

While having been sexually abused cannot change or create an orientation – straight or LGBTQ – it can surely affect and impact the way you live that orientation out. I’m not saying sexual abuse doesn’t affect you, because it very much does. It can affect our style of relating to others, our feelings of happiness and safety in the world and even our ability to enjoy physical and emotional intimacy. But these things can be healed and mended. I know for me and for many people I know, meeting with a therapist and walking through the wounds of sexual abuse has been one of the most life-changing and freeing experiences. When I think about what I went through, I no longer wonder if there’s a connection between the pain I experienced and the fact that I happen to be attracted to women more then men. I also don’t feel the heaviness, or burden I used to carry around that was connected to my abuse. When I think about it I feel strong, grounded and at peace. I am not broken but I am beautiful.

15 thoughts on “Did my sexual abuse make me gay?

  1. I have been struggling with this to the point where suicide seemed a viable option. I needed this and I am very grateful. God bless you!!

  2. I’m so glad each of you connected to what I wrote, but especially to you, Maria. I cannot say how grateful I am that this helped you see your value more and perhaps give language and grounding to a painful struggle. I know its not easy but please reach out for support to those who understand and can love you through this.

  3. Amazing context and such well explored questions, it took real strength to even attempt to probe the moral and ethical religious questions you have but you did it brilliantly

  4. First of all, I would like to offer my sympathies on your abuse. That is horrible, and pure evil that any human could do that to any child, or anyone else for that matter!
    As for the link between sexual abuse & homosexuality, a lot of people do speculate about a link between the two. But, that is just speculation, as NOBODY knows the absolute truth about that.
    Being gay IS a very complex issue, and there really are no easy answers as to how someone becomes gay. But I trust God in that NOBODY was ever “born gay” NOBODY! There is zero factual, credible evidence to conclude that. You both are Beautiful Women, and I admire your courage to stand up & tell your story! But, just as sure as you are breathing now, I can guarantee (based on God’s Word) that nobody was ever born gay!!! The closest anyone can come to arriving at a conclusion as to why anyone would turn gay is the fact that Satan hates God, and anyone that has anything to do with God. What God has that is good, Satan has an evil counterfeit that he uses to deceive / destroy anyone or anything that God has that is good! God ordained the Man+Woman Marriage, so satan came up with his counterfeit- same sex “marriage”
    That is just the way it is, and so it is a complex, complicated issue. Someone may never get over a “same sex attraction”, for what ever reasons it got started. We never get over our lust issues, either. I have been faithfully married to my wife for 27 years, but still sometimes I see a beautiful, sexy woman, and I start to have lustful thoughts, but I just have to remember the wages of sin is death, and I can’t/ don’t want to sin against God & my wife, so I have to put that thought out of my head, fast! It is not a sin to be TEMPTED, but it IS a sin to ACT ON a temptation…….
    Thank You for reading this, and I pray that you really seek the truth of what is in the Bible!
    Sailor Dale Cares!

  5. Good job spiting on this woman’s bravery Sailor Dale. Why the need to talk about yourself? I didn’t read any mention of you and your thoughts about women when you look at them. Her, having the guts as a 6 year old girl to talk to anyone about this wicked act is in it of it’s self enough reason to applaud her. But to also be told that her sexuality is wrong by the self-righteous like yourself, just makes her that much more of a stronger individual. There is absolutely no scripture saying these very assuming truths.

    Stay strong Candice and thank you for sharing. You can already see the beautiful ripples you have created with your story. Do not let the rock cause you grief. Never be a ashamed of who you are. Love and let love.

  6. I have a friend who was sexually abused by a relative and she believes that this is what made her lesbian. However, I have many other LGBTQ friends who were not sexually abused and believe they were born that way. Honestly, until I learned the story of the one friend’s abuse, I had never questioned that you’re born with the sexual orientation and identity that you have. I liked how you explored these complex ideas so well. And as Hernando Marquez said so well in a pervious comment, you are so strong and brave to have shared so much of your personal life, not just in this post, but in all of your posts, and to endure the judgement and bias that unfortunately our society has not yet moved past.

  7. I cringe whenever I hear the argument, “being gay is a result of sexual abuse.” It’s condescending and it feels too much like a guilt trip: “If you’d just get over this, you’d heal and be cured of your homosexual ways!” Nope. Not how it works.

    This explanation is just the newest grasp at some straws. The same type of comments keep getting circulated around, “Don’t act on your same-sex attraction! It’s Satan tempting you!”, “I’m only telling you you’re going to hell because I love you!”, “Same sex relationships are all about lust and nothing to do with love!”, and now the, “You must have been abused!” Many people and churches do absolutely nothing about actually understanding homosexuality–they just throw around some words, then when people tire of them, they rearrange the words. Rinse and repeat.

    I couldn’t stay in the church. I’m no longer a Christian, but I’m so glad I’ve discovered your blog. You have a very beautiful heart, and I love coming across people who are Christian and preaching love and acceptance for those who wish to practice but get pushed away (even though I’m no longer Christian, it breaks my heart when my Christian friends get discriminated against due to their sexuality). Thank you for standing up and for your message of love. ❤ ❤ ❤

  8. You know what Candice, I just want to thank you again for this well written article. It pulled me from the edge of death in helping me realize maybe I did not have to die for being gay. This article was like the first “spark” that left me wondering that maybe what I have felt all along, that I was born gay, was simply the truth, and it led me on a path of research which in the end has left me elated, for I know for certain, what I always thought is the truth, I was born gay and I am proud of it. I do not live thinking only of dying anymore and this article had EVERYTHING to do regarding that. May God bless you and keep you…… Maria

  9. I am also struggling with this assumption.I recently found out my spouse was trans, and she (formerly he) is now more attractive than ever. I think I was attracted to her originally for her feminine ways. In hindsight, I’ve always liked women. I had a crash on a friend in 6th grade. I tried to come out to my mom in 9th grade. I like men, too, but women seem just as pretty and alluring. I always assumed it was tied to sexual abuse by a family member as a child, and I was ashamed. I assumed this was a broken part of me that I needed to hide away. It took my brave, transsexual spouse to show me that there was nothing wrong with being myself. I am lovely and perfect just the way I am, and so is she. I am finally happy with myself, and no longer lump the shame of sexual abuse in with my orientation. I am bi, and I prefer women. I no longer debase myself and correlate my identity with the evil that happened to me so long ago. I hope others out there read your article and also find peace (as well as ignore the crazy self-righteous bigots in the comments.) Be strong. Whether you have faith or not, you are who you are meant to be. Live this life in a way that makes you happy and don’t worry about what the neighbors think, because you only get this one shot.

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