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  • J.L. Whitehead

How often do you think about sex?

As most of you know, I was molested by three different men at the age of thirteen. Ever since then, my mind has been preoccupied with sex. Initially, I thought this was the by-product of an adolescent that was growing up with a secret that I was trying to hide from myself as well as the rest of the world. I was a sixties child which means that by the time I got into my early teens (which was about in the mid-seventies), I was starting to feel the urges of a boy that was physically maturing. I did not have a father around to lead me into manhood. He was not there to explain to me what was going on with my body. He was not there to teach me the things that I needed to know to be a productive member of society. Instead, I had to rely on what I learned in the streets and from friends of mine. And then there was the urges that I had for boys instead of girls.


I went to great lengths to hide that secret but found myself succumbing to those urges at every turn. It was particularly bad in high school. I did not know how to interact with girls. As bad as I wanted to, part of me knew that pursuing them, no matter how pretty they were, was going to end in disaster.


I tried to quell what I felt about guys by pushing the thoughts into a small little box and then shoving it back into the inner recesses of my mind, only for it emerge in full force whenever I met a man that I was attracted to. This battle went on for years and to a degree, still goes on even to this day. Being molested opened a door to a thought process that I could not close no matter how badly I wanted to. I thought about sex constantly back then…and I think about it constantly now although it is for a different reason.



At first, I cast off my preoccupation with sex as a boy growing up and his hormones were kicking in. What was lost on me was why I did not feel the same primal urge for females as I did with males. I attributed that to my molestation as well. And while that may be a fact, it was lost on me as to why I thought about sex so often. I did not think that this was part of normal behavior. Instead, I shoved that into a box in the back of my mind and refused to open it.


Some victims of molestation will act out and pursue sex the same way that they play their favorite sport.


So, here is the multi-million-dollar question; how often do you think about sex? And as a follow up to that, how often do you act out on your urges?


I have not had the privilege of talking to many male abuse survivors, but I often wondered if we are preoccupied with sex because of what happened to us. If we had an orgasm because of the trauma inflicted upon us, does that produce a subliminal message that plays in an endless loop, over and over in our minds?


Do we feel a sense of shame and self-loathing because of these thoughts, or do we dismiss them only for the feelings to re-emerge later?


One of the things that I have heard is that abuse victims typically become abusers. I read somewhere that this is true for about one third of abuse victims. In my case, I think that I have thought about sex way too often unless life distracts me. Fortunately, that happens on most days.


But for many of us, because of being introduced to sex at an early age, we are not able to turn off those thoughts as much or as quickly as we would like.


Think of it this way; your formative years is between 0 – 8 years of age. It is also a period of a rapid cognitive (intellectual), social, emotional, and physical development of a child. Being introduced to sex too soon is in essence teaching a child about sex before the child is ready to learn about it, much less experience it.


I was abused by my uncle when I was six years old. I remember the incident all too well. The foundation for sex had been laid at that point. The door had been opened to thoughts, feelings and urges that initially, I thought I could control even though I secretly did not want to.


As I got older, I learned what behaviors were acceptable and what behaviors were not. I learned how to navigate socially even though it was challenging at times. I learned how to date girls and then later, how to date boys.


I learned how to hold my head up high and not make any apologies to anyone over who I am despite what happened to me when I was younger. Those are wounds that most people who know me will never be privy to.


Friends, I know that we have questions regarding why the abuser chose us to inflict irreversible pain. For that, I do not have an answer. All I can tell you is that what they did speaks volumes about them and has absolutely nothing to do with you.


All you can do is learn to manage your pain as well as your thoughts. For some of us, we manage our pain by simply not acknowledging it. For other, we delve into our pain hoping that one day, it will not be there.


I am still managing my pain some 47 years after I was abused.


I do not think that it will ever go away. I think that instead of it going away, much like a chronic health condition; you learn to live with it.


~J.L. Whitehead


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