The connection between sexual abuse and obsessive content related to sexuality deserves further study. I will consider two different situations, the first concerning a gay guy who has been abused in childhood and who presents a gay sexuality deeply conditioned by the experience of the abuse, the second concerning a straight guy who has been abused in adolescence and has developed a gay-themed OCD (I will only deal with the case of a OCD that had already manifested before the abuse). The situations, despite their substantial differences, have a fundamental aspect in common: the identification of the victim with the abuser. Let’s start with the first situation.
1) A gay guy, who has been sexually abused in childhood, has a gay sexuality that in the first meetings with his partners does not present particular problems but, if the relationship deepens, the guy gets to confess to his partner that he has been sexually abused, nevertheless he does not tend to feel as the victim but almost as the co-responsible if not as the promoter of the abuse, he tries anyhow to involve his partner in his obsessive fantasies concerning the abuse with insistently (obsessively) repeated questions about the circumstances of the abuse, asking him what he would do if he found himself in similar situations; faced with evasive or patently disinterested responses, the guy seems incredulous and attributes the lack of interest in sharing that particular sexual fantasies on the part of his partner to an alleged moralism of the partner himself, however the insistence does not cease even in the face of an obvious lack of interest but becomes even more pressing, as if the guy wanted to obtain a confession analogous to his own. The obsessive insistence on the partner goes as far as to induce him, in more or less long time, to distance himself and interrupt the relationship.
It is evident that the memory of the abuse has become a sexual archetype from which it is difficult to get free, and here a mechanism characteristic of the abuse is triggered: the victim imagines himself in the role of the abuser, situations of discomfort even very strong are created this way, because the victim sees himself as a potential pedophile and develops pedophile fantasies in which he assumes, in an oscillating manner, both the role of victim and abuser.
Basically the projective identification with the abuser and his behaviors favors guilt feelings and strongly weakens the possibility of rationalizing the memory of the abuse and of living a sexuality not deeply conditioned by the abuse itself.
2) In the case of the straight guy with a pre-existing gay themed OCD, the abuse in adolescence creates objective complications that cannot be ignored because it does nothing but feed the OCD, even though it cannot actually destroy the guy’s straight sexuality. The mechanism of identification with the abuser, in this case, cannot lead to true gay sexual fantasies (because the guy is a straight guy) but only to obsessions and gay compulsions which, as is usually the case in the OCD, remain, at most, at the level of masturbation and, in almost all cases, never materialize in real sexual relationships. The gay-themed compulsions and obsessions are perceived as deeply disturbing compared to the true sexuality that is and anyway remains straight.
The identification with the abuser can however be more complex when the abuser is not really a gay man but he is a married man or a man who has children, that is when the abuser is or appears to be a straight adult, with whom the straight guy with OCD can easily identify on the basis of the following projective mechanism: ”He is straight because he is married and has children, but if he abused me it means he also had gay fantasies and could not refrain from putting them into practice, but I am straight too, because I have a girlfriend and I have sex with her, but I also have gay fantasies, so in the end I won’t be able to stop myself and I’ll end up needing to have sex with a man. How can I be with a girl if I already desire men and know that sooner or later I will betray her with a man? I am fooling my girlfriend into believing that I am straight, but it is not so!”
In this case the identification mechanism acts through different paths but it is no less disruptive than in the case of the gay guy and creates the risk, sometimes lived obsessively, but objectively not very concrete, to lead to the breakdown the relationship with the girl.
The deeper identification with the abuser leads to two closely related consequences:
1) the responsibility of the abuser appears to be much lighter;
2) even if in such situations it’s evident that in any case no responsibility can be charged on the victim, the victim himself overestimates his own presumed responsibility up to the point to consider his own behavior decisive, and consequently to experience guilt feelings objectively unjustified.
In the two cases presented, the most suitable conditions to overcome obsessive thinking are realized when the guys have their ”real” emotional life, that is:
1) in the first case, when the gay guy lives not a unilateral falling in love but an authentic love story with a guy with whom a relationship is created that is completely independent of the fantasies related to abuse, fantasies which can also remain but marginalized and spontaneously not shared, fantasies that are not considered as a taboo but are very rarely argument of conversation. In essence the stories that materialize or tend to materialize only or mainly in terms of more or less spontaneous sharing of fantasies linked to abuse are not true love stories and therefore do not contribute to the overcoming of obsessive thinking;
2) in the second case, when the straight guy lives a love story in which the girl knows that the guy has been abused and realizes that the obsessive thought linked to the OCD can cause the guy to question his heterosexuality. The OCD has a strong conditioning capacity in two cases:
a) when the girl tries to ignore obsessive contents, pretending that they do not exist;
b) when the girl emphasizes the obsessive contents and offers them a sound box that amplifies their effect.
OCD must be tackled with awareness but without dramatization.
If you want, you can participate in the discussion of this post open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-sexual-abuse-and-obsessive-contents