Am I Asexual or Traumatized

Am I Asexual or Traumatized?

Getting Answers and Support to Overcome Trauma from Icarus

Sexual trauma is, unfortunately, very prevalent. People who have been sexually abused or who have endured another form of sexual trauma and violence may notice a number of different effects, such as problems with intimacy and relationships, mental health concerns, physical health effects, or loss of productivity at work or school.

Some people who have been through trauma wonder, “Am I asexual or traumatized?” Asexuality is a valid sexual orientation. Not everyone who is asexual has been through sexual trauma, and having been through sexual trauma does not invalidate your asexuality.

For some people, it can be hard to identify how they feel about sex and their sexuality. This article will discuss asexuality and sexual attraction, sexual desire and trauma, and why trauma treatment matters for anyone who has been through a traumatic event.

We will also touch on how Icarus in New Mexico offers support for PTSD and trauma survivors, with proven mental health programs and trauma treatment approaches.

Understanding the Asexual Spectrum

Asexual Spectrum

Asexual people experience lower levels of sexual attraction than other people. Asexuality exists on a spectrum. An asexual person may never feel sexual attraction, or they may experience sexual attraction less frequently than others.

Underneath the asexuality spectrum or umbrella, there are other terms like gray asexual and demisexual that might fit some people’s experiences better.

The Nature of Sexual Desire and Trauma

Those who don’t feel that they are asexual may feel bothered by their lack of sexual desire. Sexual desire is defined by internal motivation, drive, or interest in sexual activity. This is what differentiates sexual desire from attraction, which is the draw or pull toward a specific person or people you see.

There’s research on sexual desire and trauma. Studies indicate that:

  • Adverse childhood experiences can be associated with lower sexual desire.
  • Depression, which is linked to trauma, can be associated with lower libido or desire.
  • People who develop PTSD after sexual assault are more likely to face a decline in sexual function (e.g., sexual desire, aversion, pain, or lower satisfaction levels).

If one or more of those resonate with you, trauma could be what affects your sex life. Part of healing from trauma is learning to trust yourself and get to know yourself. The bottom line is that, in time, your inner self will answer the question, “Am I asexual or traumatized?”

An asexual person will often have a hunch, even if it takes time, that they’re asexual. The word asexual, demi-sexual, or gray ace (which all fall under the asexuality spectrum) will often feel right to that person. Conversely, a trauma survivor who feels that past experiences affect their sex life and does not resonate with being on the asexual spectrum will likely discover that this is the case in time: They may not be asexual.

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What Does it Mean to Be Asexual?

Unfortunately, asexuality is often misunderstood. If you feel pressured to be more sexual than you are but don’t experience sexual desire or attraction, it could be due to external pressure or what’s called aphobia (stigma and discrimination against asexual people). For example, if you want to have sex because you feel that it’d make you a “better partner” but don’t have that internal drive or desire for sex and otherwise wouldn’t want to do it, it may be an internalized fear of how you’ll be perceived by others as an asexual person.

Since asexual people can experience romantic attraction just as intensely as other people — particularly, if they aren’t both asexual and aromantic, though aromanticism also exists on a spectrum  — it can be important for asexual people to scope this out.

Remove shame and think about what you really want. Although a therapist can’t tell you what your sexuality is or should be, mental health and trauma therapy can help you work through shame and anything else that might show up for you as you ask this question.

Am I Asexual or Traumatized?

Experiencing lack of sexual attraction

If you experience a consistent lack of sexual attraction or have lower sexual desire than other people, you may be on the asexual spectrum. The only person who can define your sexuality is you. No one should try to push you to feel more sexual desire than you do. The only reason you should pursue sexual experiences is that you are personally interested in having sexual experiences.

One thing that can be helpful is to reflect on questions like:

  • Before I experienced trauma, did I desire sex?
  • Have I experienced sexual attraction in some way at any time in my life?
  • If I felt fully healed from trauma, would I desire sexual intimacy? (This question may be more helpful for people who experienced sexual trauma early in life).

It is critical that any treatment provider you see respects your sexual orientation. A mental health professional, or anyone else in your life, should never tell you that you’re asexual because of abuse.

Many people who are asexual did not experience sexual abuse, but with the prevalence of sexual assault, you can be an asexual person who has survived assault or abuse. Again, you are the only one who can define your sexuality.

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Getting Help for Trauma Still Matters

Whether you are asexual or not, traumatic experiences like sexual assault or sexual abuse can affect you in many different ways. Trauma is linked to physical health problems, mental health concerns, problems with attachment and interpersonal relationships, focus and concentration issues, and substance abuse. That’s why getting help for trauma matters.

Getting high-quality, trauma-informed treatment can also help you trust yourself and feel confident in who you are. Asexual or not, that self-confidence and trust will help you walk through the world, feel healthily self-assured, and live the life you want.

LGBTQIA+-friendly treatment can help you hold your head high and feel confident in who you are, whether as an asexual or non-asexual person.

What are the Treatments for Sexual Abuse and Trauma?

Treatments for Sexual Abuse and Trauma

Icarus Behavioral Health has inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for trauma, addiction, and mental health. The inpatient programs at Icarus allow clients to live on-site and include full daily therapy schedules. Our outpatient programs are more flexible, ranging from partial hospitalization treatment to intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment.

Before you start treatment at Icarus NM, we’ll give you a free intake assessment that’ll ask about your personal history and current symptoms or concerns. Then, we’ll go over the treatment options available to you and work with you to determine the best starting level of care.

Icarus Behavioral Health’s treatment programs use a range of evidence-based therapies known to address trauma, substance abuse, and mental health concerns. For example:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Group and Individual Therapy
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Art and Music Therapy
  • Medication Management

We use a mixed-methods approach and offer supportive holistic treatments, recreation activities, and other services that can help you restore your life following trauma. If you have a co-occurring substance use disorder, our dual diagnosis program can help.

Our facilities at Icarus in New Mexico welcome all. We’re able to take clients to LGBTQIA+ support groups in the area as part of their treatment plan. If this is something you’re interested in, please let our staff members know or give us a call to find out more about what our treatment programs can do for you.

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All Too Often: The Statistics on Sexual Assault and Abuse

More than half of women and nearly one in three men experience some form of sexual violence involving physical contact at some point in their lives.

Sexual trauma is a common cause of post-traumatic stress disorder. Research shows that 81 percent of sexual assault survivors have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms one week after the event. One month after the event, which is when PTSD can be formally diagnosed, 75 percent of sexual assault survivors meet the criteria of PTSD.

Age, race, and gender can play a role in experiences with sexual trauma. Racial and ethnic minority groups can face an increased risk of sexual violence. When it comes to age group as a risk factor, people ages 18-34 are at the highest risk of sexual assault and rape. For example, women and girls experience sexual violence at higher rates.

The mental health professionals at Icarus are trauma-informed and equipped to address sexual trauma from a whole-person perspective.

Get Help for Sexual Trauma and PTSD at Icarus New Mexico

Treatment for Sexual Trauma and PTSD

If you have had a traumatic experience of any kind, trauma treatment can help. Contact Icarus Behavioral Health in New Mexico to learn more about treatment, verify your insurance coverage, or get answers to any other questions you might have. Call our admissions line today to get in touch.

FAQs About Asexuality and Trauma

Is aromanticism the same as asexuality?

Being aromatic is not the same as asexuality. Although you can be both aromantic and asexual, often called aro-ace, being aromantic means that you experience romantic attraction on a limited basis. Like asexuality, aromanticism is a spectrum. Some aromantic people desire romantic relationships to some degree, but others don’t at all.

How does trauma affect your sex life?

Someone who desires sex but feels that trauma has affected their relationship with sex might feel scared of sex. You might have a panic attack, flashbacks, or feel heightened nervousness around sexual activity, even if you want to be sexually active.

Trauma and trauma disorders can also affect energy levels, mood, communication, and trust, which can affect relationships and sexual intimacy. Getting help for trauma can help you regulate your nervous system and overcome the effects of trauma.

What does it mean if I don’t experience sexual attraction?

If you don’t experience sexual attraction, you may be asexual.

Some people assume that asexual people wouldn’t be asexual if they started dating the right person. Many asexuals believe they’re just a late bloomer and later discover that this is not the case. It is also true that many people have an inkling that they’re asexual early on, which may never change.

Does being a late Bloomer mean I am asexual?

Healthy Romantic Relationships

It is perfectly okay to be a late bloomer, and some people with trauma will find a stronger desire for sex when they feel comfortable and stable. However, it is also okay if you find that you never desire a sexual experience or feel sexual attraction less frequently than others.

Asexual people can live fulfilling lives with healthy romantic relationships. Some asexual people choose not to have sex at all, whereas others are sexually attracted to other people in specific instances and may choose to have sex at times.

Is there a way to fix asexuality?

Asexuality is not something to fix. Like being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, or any other part of the LGBTQIA+ community, asexuality is a part of human diversity. It is not a physical or mental health issue.

Can trauma impact my sex life?

If a person’s sex life is affected by trauma, treatment can help. Asexual people often find that trauma treatment doesn’t change anything about how they feel or what they want. If you are asexual, trauma treatment still matters because it can help you through the other ways trauma shows up in your life.



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