Around the age of 18, I started questioning if I was asexual or not. I was sexually active with my boyfriend at the time (yes, him, my rapist) but I started to feel uneasy when he touched me. Eventually, that feeling turned to disgust and fear. I told him I was asexual or I was so depressed that I lost my sex drive. So, we stopped having sex.
Well, he would try and push me or guilt me, but we didn't have any sexual relations the last year and a half of our relationship. The problem with my theory of asexuality was I still felt desire. I would still masturbate (yes, women and non-binary people masturbate and I'm comfortable admitting that). How could I be asexual, defined as without sexual feelings or associations, but still have sexual desires and fantasies?
My ex was pissed when he found out I masturbated, not like I was hiding it. I assumed he would know this as I knew he did. He was so angry and upset with me. His words on the matter were, "If you have enough sexual feelings to masturbate, you have enough to sleep with me." That's when it hit me. I wasn't asexual, I just wasn't sexually attracted to him. I struggled with the idea of not being attracted to my partner. I found him good-looking, yet I felt disgusted at his naked form and his touch.
It wasn't until I started seeing a therapist during my sophomore year of college that I discovered the problem. I had PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder simply is a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. My therapist took my symptoms of nightmares and asexuality and anxiety and my discomfort with men and loud noises as PTSD from my sexual assault and rape experiences.
Which made sense, for I had an easier time flirting and fantasizing with women instead of men. I find myself more comfortable dating women and non-binary individuals, that being said I'm still sexually attracted to all genders. I just have a harder time trusting men. I flinch if a man raises his voice too loud or advances toward me too quickly.
I now know that I'm not asexual and yet I still can't bring myself to have sex. I want to, I want to experience people and get a feel for my comfort level and preferences, but I have a panic attack anytime something becomes romantic or physical. I'm not just terrified of sex, I'm terrified of relationships and love. I don't want to be committed to anyone with being so confused on what I want in a partner. I also don't want to be hurt again.
So, I've promised myself at least a year, maybe two. No sexual or romantic relationships for that time. This way I can continue to see my therapist and figure everything out. I need time to feel comfortable in my own skin and I urge anyone who questioning these same problems to seek a therapist or counselor.
I know how lost and confused I felt during this time and no one deserves that. There are numerous differences between asexuality and sexual trauma. It's possible to become asexual after being sexually traumatized, but they're not the same. I hope to one day be comfortable enough to get back out there, but until then I'll heal and focus on me.