Does Child Sexual Abuse Cause Homosexuality…?
Wilson, H., & Widom, C. (2009). Does Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, or Neglect in Childhood Increase the Likelihood of Same-sex Sexual Relationships and Cohabitation? A Prospective 30-year Follow-up Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39 (1), 63-74 DOI: 10.1007/s10508-008-9449-3
In this comprehensive study, Wilson and Widom (2009) explored the links between child abuse and later same-sex relationships, and cohabitation. They noted, at p.67, that ‘[m]en who have sex with men report rates of childhood sexual abuse that are approximately three times higher than that of the general male population’. Referring to several authors, they propose a number of possible reasons as to why this might be so, including:
1. That childhood sexual abuse can lead to same-sex sexual orientation;
2. That childhood sexual abuse ‘may result in uncertainty regarding sexual orientation and greater experimentation with both same- and opposite-sex relationships’ (p.67);
3. That a ‘child’s sexual orientation or attractions precede[s] the abuse’ (p.67); and
4. That children ‘who later identify a same-sex sexual orientation are disproportionately targeted as victims of abuse’ (p.67).
In the present study, Wilson and Widom (2009) found ‘tentative support for a relationship between childhood sexual abuse and same-sex sexual relationships, but this relationship appeared only for men’ (p.71). That is, for men who were sexually abused as children. They conclude that their ‘findings do not imply that sexual abuse ‘‘causes’’ boys to grow up with a homosexual preference’ (p.72). However, I would suggest that any research that looks at this highly politicised issue, invariably leads to the plausible conclusion that adverse life circumstances create gay men. We have all heard the stereotype of the absent father and overbearing mother. It is possible that straight men are much less likely to report having been abused, especially sexually abused, as children than gay men are, thereby calling into question the 3:1 ratio mentioned at the outset of this post.