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Savage Love

You need to seize control of your sexuality, or your sense of estrangement from it will only continue to grow.

I am a 17-year-old girl growing up in an adoptive family. I was sexually abused by my birth family, and I think it really fucked up my sexuality. The only thing that gets me off is the idea of people absolutely destroying their lives for an orgasm. I started with mild S&M stories and then moved on to grosser stuff like murder (stories and online images), pedo (stories only) and lately I've been thinking about my (adoptive) parents. The thing is, there isn't a pattern as far as gender, age or relationship to the people I am fantasizing about; it just has to be horrible, the kind of thing that would destroy you in real life. These fantasies alone are scary enough, but because they are literally the only things that get me off, I can't even tell if I'm attracted to boys or girls or none of the above. I'm scared to talk to a counselor because I don't want to freak my parents out. I mean, overall I seem like a pretty healthy kid, and I try not to worry them. Do you have any ideas for how I could get help with this without messing up my family?

Not Over Painful Experiences

Sane people can have extreme and/or violent sexual fantasies, NOPE, and extreme and/or violent sexual fantasies do not make sane people crazy. (Let's call them EVSFs for short, shall we?)

But you need to talk to a shrink — not because you're hopelessly damaged, but because you're troubled by your fantasies. And that's understandable. It's difficult to have EVSFs — or to find a healthy way to incorporate EVSFs into your sex life, or to figure out how to dial EVSFs way the fuck back if there's no healthy way to incorporate them into your sex life. And while most people's fantasies are relatively fixed (i.e., certain types of people or scenarios turn them on), your erotic imagination seems to be on the hunt for new "wrong" thoughts and scenarios. You need to seize control of your sexuality, and you'll need help doing that, or your sense of estrangement from your sexuality will only continue to grow.

There are a lot of people who didn't suffer the kind of abuse you did — or abuse at all — but who nevertheless have EVSFs. Some people with troubling fantasies or interests have found relief with low-dose antidepressants; some folks with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been helped by programs that incorporate MDMA, a.k.a. ecstasy, into their treatment. You could be suffering from PTSD, considering your history.

A good therapist — one with whom you are completely honest — may be able to help you reshape and redirect your fantasies in the direction that gives you the "wrongness" charge you need without nuking your mental health or your life. (Stay away from all pedo porn sites, even "stories only" porn. Please.) And a good sex therapist can help you draw a clear distinction between your adult sexuality and your history of sexual abuse. (I shared your letter with a sex researcher I trust, and she urges you to insist on seeing a reputable therapist who does sex therapy specifically, as they're less likely to be sex-negative, or to react with prudish or panicked judgments.)

Considering the abuse you suffered, I trust that your adoptive parents are aware that you may need professional help and that your asking for help is a good sign about: (1) you as a person, and (2) them as parents. At your very first appointment, ask your shrink to confirm that your sessions are confidential. If your shrink tells you he or she can't offer you complete confidentiality (which they can and, in most places, are required to do by law, unless you're a danger to yourself or others), ask to see a different shrink.

Please get help — not because you may be kinky, but because you're struggling with doubt, you're confused about your sexual orientation, and you're rightly worried about the way your erotic imagination keeps upping the "wrongness" ante. And remember: If you don't click with the first one you see, tell your parents you want to see someone else.

I am gay and I have a brother who's gay. The problem is, he is very much into humiliation. He exposes himself online and allows his online "masters" to have control over his pictures and videos. I found his pictures recently, and the embarrassment and humiliation were a huge turn-on for him. (We've never shown any interest sexually in each other. But when he asked if I had any naked pictures, I told him I did and sent some to him, and somehow that was a bit of a turn-on, I must admit.) Soon, my brother told me that he felt really guilty, cleaned up his hard drive, deleted all his pics and mine and asked me to do the same, and swore off playing online. But I found evidence that he's resumed this habit. This has been a pattern for him, he says, and he insists he was somehow damaged in childhood. I told him that he might be happier if he could just accept himself. But I don't think he should quit his "addiction" cold-turkey.

Bro Of Kinky Bro

There are people whose sex lives are complete fucking shitshows, and all they're into is sex in the missionary position with the lights off. Your brother's problem isn't his childhood or his kink. His problems, plural, are his self-loathing, his attempts to swear off his kink (which leads to these binge-and-purge cycles), and the reckless ways he indulges his kink.

Instead of running from his kinks — which he can't do — your brother needs to find safer, saner ways to satisfy his desire. People with humiliation kinks managed to find ways to get off before the Internet came along. So can your brother.

And you need to establish better boundaries. No more swapping pics with your kinky bro, and no more hunting for evidence of his ill-advised online adventures.

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at

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