By Chelsea Hood, Underserved Populations Policy Advocate & Training Assistant
Asexuality, also known as Ace, is a sexual orientation categorized as a persistent lack of sexual attraction to any gender (Deutsch, 2018). Although Asexuality is connected to the LGBTQ+ community, Asexuality is known as "the invisible orientation." Many people have never heard of Asexuality, and others believe that only those with a history of sexual abuse could be uninterested in sex (Villines, 2018). Asexual survivors of sexual assault are highly vulnerable to microaggressions and stereotypes because of misinformation of this identity and heterosexual beliefs linked to societal pressures about sex.
Although there is limited research on Asexual survivors of sexual assault, the 2015 Asexual Community Census Summary Report found that:
• 35.4% of Asexual participants reported having sexual contact including groping or kissing that they didn’t consent to/were unable to consent.
• 18.5% of Asexual participants reported having had sex due to social pressure from a partner.
• 43.5% of Asexual participants reported having experienced sexual violence.
Ace survivors are commonly subjected to corrective rape. Corrective rape occurs when the offender seeks to "fix" or "correct" someone's sexuality by assaulting or raping them based on their abusive beliefs towards people who are not heterosexual. This form of assault is used as a punishment by attempting to "teach a lesson" to Asexual survivors.
As a society and as victim advocates and service providers, we must educate ourselves on identity groups to understand the Asexual community. Sadly, there are potential barriers that Ace folks may face when accessing supportive services. There is a fear of being viewed as "not real" because of societal views, their orientation being in question, or people seeing their orientation as a sign of trauma or assuming that the survivor has a "negative belief" about sex. Another barrier that Asexual people may face is the negative perception that Asexual survivors have significantly fewer human nature traits and experience fewer human emotions (Doan-Minh, 2019). As service providers and advocates, we must confront and break down biases towards this community and understand that this is a legitimate sexual orientation that must be treated seriously (Strauss & Fava, 2019).
Asexuality is a spectrum of sexuality, and it is fluid with several identities that are connected to the community. Some common identities include:
To learn more about the Asexual community, visit The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project (TAAAP) for information on Asexuality and Aromanticism. To learn more about resources for Ace survivors of sexual violence visit Resources for Ace Survivors, which is a project for helping Asexual-Spectrum (Ace) folks who experienced sexual violence.
Deutsch, T. (2018). Asexual People’s Experience with Microaggressions. Retrieved from Asexual People’s Experience with Microaggressions (cuny.edu)
Doan-Minh, S. (2019). Corrective Rape: An Extreme Manifestation of Discrimination and the State’s Complicity in Sexual Violence. Retrieved from Corrective Rape: An Extreme Manifestation of Discrimination and the State's Complicity in Sexual Violence (uchastings.edu)
Strauss, L., & Fava, D. (2019). The Assumed Relationship Between Asexuality and Trauma. Development of Psychological Science, Saint Vincent College. Retrieved from St. Vincent College
Villines, Z. (2018). 50 Shades of Attraction: Understanding the Asexuality Spectrum. Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/50-shades-attraction-understanding-asexual-spectrum-1121184