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The Effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Psychosexual Functioning During Adulthood

Abstract

The study examined whether and how characteristics of childhood sexual abuse and disclosure influenced three dimensions of psychosexual functioning—emotional, behavioral and evaluative—during adulthood. The sample included 165 adults who were sexually abused as children. The General Estimating Equation was used to test the relationship among the predictors, moderators and five binary outcomes: fear of sex and guilt during sex (emotional dimension), problems with touch and problems with sexual arousal (behavioral), and sexual satisfaction (evaluative). Respondents who were older when they were first abused, injured, had more than one abuser, said the abuse was incest, and told someone about the abuse were more likely to experience problems in at least one area of psychosexual functioning. Older children who told were more likely than younger children who told to fear sex and have problems with touch during adulthood. Researchers and practitioners should consider examining multiple dimensions of psychosexual functioning and potential moderators, such as response to disclosure.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the study participants and the staff at the Centres Against Sexual Assault in Victoria, Australia.

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Correspondence to Scott D. Easton.

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Easton, S.D., Coohey, C., O’leary, P. et al. The Effect of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Psychosexual Functioning During Adulthood. J Fam Viol 26, 41–50 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-010-9340-6

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Keywords

  • Sexual functioning
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Adult survivors
  • GEE