Childhood sexual abuse and adult sexuality
Guimond, Jennifer M.
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The goals of the present study were to define and provide evidence for three types of sexual distortions—dysfunctional sexuality, sexual avoidance, and sexual ambivalence— and to identify factors associated with sexual distortions. Participants were classified into one of four groups (avoidant, dysfunctional, ambivalent, and comparison) based on their scores on measures of erotophilia and erotophobia. The dysfunctional group, relative to the comparison group, was characterized by more sexual behavior, more unrestricted sexual behavior, greater sexual preoccupation, greater dysfunctional sexual attitudes, and acceptance of casual sex. The avoidant group, relative to the comparison group, was characterized by less sexual behavior and more avoidant attitudes toward sex. The ambivalent group, relative to the comparison group, was characterized by more indiscriminant sexual contact, greater dysfunctional sexual attitudes, and more avoidant attitudes toward sex. The ambivalent group was not significantly different from the comparison group on sexual behaviors. CSA victims and nonvictims were compared on sexual distortions, as well as sexual attitudes and behaviors, sexual motivations, adult romantic attachment style, and body image. Results indicated that CSA victims, compared to nonvictims, reported more sex partners, greater sexual variety, and greater use of sex for enhancement, but were not different on sexual distortion variables. CSA characteristics were examined as predictors of sexual distortions. CSA duration, but no other CSA characteristics, significantly predicted dysfunctional sexuality. None of the CSA characteristics examined predicted sexual avoidance or sexual ambivalence. Finally, a path model in which CSA was expected to predict dysfunctional sexuality, sexual avoidance, and sexual ambivalence via motivations for sexual behavior, adult attachment style, and body image was examined. In the final model, having experienced CSA was related to greater sexual ambivalence directly and indirectly via increased use of sex for enhancement. In addition, having experienced CSA was indirectly related to less sexual avoidance via greater use of sex for enhancement. CSA was not directly or indirectly related to dysfunctional sexuality. Anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and use of sex for coping did not mediate the relationship between CSA and sexual distortions, but were directly related to sexual distortion variables.