Sexual Dysfunction Among Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors: The “Functional” Dysfunction?

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Various studies have established the association between child sexual abuse and sexual dysfunction. Although sexual dysfunction can be a distressing and undesirable condition for survivors of child sexual abuse, the current article suggests viewing sexual dysfunction not solely as a negative outcome but as a condition with a potent psychological function in regulating various psychological and relational needs among survivors. The main question addressed in the current paper is: What are the functional aspects of sexual dysfunction among child sexual abuse survivors? Four main protective purposes for sexual dysfunction among survivors of child sexual abuse are proposed: avoiding re-traumatization, regulating closeness within the relationship, gaining a sense of power and control and avoiding vulnerability, and restoring a positive sense of self. Although healthy sexual functioning is a desirable long-term goal for survivors, therapists need to view sexual dysfunction within the context of trauma, and to understand the protective functions of dysfunctions, before attempting to restore sexual function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-705
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sex and Marital Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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