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.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology