Sexual Abuse Over Lifetime Can Have Cumulative Effect on Hypersexuality, Especially for Men
Sexual abuse at any age may predict hypersexuality in both men and women, researchers report in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. However, the association is stronger in men who have experienced abuse as children and adolescents/adults.
Hypersexual individuals experience sexual urges and behaviors that are difficult to control, causing great distress. Sexual thoughts and actions may be so frequent and intense that they interfere with a person’s ability to work and manage everyday life. Relationships often suffer. Risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected intercourse, are common. (Note: Hypersexuality is sometimes called compulsive sexual behavior or sex addiction.)
Previous research has shown associations between sexual abuse and hypersexuality, but less is known about the effects of gender on this relationship.
For this study, researchers had 16,823 Hungarian adults between the ages of 18 and 76 complete an online questionnaire on the participants’ history of sexual abuse, hypersexual behavior, and sexual functioning.
About two-thirds of the sample was male. A third of the respondents was female, and less than 1% did not report a specific gender. Approximately 84% were heterosexual; the rest identified as non-heterosexual. Roughly 71% were either married or in a relationship.
The respondents with a history of sexual abuse were divided into three categories based on age at the time of abuse:
- About 7% of the entire group (6% of men and 9% of women) reported childhood sexual abuse occurring at age 13 or younger, with no abuse occurring later in life (CSA group).
- About 20% of the entire group (14% of men and 32% of women) had experienced sexual abuse as adolescents age 14 and older or as adults. None of the participants in this group reported sexual abuse during childhood (AASA group).
- Almost 10% of the entire group (4% of men and 21% of women) said they had been abused during childhood and at a time when they were age 14 or older (CSA/AASA group).
The researchers found that for both men and women, hypersexuality was associated with sexual abuse at any point in the participants’ lives. However, in the CSA/AASA group, the relationship was stronger for men.
“Sexual abuse throughout one’s lifetime might have a cumulative impact on hypersexuality, especially among men,” the authors wrote. They recommended that healthcare providers consider gender when working with patients with hypersexuality who have been sexually abused.
Several limitations were noted. For example, it was not known whether any of the participants were treated for sexual abuse, and no distinction was made between contact and non-contact offenses.
- The Journal of Sexual Medicine - “Gender-Related Differences in Associations Between Sexual Abuse and Hypersexuality”
Slavin, Melissa N., PhD, et al.
(Full-text. Published: August 10, 2020)