Childhood Sexual Abuse and Sexual Motivations–The Role of Dissociation

Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan, Yael Lahav

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12 Scopus citations


The present study sought to examine the relations between a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and sexual motivations and to explore the moderating role of dissociation within these relations. The study was conducted among 889 men and women (ages 18–70). Results indicated a history of CSA was significantly related to higher scores on self-affirmation, coping, partner approval and peer pressure sexual motivations. Interactions between CSA and gender in explaining sexual motivations, were not significant. Among participants with a history of CSA (n = 365), dissociation was significantly related to sexual motivations, so that participants who had dissociation scores above the cutoff (reporting high levels of dissociation) scored higher on intimacy, self-affirmation, coping, and partner approval than did those with a history of CSA who reported low levels of dissociation. Analyzes revealed significant moderating effects for dissociation within the relations between CSA and intimacy, coping, and partner approval sexual motivations. The present study suggests CSA survivors and those who report high levels of dissociation in particular, utilize sex for intimacy, for coping with negative emotions, and for partner approval. Therapists working with CSA survivors should be aware of the potential effects the abuse has on the survivor’s reasons to engage in sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1160
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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© 2020 The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.


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