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Lack of sexual desire and arousal in adult women survivors of childhood sexual abuse

27 July 1993


The most recent empirical and qualitative studies indicate that at least one-half of adult heterosexual women survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience sexual dysfunctions due to their abuse histories. As few as 42% to as many as 88% of these sexual dysfunctions are in the first phase of the sexual response cycle (Le., sexual desire and arousal). All of these studies are mostly atheoretical and utilize a traditional performance model to analyze and interpret this data. It is proposed that this traditional framework may be too narrow a perspective of the sexual dysfunctions and the underlying psychosexual adjustment problems of the adult heterosexual woman survivor. A more integrative model of female sexuality is proposed that includes not only sexual functioning but sexual self-image, psychosexual functioning, and influential external stimuli. Directions for future research and practice guidelines are suggested.


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