No child is morally culpable for having been sexually violated.
Tragically, child abuse can have a significant impact on sexual identity (the gender with which victims identify), sexual orientation (the gender to which victims are attracted), and sexuality (victims’ capacity for sexual feelings).
Unfortunately, whether out of modesty or embarrassment, Christians may find it difficult to discuss sex. This difficulty is compounded for abuse victims.
Sexual Identity/Sexual Orientation
That the trauma of child molestation can impact sexual identity and sexual orientation makes intuitive sense.
As children, we can do little to vent the confusion, fear, shame, and rage abuse causes us. At a deep level, we either adopt the manner and attitudes of our abuser or reject them. The decision is not an intellectual one. It is a matter of survival .
This is not to suggest that all victims of childhood sexual abuse are impacted sexually. Nor is it to suggest that child molestation is the only factor impacting sex and sexuality.
Sexual Addiction (Pornography)
The victims of childhood sexual abuse tend to take one of two paths: sexual addiction or sexual aversion. Again, this is a generalization only. Each individual is unique.
An interest in sex is, by itself, normal and healthy. Sexual addiction is, by contrast, a compulsion to engage in sex.
In the context of abuse, sexual addiction is a desperate search for love and value, often confused with lax morals. It is the futile attempt to fill a gaping emptiness inside with substitutes for intimacy.
However – and this is important – sexual addiction can, also, result from bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or borderline personality disorder.
There is a distinction between sexual addiction and pornography addiction . Sex addicts crave partners; pornography addicts can satisfy their urges without a partner (for example, by using an x-rated video). Sex addicts are more likely to be social; pornography addicts, more likely to be reclusive.
Pornography addicts may prefer the glossy perfection of an unresponsive image to the reality of a responsive partner. Live partners require time and attention. Centerfolds do not. Live partners are flawed, and likely to discover the flaws in the addict. With a video or magazine, the pornography addict is not confronted by his/her own shortcomings.
Sexual aversion is the persistent avoidance of sexual contact with a partner . This is accompanied by fear, revulsion, and/or a lack of desire. Aversion to the act of intercourse may or may not include aversion to kissing, hugging, and necking/petting.
Sexual aversion (once pejoratively termed “fridigity”) can effect men, as well as women. It should be distinguished from the temporary loss of desire which may occur following the birth of a child, during menopause, or from stress and fatigue.
Sexual aversion does not imply an abuse victim is incapable of feeling love. Unrequited love – with all the pain and frustrated longing it entails – is, in some ways, “ideal” for those suffering from sexual aversion. Providing the illusion of a relationship, unrequited love allows for intense emotion and desire, without requiring physical expression.
God’s Love and Intimacy
Where does God come into all this? Or does He? Are sex and sexuality simply gritty aspects of being human in a flawed world?
As our Creator, God knows us at a profound level – a level beyond even the sexual. When we take our pain and heartache to Him, God is able to respond as no human being can. He is capable of filling our emptiness, and healing our wounds.
God may involve others, in this process. Though His role is paramount, there are countless physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors trained to deal with abuse. Friends and loved ones can, also, play a vital part.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (John 4: 7).
 Trauma bonding is discussed at: Psychopathy Awareness, “When You Love Your Abuser: Stockholm Syndrome and Trauma Bonds”, https://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/when-you-love-your-abuser-stockholm-syndrome-and-trauma-bonds/.
 Addiction Hope, “What Are the Differences Between Sex Addiction and Pornography Addiction?”, 6/1/16, https://www.addictionhope.com/blog/differences-sex-addiction-porn-addiction/.
 Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, “Sexual aversion disorder”, http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Sexual-aversion-disorder.html.
Abuse and relationships were discussed last week in Lovelorn, Part 1
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