A single red tea rose, Author Brandy Cross (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
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. Continue reading →