Tag Archives: abuse and sexuality

Lovelorn, Part 2

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

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 [1].

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 [2].  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

11 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Carnality

Walt Whitman, c. 1860, Author Matthew Brady, Source Library of Congress  (PD-Age)

“The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred, No matter who it is, it is sacred…”

–        Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

The great American poet, Walt Whitman, was roundly criticized for publishing those words.  Whitman’s landmark Leaves of Grass, the book containing “I Sing the Body Electric”, was initially ignored by the public then viewed as controversial.  The poem – dealing as it does with the human body – was labeled obscene [1].

Whitman celebrates the body, in all its physicality – the stomach, the lungs, the bones and marrow, the heart, the bowels, and the rest.  The poet speaks of apprentices, laborers, farmers, firemen…even slaves.  He praises infants, girls and boys, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons.

What Whitman concludes is that the body is an expression of the soul.  “And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?” he asks.

The question is worth considering.

A Temptation to Sin

“You don’t have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body.”

–        Gnostic heresy [2]

Christians often view the body as a temptation to sin and nothing more.  In this view, the body is a sort of overcoat to be used, beaten into submission, then discarded.

Abuse victims understand that outlook far too well.  Often, we despise our bodies.  In an effort to distance ourselves from the abuse, we distance ourselves emotionally from the flesh which was subjected to such pain and humiliation.

Emotional distance becomes our refuge.  We hide our bodies in drab and shapeless clothing; disguise them in layers of fat; or cut them as punishment for the unforgivable crime of serving as targets for our abuse.

Abuse and Sexuality

Because of that alienation, it can be extremely difficult for child abuse victims to reconnect to their sexuality, as adults.  Some of us never do.  We carry that secret shame as long as we live – a “defect” for which we feel somehow responsible, though it is as much a scar of our abuse as any other. Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse