Why Can Childhood Sexual Abuse Lead to Promiscuity?

September 4, 2017 Tia Hollowood

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may try to cope with PTSD symptoms by engaging in sexual promiscuity. Here is how one survivor explains why this happens.

At first, the idea that sexual promiscuity can result from childhood sexual abuse seems illogical. Wouldn't someone who suffered sexual abuse have difficulty creating intimate relationships and work to avoid personal contact? While this can often be the case, a review of the research on childhood sexual abuse (from the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, or AAETS) confirms that a large number of survivors engage in promiscuous behaviors, even those who turn away close relationships. Here are some of the reasons why childhood sexual abuse can lead to promiscuity.

The AAETS report also supports the finding that childhood sexual abuse is known to result in a myriad of symptoms including depression, sleep disturbances, poor self-esteem, guilt, shame, dissociative disorders, anxiety, and relationship difficulties. Often these symptoms exist under the umbrella of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In my case, dissociation, shame, and poor self-esteem were the PTSD symptoms I believe led to my promiscuity during my late teens.

Sexual Abuse Survivors Often Equate Promiscuity with Self-Worth

My trauma had ended, but I remained silent about the sexual abuse. In fact, for several years after it ended, I maintained contact with my abuser. The abuse I suffered had been so normalized that I stuffed it away and attempted to minimize it. In fact, my abuse had incorrectly convinced me, that I had to be sexually desirable to have any self-worth.

Promiscuity in Sexual Abuse Survivors Masks Other PTSD Symptoms

Sex became an escape on several levels. It was a dopamine-, serotonin-, endorphin-loaded experience. I did not have to be emotionally attached. I could have the satisfaction of being found attractive, wanted, and worthwhile, while still escaping any controlling relationship or the possibility of abandonment. As a final defense, my reckless encounters could trigger dissociation, which remained my ultimate escape for many years.

My actual symptoms of sexual abuse were still there in all their untreated glory. I eventually realized that I only felt better for short moments at a time. People began to label me and look down on me. My escape began to create more wounds than it could hide. I was becoming even more withdrawn. I needed help.

Replacing Promiscuity with Treatment for Childhood Sexual Abuse and PTSD

It took me a long time to recover from my childhood trauma. Rebuilding a healthy sense of self-worth was a large part of my recovery. I needed help to realize that promiscuity is not a dirty word. Choosing to have numerous consensual partners does not make anyone cheap or morally deficient. What is wrong is shaming someone because they have had sex with multiple partners. At the same time, I needed help to realize that sex without intimacy does not reflect love or affection. We are lovable and worth being around without presenting ourselves as sexually available.

Finally, I needed to learn that promiscuity doesn't cure the symptoms of PTSD caused by childhood sexual abuse. Long-term healing takes time and help. I was afraid to discuss my abuse or my promiscuity with my first few counselors. I wish I had known that a good therapist would not be surprised or judgemental about anyone's trauma or behaviors. When I finally could discuss everything, a tremendous weight began to lift from my shoulders. I needed to tell my entire story to heal.

Promiscuity is a difficult topic to address. I know we heal with each other and strengthen each other by sharing our stories. Please feel free to add to the discussion below. Your email information is private, and I will respond to everyone who comments.


APA Reference
Hollowood, T. (2017, September 4). Why Can Childhood Sexual Abuse Lead to Promiscuity?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Tia Hollowood

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June, 11 2019 at 11:10 pm

First I just wanted to say what happened was Not Your Fault.Secondly, love yourself and others will too.I understand that this is a lot harder to do than say.You just need enough hope for the next day.

February, 9 2019 at 9:28 pm

I was only abused once, at the age of around 9 or 10, by a 16 year old neighbour who still lives next door to my father to this day. I was lucky in that I had a very supportive mother and an attempting father, but the trauma still stayed. I had a few anxiety attacks throughout my teens, intermittent counselling to help with them, but a recent episode means that, ten years on from the incident, I am back in counselling and about to begin EMDR. In the last few months I have become quite promiscuous, and I always thought I owned it but the realisation that it could be part of my trauma scares me - like it’s not something I’m in control of. I do use sex to equate my self worth sometimes, and it could just be my age but I fear it’s this ... hoping the EMDR will help but feel so confused right now. I know there is no way of knowing whether it is just me or my trauma that affects my behaviour but I wish I knew.

February, 8 2019 at 10:57 pm

I was raped by my next door neighbor and his sister when I was 6 they would play sick games with me...they were too young at the time to know what they were doing apparently and never got prosecuted Iv had to grow up having to see them all the time, the boy continued on to rape my little sister when she was four which I caught and he’s raped several girls Iv grown up with! Still never prosecuted!! My little sister is now 18 and is terrified of contact with a male, she’s still never kissed anyone and I ended up going the opposite way... I buried it for years and got into a lot of trouble growing up always wanting to attract older men and always sending pictures of myself to random people...Iv slept around and had others sexually abuse me...I ended up going through a period of party mode abusing drugs and staying out for weeks on end...the only way I feel any kind of love or affection is through sex or sexual acts...I’m 21 this March and I’m on the heaviest antidepressants they can give me, i feel hate and disgust for myself everyday for what has happened..I just want to feel alive again!! Reading your post has helped me to know I’m not alone ???

January, 8 2019 at 11:46 am

The more I open up to my boyfriend the more I wonder if I was sexually abused as a child and I just blocked out that part of my childhood. My memories of my youth is spotty. But I do remember telling stories to my friends about sex as early as 6.
As a young adult I was very promiscuous. Even now as an adult, I have my moments. But lately my sexual request has him asking why. Thankfully he's very patient and understanding. But how would I know if childhood sexual abuse is the reason why if I don't remember.

May, 12 2021 at 5:15 pm

I have no recollection of my childhood either but I was a very promiscuous child starting at age 13 after I was raped by a 19 year old. The weird thing is, my fantasy is about rape. Thays what I think about now while having sex with my partner or even doing it solo. I re live all those moments I was taken advantage of and it turns me on. It is truly disturbing. I don't know why it happens ans it makes me wonder why I don't remember my childhood. I just want to know what happened to me...
I am sending you so much love... its hard to heal from things you cannot remember 💔

February, 1 2022 at 10:15 pm

Wow.. similar I get turned on by rape and abusive sex and its sick I know! I've been molested by my brother for years growing up and lost my virginity by being painfully raped and assaulted several times, which led me to be very promiscuous in my teens and very early 20's and have very little self worth. I found myself asking a man to choke me out sexually to the point I almost passed out and got turned on by it and I find myself watching abusive porn and BDSM. I don't understand why when I hate those experiences. I don't know whats wrong with me.

December, 20 2018 at 10:11 am

I just read an article about a female teacher involved with a 14 year old Male student. She is obviously pedofile. I was 14 when I became sexually active, I had a crush on my music teacher and ended up him bed. I felt shame, it led me to another pedophilia person, who took advantage of me. Sex became a way for me to numb the pain. I never had the idea of how to involve with male in true intimate way, so I continued just having sex, and was my only way to involve with males. I was then raped, I sought justice in all 3 cases. My life revolves around relationships right now. I am rebuilding my healthy self esteem by going to college and raising my two kids. It's hard to not share with my 13 year old daughter. I go to therapy and do it all. It's a long term damage and very shameful to admit and discuss. You have to however with aprofecional until you cry about. That's what will bring up change. Don't be afraid to cry about it to someone trained to understand. Don't be ashamed to admit to a trustworthy therapist. We deserve forgiveness for the damage we have done to ourselves and others participating in our dysfunction. There is healing. Discuss it until you can feel confident to share ever detail and feel the pain and cry it all out. Only then you will feel relieved. Not just by sharing that that happened as a matter of fact.

April, 21 2022 at 7:46 pm

Yes,you do my sister and all you who have been led astray by “The Evilone!”the murderer and a liar from the beginning “Satan the accuser!,Trust ln The Lord Jesus!,who came to seek and to save sinner’s as you and l,who beleved that we could find peace in any other but “GOD!,”The Son The Savior!ln His Name we have life! and life more abundantly.. . Ever,Forevermore.. .Amen,amen.. .

December, 18 2018 at 7:21 pm

So I'm a man, I was sexually abused by my older cousin at age 10 for like a month, he was in his mid teens.
As a 10yo boy I was interested interested in sex and his abuse came at a time of curiosity so I didn't feel abused for a long time, but that started a downward so spiral in promiscuity first looking into porn at a couple weeks later which developed into an addiction, I have gotten over it... kinda, I still watch way too much porn but I learned to balance it in a way it doesn't just suck my life away, started hanging out more, planning my day to do other stuff etc. But at 22 I'm still a virgin and I think the impression of his then gigantic looking phallus really gave me a bad image of myself that only recently I'm starting to overcome thanks to my drawing hobby which makes me study anatomy.
I first started to really feel resentful towards my abuse when I was around 16. By that time a lot of my friends already had girlfriends and in my boredom and free time I had gotten into Underground porn so fucked up is illegal in some places not even for the sake of sexual pleasure but rather to be able to say that I saw it like if it was some kind of medal, so my friends are bragging about fucking their girlfriends and all I can do is shut up, speaking up would be either laughable or disgusting and I realized I had nothing to socialize with.
To make matters worse as she revealed later my mom was sexually abused as a kid, flatout hated it and thinks porn and people who watch regular porn are disgusting, "the talk" with her was as textbook as you can get, so me including the fact that I did not hate my abuse thought she would despise me so I haven't told her until now.
I did abuse my little cousin early after my own abuse and unlike my older cousin I got discovered and punished, blaming my older cousin didn't even came into my head because for my 10yo mind I had liked it and the discovery so I never thought that what my older cousin did was bad.
He actually lives near me, I could literally walk to his home and confront him... but I don't, in the opportunities I've had to do so I can't, no because of fear but because while I feel frustrated, and cheated on... I don't feel angry, I never did, besides I don't think it'll help me solve my problems anymore than I'm doing right now, the other thing is that when I see him I see another man, he has a job and a couple and is happy and including what I just admitted I did do my fair lead of bullshit as a teen yet I don't feel like the same person so I really don't care enough to do so.
And my younger cousin he recovered leaps and bounds ahead of me, that's what really bothers me, he's had girlfriends, social life, entered a career almost at the same time as me and is aiming high, so I'm not mad or anxious or depressed, just confused and cheated: Why was me the one stuck for so long while my abuser and my victim became better people than now I can aim to be.

Terri Dotterer
December, 5 2018 at 3:15 pm

How do you get self worth, self esteem, self anything positive when you don't remember having it or how it feels?

December, 17 2018 at 5:28 am

"Only in Christ have I found relief."
It's not an easy solution it's a committed decision.

Terri Dotterer
December, 5 2018 at 3:09 pm

My name is Terri and I joined the military at a young age of 17. I wanted to feel proud serving my country. During bootcamp I was raped by my drill sergeant and was so afraid I didn't report it. Not long after that at my first duty station I had a man try to rape me and I fought with all my might for what seemed like hours. Throughout my time in the military I was a victim of sexual assault and never reported it because I was a minority, I felt like it was a mans world and reporting it could get me a quick dishonorable discharge. I'm now 54 and through all the years of trying to drink away my past and going through permiscous behavior self destructive behavior, I'm now trying to save the rest of my life even though I feel like it's too late and I'll die alone with no one to love me for me. Maybe there's hope but I do know that serving my country also destroyed me

October, 7 2019 at 8:11 am

Thank you for sharing Terri, it’s very courageous of you.

July, 2 2023 at 3:14 am

I'm so sorry to hear this, if anyone should have no self worth it's the perpetrators, do you feel you could report them now, it's very common for people in positions of trust to abuse it and its disgusting, that they feel they can because of their position. Its a common theme of self destruction, and I really hope you manage to find some happiness and peace

Breana Houseman
April, 17 2024 at 3:59 pm

Terri, If you haven't already, please apply for Veteran's Mental Health Benefits. The rules have relaxed significantly and you should be compensated. Thank you for your service and I'm so sorry for what you went through in serving our country.

November, 20 2018 at 6:44 pm

Hi I am writing this post because I have been engaging in counselling for different issues and the subject of my earliest sexual encounters came up. I spoke to my counsellor about my first sexual encounter which was at thr age of 14 with a family friend who was 35, my counsellor was shocked not only by the fact that a 35 year old was having sex with a 14 year old but the fact that I was so blazè about it and said it as if it was a normal thing. A family friend was at a new years eve party in my parents house there was lots of loud music everyone was drinking it was a good night I was used to my mother's friends telling me how good looking I was and if they were 20 (or 30) years younger they would snap me up it was just something these women said and it was innocent and non sexual so when this certain family friend started saying things like this to me I shrugged them off and just laughed but as we continued to talk it became more apparent to me that she was serious. She had consumed quite a bit of alcohol so I thought maybe it was the alcohol talking she asked for my number and I gave it to her. The next day I had almost forgot about what had happened the night before and just put it to the back of my head until I got a message that afternoon asking how I was I didn't have the number stored on my phone but she confirmed that it was the woman from the night before. We spoke for a bit and she had asked me to come to her apartment that night to talk, I'm not going to lie I was very excited about the idea, anyways I agreed and later that night I was In her apartment she offered me a beer I took it and another one and another one we listened to music she was sat on the kitchen counter I was really nervous then all of a sudden she pulled me toward her and started kissing me she then literally dragged me into the bedroom and undressed me and performed sex acts on me and sat on top of me I was in shock I didn't k ow how to feel it felt so good but I knew it was wrong. After that night we kept in touch and it continued to happen. Over the next number of years, she always told me to keep it between us etc so I did. The thing is it had become so normalised that I didn't see anything wrong with it I enjoyed it so I didnt think it was wrong. It was only after she ended things between us when I was 17 that it hit home that my life had been changed that very first night we had sex because when things ended between me and my abuser i started looking for the same thing I started being very promiscuous sleeping with as many people as I could I always need to be desirable sexualky to someone because if I wasn't I felt terrible about myself I had very low self esteem that only sex could make me feel good about myself. I would of had sex with anyone I didn't necessarily care what they looked like I didn't have feelings etc etc it was just the act of sex no strings attached sex I found it hard having relationships I always managed to fuck them up I was very emotionally damaged and I brought that into every relationship I have ever been in. I was always looking to push boundaries always wanting more I even sought out other men even though I wouldn't consider my self gay or even bi (but clearly I must be right,) I would meet up with men please them and then leave no names no swapping numbers just do the job and then onto the next one. I have always had serious problems with being faithful with women I've been in relationships with and I think that stems from my early sexual experiences I was to young then to experience what I did sexualky and it has totally warped my idea of sex. My girlfriend has recently found out about my past and more like my present I had been messaging people both men and women I met up with some of them and I have always wondered why I do the things I do why I seem to be so sexual so selfish so confused I am just wondering does this make sense can my adult sexual escapades really be that affected by what happened to me when I was 14? Also the woman in question didn't have sex with me against my wishes I willingly had sex with her does that in any way diminish the fact that I was actually abused? I mean because I did enjoy it so maybe it wasn't abuse? I have always felt that there was something wrong with me something inside me that's not right I would just like some advice on whether or not what I said could have effected me in later life thanks

November, 21 2018 at 8:55 pm

First I want to tell you that I'm very sorry for what happened to you. That woman was wrong on every level, and yes, it makes total sense that what happened to you at 14 affects you today. I understand all too well how you can second guess if it was abuse because you enjoyed it or sought it out. I have often felt the same way, but the thing is, as kids (and yes, at 14, you were a kid) we think we have some great power because we attracted someone much older, but the sad truth is, we never had the power. That woman took advantage of you.
I am in no way a therapist, but I am the survivor of sexual abuse and work with survivors and will tell you that yes, what happened to you was abuse and most likely does affect your perspective about sex today. That relationship taught you sex was love and sex gives you value, so your young brain connected the two.
I'm glad to hear you're in therapy. I can so related to that feeling of always thinking something is wrong inside. I lived my whole life feeling that way until I finally sought help and now I can see the truth of what happened to me. The good news is with help, you will begin to understand the impact of what happened to you on your life now and you will learn to value yourself so that you approach sex with a whole new perspective.

Tia Hollowood
October, 7 2018 at 4:50 pm

Donna, thank you for sharing. Our stories are similar in that we were abused by “family” from a very young age, and not believed. I never reported, but I know my abusers are no longer a threat to anyone (one is dead). If I thought otherwise I would report as well.

October, 7 2018 at 7:57 am

Me too. I want to be part of this site.

October, 3 2018 at 4:18 pm

I was abused from the age of 7 until 15 by my older step brother
it happened so many times. When a neighbor reported to my parents that something was going on and heard me screaming for help, he was believed when he told them it was just horsing around. I was grounded for a week for screaming and bothering the neighbors. I tried to fight back another time but was choked unconscious, after that I stopped fighting back, it became my normal. I was constantly being told he was the good one, and he told me I would never be believed. I knew this was true and he had already proven it.
I hit puberty at 12 and was impregnated, forced to lie to my parents under the threat of violence then forced to have an abortion. I never told the truth to my parents or other family members. (still haven’t). i actually overheard a my Step mother on the phone refer to as a harlot. so that is what i became! By 17 I did drugs, danced at strip clubs, and hung out with bikers. I let guys do whatever they wanted to do with me. One night at a biker club party they passed me around to several of the club members. I didn’t even try to run away, I just accepted that this is what was expected of me.
Eventually i got married and had kids so I could be a “normal” person but I married a cheating jerk and became even more depressed and withdrawn. Not promiscuous. but severely depressed.
At 22 i sought therapy for suicidal thoughts and attempts, and severe depression. The therapist told me that if it happened that much then it was consensual. SERIOUSLY! She then continued to further humiliate me by telling me it was not rape it was incest. (never saw her again).
SO I had zero self-worth, I had survived but i never really lived. Raising my kids was my only purpose, and my only joy. In my late 30’s I talked to a different therapist and just threw it all out on the table, she listened and did not judge, SHE LISTENED TO ME. She suggested I start seeing a psych doc for major depression. When I finally had the right meds, and the right therapist, I finally felt like a person. i Went to school and earned a degree in Psychology, got rid of the jerk husband an so on. BTW my kids turned out AWESOME!
Well I am 50 something now and I still have not “come forward” I have been able to tell some of my closest friends and a few in my family.
I really fooled myself into thinking I was past it, but… lately with all the political bullshit it seems to be haunting me again. For ME I still can’t “come forward” because some of my family members will believe I am just making it up, or even worse they will blame me. I know that sounds crazy, but they really will.
To be very clear If he was in the process of being nominated for the supreme court, I would come out. But for now, I will continue to remain quiet and take at least a little solace in knowing that he is a miserable person with a miserable life.

September, 17 2018 at 5:21 pm

I was abused from the age of 8 until 13 by an older cousin. I told my mom but since he lived with my grandparents I saw him every time we went to visit. I did get married but was not able to completely control the promiscuity. My husband and I went for counselling and I finally was able to talk about what had happened when I was in my mid 30's. Unfortunately my husband didn't believe that promiscuity could be a result of childhood sexual abuse. He never understood and continued to blame me, pulling away from me which just made things that much worse for me. I stayed in what was essentially an emotionally abusive marriage for 33 years, then when I was no longer able to work full time (I knew that to him the money I was able to earn was more important than the person I was), he left me when I was 55 years old. I am now 70 and alone but happier both with my life and the person I am than I have been in many years. It takes a long time to work through these things but coming out the other side stronger and happier is well worth it.

Tia Hollowood
August, 22 2018 at 11:54 pm

I was reading just today, that healing from trauma is a bit like a roller coaster. There are ups and downs but the only way through to "even ground" is to pass through them.
I think this is important because we place a great deal of pressure on ourselves to be healed. For me, that pressure makes everything else that much worse.
I'm sorry to hear that you are also dealing with a physical illness. I'm wondering if you've given thought to an online support group for physical health and/or mental health? There are several here:
Most importantly, when we suffer, we need help. That's not weakness, it's reality. You're not alone.

August, 22 2018 at 4:44 pm

I think their is something wrong with me, I was sexually abused at 3, I cant remember the man as i was so young, I was sexually abused by a different man on several occasions for 2 years, at the age of 10, I was raped by a man at 13, I was raped by my first partner and finally I was raped by a guy who lived local to me at the age of 26, yes I am now promiscuous, I think men only love me if I have sex with them, but what bothers me more is did my mum encourage my childhood sexual abuse, my mum physically abused me. Lately, because I have been struck down with a disability at the age of 49, I have been finished on ill health, I have too much thinking time, I’m self harming more than I have ever in the past, I feel so low and don’t know how to deal with all this pain in my head. ??

April, 26 2023 at 10:29 am

Try to find someone who you can talk to about everything youre feeling. Someone trustful

August, 14 2018 at 2:27 pm

I have been a rape victim, once from my boss and repeated assaults from my ex. I then had three failed relationships where all three rejected me, but just confined to sex!
I have had sex with so many men after that. I don't know why I do that, but I just do. I do everything that is risky.
My life has changed a lot. I don't like working with people, but I am forced to as I gotta take care of myself. I binge drink and have random partner, many times, don't even remember the incident.
Therapy never helped.. I dunno how long it would take for me to heal. Am 37 now and even marriage scares me..

Tia Hollowood
August, 3 2018 at 8:58 pm

You are definitely not alone. I still wonder if anyone thinks I'm doing a good job even though deep inside my rational brain I know the answer.

August, 3 2018 at 3:15 pm

Hi, I was sexually abused from age 4-11, witnessed a rape, and was sexually abused by a friends stepfather along with my friend at age 11 as well. I lost my virginity to an 18 year old guy at age 14 and was promiscuous from that time on; always saying yes to making out, fondling, and later on in my twenties, having multiple sexual partners. I even cheated on a fiancé and lost that relationship. Now I am 36, with a new son and am married to a wonderful man with whom I also initially had a mostly sexual relationship with,but we managed to keep our relationship going and are now married. I tried to seek help once at age 11. I told a friend, who told her mother, who then went to my school. The school arranged for a social worker to come and talk to me, but I became physically ill the day of, and stayed home. They were able to cancel and reschedule and the next time the exact same thing happened. I think I was terrified of the idea of being taken away from my mother and brothers ( my dad was my abuser). My mom took me to the doctor while I was there, I begged her to let me go to school, but she turned to me with the most angry look on her face and told me no, she was keeping me home. The school was unable to cancel in time the second time around and I was scolded by my teacher ( a male) who told me that if I couldn’t even show up for this, that I must have been lying. My face turned bright red and it was the most humiliating experience I had ever had, and it made me feel like I deserved anything bad that came my way. The one “good” thing that came of this is that the sexual abuse stopped after this because I think my mom somehow found out about this meeting at school, which is why she didn’t want me to go. To this day I have struggled with low self esteem, depression, anger,anxiety, ocd behaviors and have never felt good enough. I am educated with a good job, and work with many highly intelligent individuals around whom I never feel like an equal. I feel as if people can see right through me and think that I am less than them. I underwent talk therapy for a year but I didn’t click with my therapist and she was much more focused on current issues than past, so I never tried again. Anyway, seeing all these posts have made me feel like my feelings of shame and guilt are not so abnormal. I just wish I could erase this lifelong pain and feeling of not being worthy.

November, 8 2023 at 1:49 pm

Look for a psychoanalyst. For psychoanalysis, the past of our lives says a lot about who we are and choose to be. It takes time, but it is one of the best therapies for deep issues (traumatic issues).

July, 31 2018 at 4:19 am

Thank all of y’all for sharing. I was also sexually abused at age 5 or 6 by my stepfather by being exposed to pornography more than once. My mother also dressed in skimpy lingerie and I was constantly exposed to sexual jokes, pictures, etc. my mother and stepdad were/are alcoholics and always had their friends over to have parties. I do not know if I had ever been sexually abused physically as a child or not. As a teen I was promiscuous and drifted into the “bad” crowd. This led to drinking & drugs. This also led to being raped multiple times and most of these I never fought back. I just wanted it over or thought if I fought back I could get beaten or killed. One time I smarted off to a guy and he raped me anally. Before than I smarted off to my then boyfriend and he drug me out of my car & heldme hostage for the night. I had no one to tell or call for help. Before all of the rape, I became pregnant at 15, lost the baby. My mother was embarrassed and before I lost the baby she wanted me to have an abortion but I said no. After I lost the baby she put me on birth control so she wouldn’t have to worry about me getting pregnant again.
After being married 15 years, all my past came out and led to me realizing i had been sexually abused as a child. The abuse plus my sexually explicit upbringing led to the promiscuity and rape. Both my husband and I now battle depression. He fights not knowing who he married but still loves me. I fight hating myself for him hurting and who I was before him. I also did not truly love him until my abuse was revealed. We are both sad and angry. I’m scared our marriage won’t mske it through this. I’m just so sad all the time.

Resilient Lady
July, 22 2018 at 8:47 pm

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse from 11-13. Being exposed to sex made me more obsessed with sex. As an adult woman now, I have hated how some people stereotype adult survivors are sex-repulsed. I wish people understood that many of us become hypersexual. Please don’t expect all survivors to be the same. I am at the point where I don’t want to discuss my trauma anymore. I found people’s reactions and stereotypes to be more traumatizing. It’s frustrating to defend my sexuality to people.
I would love to meet more survivors who were hypersexual, or who didn’t have their sexuality this impacted at all. I went from a promiscuous teenager to being in a happy and monogamous relationship. I never could identify with having low desire. I feel so alone with my thoughts. All I know is that I have always been sexual, regardless of CSA happening.

February, 5 2023 at 8:31 am

Although this reply is 5 years later...this is exactly how I feel. I was abused from age 6-10 by an older cousin. I find now that it's impossible for me to be monogamous. After a certain period of time I can no longer have sex with partner, when we get too close it feels incestuous. I'm ruining a good relationship right now because I've cheated. It feels like it will never end.

June, 29 2018 at 3:32 am

I have struggled to live and lead a healthy lifestyle my entire life. The abuse start at birth, molestation and early sexualization was my childhood and then rape happened in high school. It has been a grueling and difficult journey to heal and make peace with all the Trauma and bad choices that came from the abuse. To this day I struggle to keep a job or know what direction to go. PTSD,Major depression,RTS,anxiety disorder,borderline personality, all the labels Ive been given but not able to get disability or a service dog. Help seems obsolete. Ive had many therapists since age 12 and still cant take total care of myself. My family is not supportive and men are toxic to me. Church helps for a minute but does not see me through. Im just at a crossroads and am losing hope.

June, 19 2018 at 12:28 pm

Johnny, thanks for sharing. What a difficult time for your family. I don't have an answer but I do have my story. I displayed very similar symptoms when I experienced my last fugue. People around me thought I was just being a jerk, but I was not even being me.
I don't even recall much of it myself. It took an intervention on the part of my friends to get me help and become stable.
I hope you consider that there is a possibility the woman you love is still there, and that she is buried under whatever has triggered her.
I was married for over 20 years before experiencing my most recent fugue.
That's the way PTSD is. It sneaks up and grabs you. It wipes away reason.
I would encourage single and couples therapy from someone experienced with PTSD and dissociation. I wish you the very best.

June, 18 2018 at 10:11 am

Dear Tia,
I am married to a beautiful woman who has given me 3 wonderful children. Unfortunately, something has happened to our intimacy. She tells me that she is very secure in the knowledge that I love her and she has told me that my love for her is much greater than her love for me. She has told me that she was indeed very promiscuous before marrying me, due largely to early childhood abuse. We recently fought after she began to arrive late and disappear for hours at a time. Though she has not admitted to being unfaithful, I fear she has, but I do lover her so.
After deep contemplation, I concluded that she simply no longer loved me nor wished to be with me, but instead with someone else. I asked for a divorce to which she agreed, but never would she take the next step. I finally, angrily demanded that she tell me what was wrong. She broke down and told me that she did have desires to be with other men. She did not want to be in another relationship, but felt a need to have dissociated sexual contact with random men, regardless of ethnicity, age, or even physical appearance. She claimed that she has yet to act on these sexual impulses, but said that she feared that once divorced she would return to sleeping with random men. She said that she still loved me deeply, but could not explain why our intimacy was so difficult. All she could tell me is that she felt unworthy of me.
I myself have dealt with a great deal of emotional pain through out my early life and have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I am a combat veteran and have have reacted violently while in states of depression. I have sought out help and am seeing a psychiatrist. This is probably the only reason why we are still together. I feel it in my bones that she has been with another man, but I love her and my children adore her. What can I do and what should I do?

June, 7 2018 at 12:33 pm

Dear Tia
Thanks so much for sharing your story. Your words helped me understand why I became promiscuous as an adult. I did have sexual abuse in childhood and as a teenager. One of the most difficult things for me is that my friends of many years became very judgemental of me and my past when i got upset with one of them for judging me over a different issue in my life. When that happened they all took the other persons side and began to (although I can't prove it ) make all sorts of behind my back comments. I didn't know and still don't know what they said but I believe from their attitudes and what they knew about my past that they discussed what an awful lifestyle I had lived and then they accused me of being a homosexual which is based on absolutely nothing. I have never been able to be friends with them again though at one time they offered, I just remained unable and unwilling to trust any of them again. M

May, 30 2018 at 4:06 pm

I was sexually abused by two of my brothers growing up, then by multiple men during my teenage years ... I never got a childhood ... Which led to a lot of sexual promiscuity and too many broken relationships and a lot of abuse ... I'm 51 now and finally in trauma therapy and trauma groups for all of this ... I'm slowly healing ... Maybe one day I'll be okay ... Maybe one day I can trust again ....

May, 1 2018 at 1:11 pm

Revised comment:
I was abused by multiple family members as a young child, starting at age 5. At age 8, I was attacked and raped by a man whose identity still remains a mystery to me. At age 13, I found myself in a physically abusive, later on sexually abusive, relationship with a boy a few years older than me. A couple of years passed and I left that relationship, finding myself in group homes, one of which I was raped once more. Myself, and many of the other girls at the group home, were subjected to sexual abuse and harassment, constantly witnessing the abuse of others while we remained silent in fear that we would be next. After six months, I was placed back home with my parents and began a long distant relationship with a boy a year older in another state. Upon meeting him for the first time, he too sexual abused me, however, I don’t think he intended to. That’s just how it felt to me because I never gave my consent for the things he did. At 16, I lost my virginity on my own accord to a boy I had been speaking to for only a few shorts weeks and from then on until age 20, I found myself sleeping with person after person. I had this theory in my head that if I could give away what I knew everyone wanted from me before they had the chance to take it, I would never had to relive my traumas again and I was in control of my body. It was very lonely, to say the very least. I never told anyone the full extent of my abuse or promiscuity. At age 20, I met a man who is now my husband and I kept most of my abuse and past sexual endeavors a secret. He had only been with two others before me, and I fed him a lie that made me seem almost saint-like as far as sexuality goes. Ashamed of my own sexual past, lacking confidence in my self-worth and value, and this newfound jealousy at the thought of the man I love with others fueled this destructive behavior to constantly scold and belittle him over his measly two former sexual partners. 7 and a half years into the marriage, I found it harder to escape my past and keep up with the lies I had told to sustain a prim and proper reputation. I told my husband everything. Obviously, our marriage fell on some hard times and I turned to alcohol as a means of coping. He still struggles with understanding why a person with such an extensive history of sexual abuse would willingly put herself in multiple sexual situations. I felt that I had very few resources to answer his questions and ease his fears, because it was a thought that I had struggled with for a long time myself. It didn’t make sense to me why I had engaged in hypersexuality when I was a long time victim of sexual abuse. It made me feel dirty and broken. He and I have been working tirelessly to mend our marriage and regain trust for one another. I have since abandoned my alcohol abuse and I am coming up on 90 days sober. Still, I felt this confusion about my past actions and experiences. I woke up this morning, telling myself that it can’t be all the uncommon for a sexual abuse victim and survivor to walk down the road of promiscuity. It must make sense to at least one person that promiscuity could be used as a coping mechanism, a means to control a very feared and possible outcome. Reading your article has helped me understand myself a bit more, and has allowed me to shed a little bit of the guilt I feel about my past.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2018 at 11:51 pm

Hello Anne. Its not at all uncommon. I have read many reasons people give, but promiscuity is the one common thread. I know it seems to make me feel desirable. Maybe gave me a sense of power as I could single a guy out, have a good time drinking & dancing then share a night. Unfortunately, it was also self defeating. I felt more and more guilt and shame and dirtiness. It lead me down a slippery slope that took years to begin to recognize what was happening, and start my climb back out.
I just finished a book called "The Way I Used To Be" by Amber Smith. A young lady was raped and headed for a spiral of destruction over a handful of years. Finally, the truth came out...poignant. So close to my story.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 2 2022 at 9:22 am

Hi Anne, Wow! very similar situation.. were you guys every able to mend your marriage?? I've recently lost my fiancé because of this. Long story short; I lost my biological mother to drug overdose was adopted then grew up being molested by my biological brother from (9-12) then was raped by his close friend thats how I lost my virginity it was painful and forceful (14) which then led me to have little to no self worth or trust I was very promiscuous in my teens and early 20's. I got so low that I was hooked on drugs for a while and even sold myself once.. yeah I know wtf! No one knew about that part but my fiancé and when he found that out and as I opened up about my sexual past he couldn't take it.. he thought my promiscuity was my choice that I was adult and chose to do all that. He was disgusted with me and couldn't believe he fell for a woman like me. Every time he just wanted to get some clarity about certain experiences I would shut down and have crazy anxiety.. which led him to believe it had to be worse than what he thought because I wouldn't speak about. It ate him up and he got to his lowest because he could talk to anyone about my behavior. He recently called it off and says he's disgusted with me. I insist I am not that woman anymore and just didn't realize my worth.. it wasn't until I got with him that I realized sex is not just an act its sacred and supposed to be out of love and beautiful but it was too late then.. the damaged has been done and I don't know what I can do to get him back he knows too much and says it broke his ego and manhood. I am now finally seeking help and therapy.

February, 10 2022 at 4:08 am

Please move on he’s not the one for you, let him go.
It is his right to not like women with a promiscuous past, but to judge you and to say he feels disgusted by you is just heartbreaking and wrong.
He’s selfish talking about his ego and manhood.
The right man will love you for who you are, understand and educate himself on the fact that your past behavior is a normal way of coping with unresolved trauma, and that we are millions to have walked that path. We should never be ashamed or made feel ashamed about a behavior we couldn’t control.
I wish you a good healing process through therapy, and a wonderful future husband.

April, 21 2022 at 6:53 pm

Hi Sport, just wanted you to know sister is right,l’m speaking as a guy ::: l’m reading your letter’s because l’m at his time trying to understand a very dear girl l have become friend’s with,l myself have had only one intimate relationship w/a girl 17 ,when l was 20 and have no sisters so l’ve never understood,she had sex before me,and just wanted more after several month’s w/me,and it broke my heart and never really recovered,but l still hold to putting a man and woman coming together as a spiritual union and it breaks my heart today that l’m older now,and am learning how many young girl’s as a child,have been abused sexually,but l just wante to tell you ,that it wasn’t your fault that all hat happened to to,at such a young and tender age,you don’t understand adult’s and sexuality,and even as a teenager as lhad experienced your still trying to sort out your feeling’s and sexuality,and a guy doe’s such an evil thing to you and tell’s you it’s ok,and worse yet threaten’s you as a way to keep you in his clutch’s,but when your’e so young and especially as a teen and coming into womanhood,it might get more confusing as you said because the physical gratifying feeling of sex get’s mixed up w/love and belonging as you are special ,and deserve a chance to make thing’s right,and for anyone!to come along and past judgment on you is absolutely wrong!Who are they to condemn another for no one is perfect ,we all have flaw’s and do wrong even if no intentional,So don’t you worry about people of that sort,and you will meet a man worthy of all you are,it take’s a very special kind of woman to be exposing,and making yourself vulnerable in this way,God Bless you w/a good man.. .

April, 4 2018 at 10:38 pm

My wife was sexually abused as a little girl by her mom's now ex-boyfriend. I did not know this when we were dating but her actions of having sex with people that she did not have any emotional attachment too before me was of great concern. She would often have highs of being elated to lows of being depressed and her PCP gave her wellbutrin for depression. It was not working at all and she later told me that she had to masturbate several times a day sometimes even after a lengthy sex session while I was asleep. It progressed to wild and scary sexual fantasies and group sex and I ignored it and for years she went through this emotional high and lows. Lately I had found out that she was having sex with random men or friends at work who she later told be who she hated, were disgusting and still had sex if they called her to come over to talk stories a lot of times when I was at work and sometimes at her working place. We have since separated and she goes through periods where she doesn't even think about the kids at all and detached emotion from them to going into crying spells because she misses them. She still have these sexual fantasies some of which are dangerously risking her life. She goes through bouts where she'll sit and rock back and forth while toughing a silk item against her lips and sometimes between her fingers and this all got worse after her estranged father passed away to the point that I don't know her anymore. She'll cry that she wants me back and minutes later says that she doesn't want to be around me. I don't want her back but our kids need their mom. She agreed to seek counseling and swear off her promiscuous acts until she can figure out what is happening to her. Could this be from her being sexually abused and made worse by the trauma of losing her dad?

Karen Keating
March, 15 2018 at 9:02 am

Thanks so much for sharing this. I survived a very traumatic childhood, but am almost fifty-one years old. I carry all of the memories with me. It's very strange and hard to explain to anyone who doesn't live with PTSD. Everyday is a struggle, but I do my very best to engage in healthy behaviors. Yoga, riding my bike, photography. Thanks again for writing about a topic that so few want to honestly address! I have a twelve year old son. When I falter or lapse into thinking that I want to end my pain, I think of what legacy that would leave for him...

March, 12 2018 at 7:22 pm

Hi Tia. I'm not sure you're going to see this. Any advice for me. My best friend was raped when she was fourteen. She's been very promiscuous ever since. Multiple fiancee and several abortions. Any ideas on how to separate myself from her trauma. She sees nothing wrong with what she's doing. She calls herself a slut. I love her so much as a friend.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 1 2018 at 12:59 pm

Hi there! I suppose it is the Post Traumatic Disorder. I think you should tell her how beautiful life can be. Should encourage her to go to a counselor. If you could go along that would be much better. All the best

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2018 at 11:39 pm

I just finished a book (all in one day, but first few pages were hard to get through).
"The Way I Used To Be" by Amber Smith was raw and real; the emotions following and the turmoil. Luckily, she had a friend who stuck by her, not without boundaries though.
So very real to what my experiences were. I didn't tell for seven years, then it was only a couple of people. I causes so much confusion!

March, 4 2018 at 1:23 pm

I'm a 63-year-old woman who is adopting my 7-year-old granddaughter. I was sexually abused as a child by both a brother and step-dad, became a mother and a widow when I was 22. Spent the next 20 years going from relationship to relationship, job to job, house to house, with my son in tow. Now he's 40 years old and an addict in in prison. I'm having trouble drawing a line between his choices and my influence on him as a mother. It's very distressful.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 3 2018 at 8:59 am

I think it’s fair to your son to acknowledge that some of your choices as a mother may have had a negative impact on him but I also think it’s fair to you that your son acknowledges that his choices are his own at the end of the day. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs, and that job comes with having to acknowledge and accept responsibility for your actions as a parent, and the impact those actions have had on your child, whether positive or negative. In doing so, you’ll also be teaching your son to do the same, as a parent himself, as a son, as a person. The line that you draw between your actions and his can be very simple. You did the things you did on your own accord, as did he.

Sharon darcy
February, 22 2018 at 2:58 pm

I dont know if this is childhood sexual abuse or not ? When i was 5 a neighbour took me and my friend down the river and he stripped naked and did a hand stand with an erection and i knew it was wrong and never went with him again. I thought it was my fault and tried to tell my mum but she didnt really listen. Then when i was about 8 i was sitting in a back of a car on my mums lap and the driver was another neighbour and my mum told me not to leave her on her own in the car. Then the man started rubbing her legs and i didnt like it so i put my legs on top of hers and he started saying i was jealous and started rubbing my legs and my mum never stopped him. On top of. This my dad was an abusive alcoholic to my mum and said vile sexual obbsenities to her. Anyway i grew up and had many promiscious episodes in my life and have severe intrusive thoughts. Was this abuse

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