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 13 from

Author: Tia Hollowood

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September, 4 2017 at 6:02 pm

This article could be written about me ! Was sexuallly abused from age 3-12 , blocked out my childhood. Then lived a life filled with promiscuity, multiple addictions, and an inability to form relationships. Did not receive and sort of help until age 43. Was then diagnosed with PTSD and DID. It is a long process of recovery but I am working hard at it ! Thanks for sharing your story.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 4 2017 at 9:06 pm

Geri thank you for sharing. I wonder how common it is to go undiagnosed for decades. I was in my thirties before it all started falling together. You are right, it is hard work. Glad to hear you are recovering.

July, 16 2018 at 7:10 am

Wow. This is just me at the moment. The short term feeling of acceptance and desirable or lovable doesn't mask the self-hatred that I feel afterwards anymore and end up feeling even worse to allow my body to just be used. Sex is enjoyable but dirty.
I really need help. I have been feeling more and more out of control and I guess all the signs are really at their ultimate high. I need help.

October, 4 2018 at 12:57 pm

Thank you so much. That was my life.

January, 2 2019 at 11:35 am

I am 68 and lost my husband recently. Going through this has brought so many issues to the forefront. I was raped with sticks by my 12 year old brother. My young life included other less viscous sexual assaults. Then at 14, i was knocked out and raped by my boyfriend, who I continued to see. He moved away and I became promiscuous. I had sex with over 80 boys and men over my pre-married life. My husband and I had a horrible life. He was emotionally distant. After 20 years I started it up again. I had a best friend who was just like me. My marriage was now failing. We sought help and I was told he wouldn't change his cold demeanor. He never wanted sex, my one WANT. He was having sex outside of our life which I found out. So after more counseling we stayed together. I loved him for taking care of me. . .he cooked, cleaned, did everything. I had decided to trade affection for his presence. Now that he's gone, I feel relieved and angry that I didn't get the right help, divorce him and have a goog life. He was a horrible father... he left me sufficiently funded to continue life, but now I'm too old to find another man to love.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 5 2018 at 11:05 am

I've recently had a flash back of something that happen to me about 20 years ago. It has shaken me up, nightmares are back. I also do not remember much of my childhood, somethings I remember are flashbacks and dreams. My mind has erased most of it.

September, 9 2017 at 6:31 am

After a childhood of sexual abuse from both parents and one, maybe both grandfathers, I carried on the deviancy to many others as an adult. It wasn't until my arrest, conviction, and treatment during probation that I came to understand this horrible cycle and the effects it has on others. EMDR significantly helped with my own PTSD. I'm an old man now but still have triggers and flashbacks and return to my early childhood abuses.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 10 2017 at 6:51 pm

Thank you for sharing, Howie. The victim-to-offender cycle (…) is one that many men who have been victims of abuse find disconcerting, and much misinformation exists on the topic. The organization 1 in 6 ( is an excellent resource for information and support for male victims of sexual abuse, including those who wonder "Am I Going to Become Abusive? What If I Already Have?" (href="

September, 11 2017 at 5:42 pm

I only had a one-time attempted abuse, but at the age of 6 when it was my cousin who was put in a position of power over me and nobody believed me the next day, I think that was where the PTSD started. When I finally told my mom 7 years later and her response was (literally) "you need to get over that", that was the nail in the coffin. My cousin asked me to perform oral sex on him, and I felt so much guilt at the age of 6 that I didn't do what my 17-year old babysitter asked me to do that I started eating to make the guilt go away. It didn't work. Then when my mom told me to get over it, I started trying to scratch the guilt out of myself. That didn't work either. As I got a little older and more independent, I tried to make up for failing my cousin by performing that act on any man who asked for it. I did not actually lose my vaginal virginity until the age of 26, but lost my oral virginity around the age of 18. Then at the age of 29 I was raped by my boyfriend. It took me 3 years to realize that coercing a person into sex while they are having an emotional crisis is rape. (I literally was just thinking "go away so I can cut myself.") I have not had sex or even a romantic but not sexual relationship since then. Someone pointed out to me that sexual abuse survivors either go toward hypersexuality or celibacy. I have the privilege of having done both. I have since talked to my sister and my other cousin (the original perpetrator's sister) about the situation. They were the people I told the next day. They both said they were sorry for not believing me and that he did the same thing to both of them. When he had a daughter, I feared for her. She is an adult now. I have not discussed this with her (and possibly never will, knowing now that she has her own mental health issues). I have tried EMDR. It made the memories worse. It helped me connect the dots between why certain sounds (mouth sounds) bother me, but never taught me how to deal with it. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and suggested I do Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which basically teaches how to calm intense emotions or just survive until they go away and deal with things that bring about intense emotions, but it never teaches how to process emotions and make them have less power. I am now seeing a trauma therapy specialist in hopes to one day have a fulfilling relationship even though I don't even know my own sexuality at this point and question why a relationship matters. I just want to know it's an option again.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 12 2017 at 10:43 am

Tina, I hear you. Your story reflects so many issues we face. In particular, I often hear from survivors who try to minimalize their abuse if did not involve penetrative sex. I too was told something similar to "forget about it," and it was an entirely new trauma to discover I had no one who would believe in me.
I hope you continue to seek support and clarity on your journey. It takes time.

Jan Blumenthal
September, 17 2017 at 7:05 am

I stopped counting after awhile how many men I slept with. I would take a National Platform defending the promiscuity of sexual abuse survivors. Survivors, we strengthen each other by continuing to be open and transparent about this heinous crime. Who cares what anybody thinks about us? The entire Department of Human Services and Law Enforcement have our backs. Stand strong survivors. We have a lot of support!❤️

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 17 2017 at 5:20 pm

Thank you, Jan. We are truly stronger together.

Jan Blumenthal
September, 17 2017 at 7:07 am

Thank you, Tia!

September, 18 2017 at 9:12 am

I was sexually abused and exposed to seeing my mother having sex with multiple partners set a young age and from a very young age I was hypersexual from all the exposure and abuse, and it continued and turned into promiscuity in my teens and throughout my life. I've been raped, I've been sodomized and I've never been able to prosecute my abusers. But thru sex I tried to fill a void tried to take charge tried to give it to them before it was taken. I can't even say how many men I've been with and it disgusts me now. And just makes me hate myself more. I'm in therapy though so I'm trying,

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 19 2017 at 6:57 am

Nicole, I am sorry that you are struggling with self-hate right now. I do know exactly what that is like. Therapy provides a great path towards learning to love ourselves. Thank you for sharing your personal story with us.

September, 19 2017 at 4:30 am

Geri and Tia, I have read about so many women getting help (finally) for this in their mid-40s, which was also the case for my own recovery. There must be something about that fourth decade. Its mind boggling that our experiences and our abuse are minimized and normalized, which I feel like, is a form of emotional abuse itself. No one wants to hear it, to deal with it, or help. Its too hard for them or whatever so we are left to our own 5, 10, 20 year old devices. Why do our own loved ones turn away from helping and let it continue and leave the victim with even more shame to live with, even more emotional, physical problems. Its just cruel to add more Ti what we are already dealing with.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 19 2017 at 6:02 am

Vanessa, you touch on an area I still struggle with. Despite my openness regarding my trauma, there are still people in my life who don't want to acknowledge or validate it in any way. I've tried to find perspective by reminding myself that I have no idea what anyone else is going through. Thank you for sharing!

March, 9 2019 at 12:29 am

Because I'm not believed, I've never been truly honest with anyone. Ever. I lie. All the time. It's because I'm afraid to speak out. Whilst married I had so many partners. I've had my husband after we split even though I'm in a new relationship. I can't be honest to my new partner or my husband about that. It just continues.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2018 at 11:20 pm

Many years past, I am really doing that inventory. The only thing I can think of is that they do t know what to say or do.
Having gone through some tremendous grief fairly recently, we see that many friends don't know what to say or how to act, or think it something you can just "get over" in a few days..
My prayer for each of your healing. Only in Christ have I found relief.
I just finished reading "The Way I Used To Be" by Amber Smith. A tragic journey through a young lady's response to her rape. Brought back some strong emotions, including self sabotage.

Vanessa Pariseau
February, 4 2018 at 11:54 am

I am at my wits end In my husband is absolutely amazing, understanding soo forgiving but I need some feedback from someone that has gone through tjis type of behavior and drama.. i was sexually abused from the age of 4-7 by a family member and did some counseling when i FINALLY came out to a teacher at school..but since getting together with my husband 10 years ago now I have been soo unfaithful and although he gives me a lot of attention it just doesn't seem to be enough, he even sexualized me to prove that attraction..but I just need help I NEED my husband in my life..i just need to know is it possible that as an adult now I NEVER really healed from this childhood drama.. please help me I am beyond desperate...please!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 5 2018 at 11:03 am

Hi Vanessa, I'm glad you're reaching out. I see that you had some therapy closer to the time of your abuse, and from your description it sounds like your time in therapy was relatively short.
Healing from trauma is an ongoing process and I don't believe there is a magic point where we are completely healed. We recover, we move on, we have a setback, we move on. Some people have fewer setbacks than others.
Therapy as a child/youth would not have addressed the issues that surround sexuality in adult relationships.
I do believe you would benefit from speaking to a counselor about your past trauma and your current concerns with your marriage. They can help you continue with your healing and provide you an understanding of how childhood trauma impacts us throughout life.
You are not alone in this. T

Jeremiah Bradbury
July, 19 2018 at 2:07 am

Hello, my wife was sexually abused by her grandfather from age 3 to 10yrs old. She has 5 mental disorders from this and not to forget a huge control issue.Im on here because I'm at my wits end at just over 4 yrs..she had her moments of telling telling me she has cheated in every single relationship !!I've found messages,e-mails, #,s ...dirty sheets!!I know she's cheating and don't know what to do...anybody have any suggestions??

October, 20 2018 at 11:28 pm

I can only say that I'm sorry. There is nothing that YOU can do. SHE has to decide to make that change, and seek the appropriate Mental Health Specialist.
My husband claims he was assaulted by a trusted neighbor when he was 13. While he acts all tough and says it never bothered him, he had numerous encounters before I had to leave.
His father also did those things, mother too. "As long as they come home together" it was ok in their home. Not mine. Later, it was other things too. I can't go on that journey with him.

January, 29 2019 at 4:56 am

That is desperately sad Jeremiah, I do hope you have kept your own mental health, as this is the most important thing for you.
Take care of yourself.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 21 2018 at 2:36 am

I have been where u are. I was abused sexually by a neighbor from 4 to 6. I was very sexual in my first marriage & unfaithful. He was the love of my life at the time & father to my kids. I did get a divorce. I will tell you the grass is NIT greener & had I known what this split would put even just my 2 kids through let alone me!! Who was made disabled by my next highly abusive domestic partner. Nerve damage & severe forever pain. My kids tho have suffered SO much. No man will love them like their own Dad. If hes a good man, as u say. Get help. Work through this. I will pray for u & ur family !!!!
All my luv & prayers for your families future

November, 21 2018 at 3:01 am

I am in a marriage now the last 11 years. I do love him very much. I have been able to stay completely faithful now I was drugged & raped at a party which I told my husband about. I was faithful to my last 2 partners before him as well. I am a flirt sometimes well was in the past. , the last 4 years even that I dont do. I have been able to really find my self esteem. In my 20s I had totally none & I can clearly look back & see I had PTSD & I tried to cover my feeling of being worthless My ex oddly also had a sexual addiction he had told me. At the end of r marriage I caught him in a lie. Sadly the man I thought was the love of my life was NOT as perfect as I thought. I am glad I divorced him all in all. He is such a different person Now I dont even recognize him. We married far to young I had sexual issues from my abuse. He had severe sexual addictions & fetishes which only hieghtened my sense of not being enough. Feeling that way was no way to live. I tridd to get help for us but he would go to one or two sessions & never go again. I couldnt fix the marriage alone. When I left he told me he knew he would never gave with anyone what we had. Odd he felt that way too late. He tells me this as my truck was packed to leave the state. My current marriage js healthy as far as trust going both ways. I finally have self respect & self esteem. That took real work on my part. That man that molested me stole SO much from me. Who knows who I would gave been who I would have married & been attracted to had he not molested me? The different type of person I am sure to whom I chose in this life. I feel Im finally in a real good place in my head. I feel good about who I am , how I raised my kids. So in the end I have finally gotten past what that nasty sick old man did to that poor little girl back in the late 60s I FINALLY AM OK & PAST IT!!! My daughter now 28 one semester from her masters & engaged to be married. I DID protect her. She was NEVER molested. I protected her From what I was not procted from. I find enormous healing in THAT ALONE. #me2. Sisters. We are. HUMAN we should not let people make us feel we need to hold kur heads down for begaviors that were spearned by being molested as a child. I have had a couple people in my life who have tried to rub my face in it. If they cant understand that the fact u were molested as a child comes out in overtly sexual ways when we are adults then thats on them not you we understand & obviously you are NOT alone in your response

February, 13 2018 at 3:31 am

I was abused by several different people on different occasions. 1st that I can recall was a neighborhood store clerk. The store was just next door to my house. I was small not sure the age old enough to go to the store alone. My mom used to always dress me in dresses. I hated dresses and stopped wearing them for long time but that's for another story. I remember t going into the store to buy a candy I was wearing a blue dress. The store clerk said something I can't remember but I followed to the back. He picked me up. His arms under my dress. I think he said something about the dress that's why I keep bringing it up. I don't remember much after that except a customer walked in cause the door bell rang the store clerk put me down. I ran to the front grabbed a cans bar and ran out the door. I remember looking up at the customer and he looked at me then at the clerk. I don't know what happen after that. Another time. Whe I was a bit older in 2nd grade we lived in apt. there was this teen boy Raul i don't remember how or why but I ended up alone with him underneath an empty apartment. In one of the bedrooms on the floor there is an opening a crawl space to go under. He took me there. I remember the cold dirt underneath my bottom. It felt soft. And it was quiet. After that I can't remember much. Except running home. My big brother later that day was chanting "stop Raul stop pulling my panting downs" but my brother didn't stop him or help him instead he made fun and I can't remember what all he did. Another time as an adult in my early 20s I went out with a guy friend i use the word guy friend loosely only because when I woke the next day I had a condom inside me. Apparently i passed out and he didn't bother to tell me. We are no longer friends. There are so many times in my life that men have tried to rape me. Strangers, friends family ones walking home from school I was in 5th a police car stopped me said they had a call of a suspicious car following a young girl. Another time my grandmother neighbor told me if I came over he'd give me 5 $. My aunt tore him a new one. I was at a party at a friend's house her brother offered to take me home. Instead he took me into this dark area a hill got out kept walking around his car talking to himself. I've never been so afraid. I swear he was trying to talk himself into not hurting me. As a teen I wore baggy clothes, I hated when men looked at me, I get up as a tom boy. Never wore makeup. Never thought as myself as pretty. I was always self conscious. I don't know why evil men seem to gravitate to me. I tried to commit suicide when I was a teen. Like I said as a teen I hated men. But when then I got into drugs and drinking and then sex seemed to be important. I don't even know how to explain it. I'm married now 3 kids. My husband knows my past and hates everything that's happened to me. He is very understanding. Even though i really can't say for sure I remember exactly what happened. My husband said I got drunk one time and while we were having sex i got into a fetal position crying to leave me alone. He said he's never been so angry at who ever did that to me and can't imagine what I went I went through. It's probably a good thing i can't remember. But a part of me wants to know. My 10 year told us last year her grandfather molested her. He is dead now. And I don't know if it's my fault this happened to her. But I feel as maybe it is. Also rumor is my grandfather was also sexually abusing his granddaughters 2 of my cousins came forward. But I can honestly say I don't remember my childhood. But should I try? Would it help or cause more hurt?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 13 2018 at 11:46 am

First, thank you for sharing your story. Your question is very similar to one I asked my therapist almost twenty years ago.
You do have memories, and they are quite detailed. I can only share with you what my therapist told me when I asked the same question. Work on processing the memories that you do have. If that opens up more areas that need healing, then you go from there.
I still do not remember everything, and I'm okay with that because I know plenty. More did come back to me as I began processing what I did remember.
From your description of your history as well as more recent events, it sounds like you would benefit from a counselor experienced in dealing with trauma. They will help you organize your memories and also help you find a way to recall things without experiencing the fear and pain of the original events. T

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

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 25 2018 at 4:02 pm

Hi Sharon, thanks for joining the conversation. You have asked a great question. Many victims of childhood sexual abuse seek validation that what happened to them was wrong. I think part of the reason for this is that we have spent a fair amount of energy trying to minimize the trauma in our own minds as a coping mechanism. From a mental health perspective, indecent exposure and inappropriate touching involving children are acts of abuse.
Your recollection of events is detailed. You clearly identified these situations as wrong and uncomfortable when they occurred. Your younger-self must have been so confused and upset that adults were acting so inappropriately.
If you are still experiencing intrusive thoughts or have concerns that you need more help processing these traumatic memories, a therapist experienced with trauma can help you work through them. Thanks again for sharing. T

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.

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!

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...

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?

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.. .

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 ....

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

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, 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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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