Childhood Sexual Abuse – Preceding Hypersexualized Behavior

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Childhood Sexual Abuse – Preceding Hypersexualized Behavior

This essay will delve into the issue of childhood sexual abuse. It will discuss its psychological effects, the challenges in addressing and preventing abuse, and the importance of support systems and legal measures to protect vulnerable children. More free essay examples are accessible at PapersOwl about Abuse.

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Hypersexual behavior is differentiated from paraphilia, or sexually deviant behavior, based on the criteria that hypersexual behaviors still fall within socially normal sexual activities (Kafka, 2010). Paraphilia refers to activities that do not fall within reasonably expected behavior, such as sexual interest in children or non-living entities (DSM-V, 2013). Both are defined as intense and frequent sexual behaviors that bring distress or other unintended negative consequences. This report looks at childhood sexual abuse, commonly referred to as CSA, in terms of its impact and contribution to adverse behavioral development before the age of 18 years from three disciplines: social sciences, applied sciences, and a diversity component.

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For the purpose of this work, CSA is defined as any sexual-related activity between an adult and a child that meets the adult’s sexual needs (Yarber & Sayad, 2018).

The first discipline, social sciences, will examine this topic from the perspective of psychology. Sexual trauma in children is one of the most intriguing and commonly explored topics by psychologists, who present the more statistical and defined theories of these behaviors. This viewpoint will explore the psychological emotional effects of CSA that contribute to the hypersexual behavior as defined above. The second discipline, applied science, focuses on the physiology and biology of the body by examining the physical impact of CSA trauma, and provides support for psychological findings. In an emotionally intense experience like sexual abuse, the trauma is often so intense that the human body’s psychological processing directly bypasses the emotional stage and initiates the physical reactions, which will vary in intensity based on the body’s relationship with the brain. Lastly, the diversity component will examine the relationship between CSA and its effect on marginalized queer culture. Such childhood experiences often concern lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender (LGBTQ) individuals due to the likely discrimination already present in a hostile family environment. Their social experiences play a large part in their emotional and physical development, as well as their relationship to society. These disciplines together will guide this examination of one central focus for this work, which is that hypersexualized behaviors are more common in persons who experience any form of sexual abuse in their childhood.


Hypersexual Disorder (HD) has always been loosely defined under umbrella disorders as a component labeled ‘other’ by psychologists. The disorders from which the definition of HD is derived are Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Paraphilia, as proposed by Martin P. Kafka, a member of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) workgroup on Gender and Identity Disorders (Kafka, 2010). The resulting definition, as proposed, is a repeated intense obsession with sexual fantasies, urges, and activities, resulting in detrimental effects and clinically significant distress or deterioration of important areas of functioning. A distinctive component is that the experiences also encompass multiple attempts to curb the amount of engagement in such sexual behaviors after emotionally significant experiences (Kafka, 2010).

From a psychological perspective, what is the underlying cause of such hypersexual behavior? It has been noted that the activation of negative sex-related memories serves as a trigger for hypersexual behaviors, including related dreams and desires (Paunovi? & Hallberg, 2014). The root of these triggers is supported by childhood experiences and premature exposure to sexual conduct. The impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) is so distressing to the individual that it overwhelms them psychologically. Their fight or flight impulses become disrupted by the memories left behind. Various coping mechanisms arise, including engagement in sexual behaviors as a distraction tactic. It’s also noted that the sexual misconduct could be an imprint behavior in their childhood development. This is explored by various learning models: behavioral, compensation, and physiological. The behavioral model suggests that a child who is the victim or observer of inappropriate sexual behaviors learns to imitate them and the experience reinforces that activity later on (Paraphilias, 2018). When the individual affected by CSA is uncomfortable with the distress of these actions, they easily revert to those imitated behaviors as a reflex. Furthermore, the compensation models suggest that affected individuals have limited social sexual contacts and therefore seek satisfaction through less socially acceptable means. While hypersexuality includes normal sexual behaviors, it is the intensity and frequency that define it as less socially acceptable.

From the perspective of psychology, the connection between hypersexual disorder and childhood sexual experience is the emotional mental trauma that reroutes basic impulses, thereby distinguishing abnormal preferences that become distressing.

Physiology & Biology

The physiology and biology of the brain reveal a tremendous amount of information about what the body is experiencing during the mental processing of emotions. Biologically, children who have experienced severe sexual abuse are more likely to have elevated cortisol levels (Bellis, 2014). Cortisol is a steroid that is secreted during high-stress levels and encompasses beneficial short-term effects. However, the cumulative impact of repeated cortisol reactivity and dysregulation under chronic stress can bring about negative consequences for the body (Stalder, et al., 2017).

Increasing severity of childhood trauma is also associated with dysregulation of the LHPA axis. LHPA is the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and it coordinates input information from the brain structure. Decreased N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) concentrations are also associated with increased metabolism and loss of neurons. NAA is the second most prevalent compound in mammalian vertebrae and is found in neurons. Brain NAA levels decrease when an individual has neuronal deficits such as a stroke (Bellis, 2014), or in this case, the stressful violation of a child’s emotional innocence. These strong emotional responses can be tied to physiological consequences, including the detrimental brain effects. Thus, childhood trauma and its adverse effects disrupt the brain networks that establish an individual’s ability to think and regulate their sense of self, motivations, and behaviors (Bellis, 2014). The disruption from trauma then leads to an irregular thinking pattern, which relates to impulse control issues combined with the obtrusive sexual needs described by hypersexual disorder.

Queer Theory/ Studies

When bringing into question the diversity of sexual trauma and its impact, LGBTQ individuals have a higher risk of developing hypersexual behaviors due to experiences of childhood sexual abuse compared to their cisgender counterparts who were fortunately spared from the abuse. A study showed that the identified focus participants had a 43% to 48.5% increase in their potential of being sexually abused in childhood (Xu Y., 2015). Children whose sexuality and gender are already in question are at a higher risk level for disorders because of parental expectations (Martinez & McDonald, 2017) that don’t support their true nature and foster the creation of fear and stress. The parental figures are not the only ones highlighted as being agents of victimization, immediate family members including siblings and extended family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles are noted to have an impact as well. The resultant fear and shame exist for a reason; studies determined that victimization from family members, usually the parental figure of a child, is most likely to be physical (Martinez & McDonald, 2017).

In addition to home life, American attitudes towards LGBTQ culture are still in transition, moving away from being negative and unaccepting. This group is already marginalized in society and having the same experience at home only further reinforces the idea that they are a minority because of their individuality.


Through the process of developing this report, I gained a deeper understanding of the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and the impact it brings to an individual’s later life, especially its prevalence in minority groups. I was not surprised to find throughout my research that there is a heavier focus on suicidal disorders and PTSD in child sexual abuse studies. However, I was surprised by the extent of risk CSA brings in terms of developing multiple disorders. I also found that the writing process pushed me to be extremely critical of the research I sorted through, as I was more scrutinous of the criteria for evaluating effective data properties such as relevance, age, credibility, etc. It took a lot of patience to sort through the data and figure out how to effectively implement critical pieces. If given another opportunity, I would do more preliminary research to narrow down the writing thesis and be more organized with my sources throughout the planning phase. Overall, the learning experience enriched my understanding and added value to my academic career.


In conclusion, a relationship between childhood sexual abuse and hypersexual behavior is established. The biological responses support the emotional and behavioral discrepancies that occur post-maltreatment. Further considering the individual’s unique relationship with the world can trigger even more emotional stimuli in such distressing situations. The disciplines are similar in the way they examine various aspects of human life; however, each one addresses a specific domain. The first layer is the biology of the physical body, followed by the layer of the psyche that enables emotions and thought processes. Finally, the external layer that interacts socially produces a combined effect of the first two layers. Understanding the impact of childhood sexual abuse is critical to developing remedies that will aid these victims later in their lives.

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Childhood Sexual Abuse - Preceding Hypersexualized Behavior. (2019, Feb 02). Retrieved from