Posted: March 18th, 2023
Child Abuse and Sexuality
There has been increasing awareness about stopping sexual child abuse, which has now become an important public health concern (Hammond, 2003; Whitaker, Lutzker, & Shelley, 2005). In 2005 more than 83000 cases related to child sexual abuse have been listen in the state-based reports, that have been accumulated by the office of Child Abuse and Neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [U.S. DHHS], 2007). Majority of these cases related to sexual abuse never get registered or reported. Finkelhor, Ormrod, Turner, and Hamby’s (2005) conducted a survey a while back in which the sample constituted of parents along with children. The results of the survey were that, in the year before the survey, out of every 1000 children 82 have been a victim of sexual abuse (Whitaker, 2008).
The abused child undergoes various problems socially, behaviorally, psychologically and physically. Depression, PTSD, somatization, and personality disorder affects the victim psychologically (Putnam, 2003). More sexualized behaviors affect the victim socially and may alter their behavior. These sexualized behaviors may result in untimely and unwanted pregnancy (Paolucci, Genuis, & Violato, 2001), spread of the HIV infection (Brown, Lourie, Zlotnick, & Cohn, 2000), could even lead to substance abuse, or eating disorders like bulimia (Putnam, 2003). Neurobiological effects are a result of being physically affected (Putnam, 2003). Physical problems may also affect the sexual health or choice especially if it is coupled with other more devastating experiences of the past. Over the course of time it may lead to diseases related to the heart and lungs. It may also prove to be cancerous (Whitaker, 2008).
Most studies recognize the fact that those men who show a sexual preference for other men, who may also be referred to as MSM, have been mostly those who have been victimized in cases relating to childhood sexual abuse (CSA) when compared to studies with straight men. The rate for this may be from anywhere between 11% and 37% (Kalichman et al., 2001; Paul, Catania, Pollack, & Stall, 2001). But comparing these rates of CSA amongst different studies may prove to be insignificant because of the varied definition of the term CSA (Dolezal & Carballo-Dieguez, 2002; Whitaker, 2008).
The abuse of Female victims is prevalent in almost all parts of the world and cannot be restricted to a particular nation. It has become increasing widespread and has severe adverse effects that may continue for a long time General Ban Ki-moon (2008 as cited in Yoshihama and Horrocks, 2010), Secretary-General at the United Nations, points out that (Yoshihama and Horrocks, 2010): A cursory glance on the statistics makes it obvious that violence against women is a matter that needs to be catered urgently which inherently can have an influence on their sexual preference as well. Statistics show that anytime during the course of her life one of every three women is susceptible of being bashed, forced into having sex or may be abused in some other way anytime. And now with the emergence of prenatal sex selection many females never come into the world. Women of not even a single country are safe from this misfortune, where most of the time these heinous crimes are not punished and those who commit them roam about freely and are never held accountable (Yoshihama and Horrocks, 2010).
In most part of the world, abuse against women and girls have been kept a secret and hidden from the public’s eye, especially those that happen in the premises of a particular house. This is often regarded as an individual’s own matter, which never reaches the attention of the public and has resulted in deficient research causing a feeling of shame amongst the victims and the survivors of this abuse (Yoshihama and Horrocks, 2010). Rage and distrust towards men (those who have abused them or those who are in a position to help them but don’t) is also a common emotion felt by females who were sexually abused. This could also be one of the main reasons why the sexual preference of women may be altered due to the sexual abuse they faced.
There has been some improvement in the field of research, in the previous 30 years, that would allow for better comprehension of this issue. The studies related to intimate partner violence (IPV) and childhood sexual abuse (CSA) have become increasingly widespread in the western countries for example the Unites States. But sadly these accomplishments in research have not been done on an equal footing around the globe. Majority of these studies are done in western nations or mostly by researchers from the west. Although for the first time a study of women is currently being carried out in Yokohama as well, which is the largest city in Japan. This population-based study would help in better understanding more than one type of abuse faced by the victim from being a child to moving to adulthood. It helps in understanding the connection between the two (Yoshihama and Horrocks, 2010).
Observation and retrospective studies related to the child sexual behavior highlights the fact that most children have their early sexual experiences with other children, although proportion may move from third to half which basically relies on each individuals behavior (Davies et al., 2000; Larsson and Svedin, 2002a,b; Sandnabba et al., 2003; Santtila et al., 2005). Sexual arousal model determines the fact that most people link some of the characteristics (which may include the body structure, no pubic hair, and inadequate secondary sexual characteristics) of the child partner with the sexual sensation they undergo. These links are then further built upon through the practices such as masturbatory activity and orgasms. Experience gradually causes these preferences to change for people of similar ages. But this may not always be the case, for according to this model, these preferences for a few people may persist even when they become adults. Some experiments conducted have helped in finding out the impact of conditioning with respect to sexual arousal system in people (Hoffmann et al., 2004).
Different things could have an impact on this process which includes the degree of the sexual intercourse and also if it was done with an individual of the similar sex or from the other sex. A greater degree of interaction determines the sexual age priority more as oppose to a lower level. In addition to this if the vast majority of the people are bisexual by birth (to understand the impact of genes on sexual orientation go through Hyde’s study from 2005), then intercourse with the opposite-sex child is more common and has a greater impact on the person. The sample study that comprised of twin pairs helped in determining the impact of the presence of an individual of the opposite sex (instead of the same sex) child by analyzing how an intercourse between the co-twins would have an impact on the sexual intercourse with other children. Human fetuses are no different from most mammalian species which produce androgens. These are basically male sex hormones. The androgen zed human fetuses display male sex characteristics. Now if there is a female co-twin, then this process experiences some interference. This could result in appealing men towards them. This in turn produces an affect directly opposite to the one previously hypothesized (Santtila, 2010).
Abuse done physically and sexually has the impact of a more sexualized behavior in younger people (Santtila et al., 2005). Children who have undergone sexual abuse also exhibit a greater chance of being sexually interested in children (Van Wijk et al., 2006; Santtila et al., submitted for publication), which leads us to understand that the link between the abused child and further his sexual interest in children could be eased out by enhancing interaction with other children. The two variables namely childhood sexual relations with other children and the sexual interests of adults would enable us in better understanding the degree of sexual desire (Santtila, 2010).
People who have suffered from CSA display a number of different problems related to behavior and emotions. Males, as compared to the females, who have been a victim of sexual abuse, tend to be more likely to further become a victim of substance use disorder. A strong link has been found between substance use and CSA (Kalichman et al., 2001) which is mostly found in MSM. Studies have further gone on to highlight other problems that men may face after they have been a victim of child sexual abused. These problems include being skeptical of other people, refrain from or problems in maintaining a relationship, and problems with expressing their emotions to other men (Paul et al., 2001). Further CSA among MSM may also result in an internalized homophobia and problems in identifying sexual orientation which could lead to categorizing the self as bisexual as opposed to being gay (Paul et al., 2001). Some studies have depicted the fact that white MSM have a lesser chance of reporting CSA as opposed to a non-white individual which shows that ethnicity also has some link to CSA (Paul et al., 2001; Parsons et al., 2005).
CSA, when compared to other men who have not been a victim of this abuse, exhibit a few sexual behaviors which include: greater amount of sex partners, sexual promiscuity, compulsive sexual behavior and an earlier sexual debut. A few studies highlighted the fact that men who have been a victim of CSA and showed sexual preference for other men had a greater chance of being inflicted with the HIV infection (Paul et al., 2001). Furthermore, increasing amount of studies have gone on to highlight that such men are likely to carry out practices, such as unprotected anal sex, that would enhance the transfer of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), especially HIV (Kalichman et al., 2001; O’Leary, Purcell, Gomez, Remien, & the Seropositive Urban Men’s Study Team, 2003; Parsons et al., 2005).
Some data also supports the fact that MSM who have been a victim of CSA may dabble in a profession like prostitution or are likely to give sex in return for financial gains or drugs (DiIorio, Hartwell, & Hansen, 2002). Some studies have also produced the result that female prostitutes are more likely to be a victim of CSA as compared to other people. Quite a few studies have primarily focused on male prostitutes that have been a victim of CSA, but even those studies that are present to date have aimed for street-based prostitution (Valera, Sawyer, & Schiraldi, 2001; Parsons et al., 2005).
Majority of the past researches have been aimed at ‘hustlers’ when trying to understand the physical and psychological health of the male prostitutes. Agencies that have been functioning for almost 20 years cater to homosexual men by supplying male escorts. Similarly individual male escorts have been in the market for 20 years, aiming at homosexual men by publicizing the facilities they provide through magazines and newspapers. Some also become models, body workers or masseurs. The emergence of the internet has allowed for better communication between the escorts and their customer. The escorts publicize by providing the customers with their pictures and all the facilities they provide, their customers contact them through email or chat rooms (Parsons et al., 2005).
Escorts that use the internet for publicizing their facilities are very different from the street-based prostitutes. The use of the internet benefit the escorts in several ways which includes that they can be far more choosy about the kind of customers they want, organize their schedule that best suits them and can demand a higher price for the services rendered. The street-based prostitutes, on the contrary, are more likely to suffer from the risk of violence, being arrested or not being remunerated for the services rendered. The impact of the CSA may be different for these internet-based escorts. The HIV risk also varies between the escorts and other sex workers. Studies have demonstrated that male prostitutes have a higher probability of using protective measures like condoms when having a sexual intercourse with their customers and less probability of using condoms when carrying out sex with non-paying partners (Estcourt, Marks, Rohrsheim, Johnson, Donovan, & Mindel, 2000; Minichiello et al., 2000; Ziersch, Gaffney, & Tomlinson, 2000; Parsons et al., 2005).
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