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Sexual Addiction as a Precursor

Dear Tricia:

There always seems to be a lot of press related to the sexual molestation of minors. I have a hard time understanding why these people do what they do. There seems to be a pattern of abusers having a history of being sexual abused. Do you deal with these issues in the help you offer, and can you shed some light on this horrific subject?

                                                                                                                                                                       ~Miffed in Malibu

Dear Miffed:

Yes, it seems there are always scandals and tragedies related to sexual abuse and sexual misconduct with children. There is no doubt that when someone experiences sexual abuse as a child, a pattern of pain and destruction usually follows, often passed on to others and oneself.

Being sexually abused is a likely precursor to addiction.Tweet this!

Usually those suffering with eating disorders or obesity have an incidence of sexual abuse in their past.

I have experienced it. The person responsible was also a minor, who had been a victim of it at as well.

While it’s too large an issue to address appropriately in this forum, at the risk of oversimplifying, I will make a few observations that may help:

  • When people are sexually abused as children, they become sexually active prematurely, before they are mentally and emotionally equipped to handle such strong feelings and interpersonal dynamics. Usually, to combat these strong feelings, they resort to addictions: alcohol, food, drugs, and sex primarily. Panic disorders and a myriad of more severe mental illnesses can often emerge as well.
  • The premature sexual activity ignites a preoccupation with sex, causing the person to lead a secretive and detrimental double life. The sex obsession causes tremendous guilt and mental anguish, which, in turn, propels a person further into the obsession, as an escape.
  • Many people use addictions as an attempt to “shut down” the sexual obsession (such as overeating) or facilitate the obsession without the burden of guilt (such as alcohol abuse.) Sex addicts are usually as addicted to the shame and guilt of their activities as they are to the temporary sexual stimulation they derive.
  • As with any addiction, the problem, when left untreated, is guaranteed to progressively worsen. Negative consequences increase as well, such as losing one’s job, family, respect of community, freedom, sanity, and even life itself.
  • The good news is that there is a solution to sex addiction, even to pedophilia. Because so many people with other addictions have a sexual addiction as well, I deal with it quite often.

If you know someone struggling with any addiction, please refer him or her to me or my website as soon as possible.




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