Exploring the role of child sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in gay and bisexual men reporting compulsive sexual behavior

Child Abuse Negl. 2012 May;36(5):413-22. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.03.003. Epub 2012 May 21.


Objectives: Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is an impairing yet understudied clinical phenomenon. The experience of child sexual abuse (CSA) has been implicated as an etiological factor in the development of some cases of CSB (Kuzma & Black, 2008); however, research regarding the role of CSA and related psychopathology in CSB symptomatology has been limited in the literature. The present study aimed to examine the uniqueness of the association of CSA with CSB as compared to other experiences of child maltreatment; the role of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology in CSB symptoms for individuals reporting CSA; and clinical differences between individuals with and without histories of CSA.

Methods: Hypotheses were tested using data from a sample of 182 gay and bisexual men reporting CSB symptoms.

Results: CSA prevalence was high in the tested sample (39%). CSA severity was a unique predictor of CSB symptoms, above child physical and emotional abuse, and poly-victimization status was not significantly related to CSB symptoms. Contrary to hypotheses, PTSD symptoms did not significantly mediate the role of CSA severity, although PTSD symptoms explained additional variance in CSB symptoms, with the final model accounting for over a quarter of the variance in CSB symptoms (27%). Finally, men with a history of CSA reported more CSB, depressive, and anxious symptoms than those without a history of CSA.

Conclusions: Findings from the present study support the hypothesis that CSA may be uniquely related to CSB symptoms, above other forms of child maltreatment, and indicate that men with a CSA history are likely to present more severe clinical comorbidities. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Compulsive Behavior / etiology*
  • Compulsive Behavior / psychology
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Young Adult