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Not everyone who was abused as a child reacts as Haney does, preferring casual sex.
But she's far from alone, according to a survey of 1,032 college students published in the November 1999 issue of the Journal of Sex Research.
And the numbers behind this dilemma are substantial.
According to University of New Hampshire sociologist David Finkelhor, Ph D, an estimated 20% of women and up to 5% of men in the United States were abused sexually as children.
Haney (not her real name), is currently in therapy to help overcome what she calls her "separation" of love and sex.
But partners can go along to therapy sessions, if invited, as a show of support.
In the survey, women who had been sexually abused were more likely than those who had not been abused to be more sexually experienced and more willing to engage in casual sex, according to Cindy Meston, Ph D, a survey co-author and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas.
(This was not the case for men.) Such behavior could stem from an unhealthy sexual self-image, she says.
As for Haney, she plans to continue with therapy until she is able to combine physical and emotional intimacy.
"I am pretty determined when I set my mind to something," she says. I don't want what happened to beat me." Stephen Gregory has been a journalist for 10 years and has worked for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and U. But others may have a sudden loss of desire, says Bette Marcus, Ph D, a Rockville, Md., psychologist.She recalls a patient who, two years into her marriage, began having flashbacks of sexual assaults at the hands of her stepfather.Or, some survivors may use sex as a means of getting validation from men.