Self-compassion, relation satisfaction mediate child sexual abuse-sexual functioning link

14 May 2023
Self-compassion, relation satisfaction mediate child sexual abuse-sexual functioning link

Self-compassion and relationship satisfaction play a significant role in the relationship between sexual functioning and child sexual abuse (CSA), a study has found.

“Our results highlight the importance of self-compassion and relationship satisfaction when considering sexual dysfunction following CSA,” the authors said.

A total of 914 individuals completed an online survey that evaluated CSA, self-compassion, sexual functioning, and relationship satisfaction. Of these, 582 reported being in a romantic relationship presently and were included in the current analysis. Majority of the participants were female (n=534, 91.8 percent), and their mean age was 31.85 years.

Self-compassion was found to mediate the relationship between CSA and sexual functioning, whereas a significant two-way interaction between CSA and intimate relationship satisfaction that predicted sexual functioning was observed.

In particular, CSA negatively correlated with sexual functioning only when levels of relationship satisfaction were low, while the association between CSA and sexual functioning was nonsignificant in the presence of average and high intimate relationship satisfaction.

“Findings from the current study suggest that clinicians working with CSA survivors should take into account survivors’ self-compassion and relational functioning when engaging in therapeutic work around their sexual dysfunction,” the authors said.

This study was limited by the nonclinical sample of individuals and the use of self-report measures, which are highly subjective and increase the chance of social desirability biases.

“Additional research should be conducted among clinical samples and among couples to explore this model from a dyadic perspective,” the authors said.

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