Victimization, Abuse, and Sex/Porn Addiction

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A high percentage of addicts (of all types) experienced some form of early-life abuse – everything from neglect to physical abuse to sexual abuse. In fact, childhood trauma is the most reliable predictor of addiction in adults. Countless studies have identified a direct causal link between early-life trauma and later-life physical and emotional disorders, including addiction. One well-known study tells us that individuals with four or more significant childhood traumas are:

  • 8 times as likely to smoke cigarettes.
  • 9 times as likely to become obese.
  • 4 times as likely to experience ongoing anxiety.
  • 5 times as likely to experience panic reactions.
  • 6 times as likely to be depressed.
  • 6 times as likely to qualify as promiscuous.
  • 6 times as likely to engage in early-life sexual intercourse.
  • 2 times as likely to become alcoholic.
  • 1 times as likely to become intravenous drug users.

Sadly, childhood trauma, especially interpersonal abuse, also increases the likelihood of becoming an abuser as an adult. Being abused and committing abuse frequently go together – two sides of the same coin, so to speak.

This is as true with sex and porn addicts as any other category. An extremely high percentage of sex and porn addicts experienced childhood abuse. And many of these individuals, as adults, become perpetrators of similar abuse in conjunction with their addiction. In short, victimization and abuse seem to travel hand-in-hand.

Generally, victimization and abuse (i.e., interpersonal trauma) are defined as any event or experience (including witnessing) that is physically or psychologically overwhelming in the moment or later, when the event is remembered.

Early-life victimization and abuse typically occur in one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal Abuse: Using words and body language to inappropriately criticize another person. Verbal abuse often involves putdowns and name-calling intended to make the victim feel unworthy of love and respect.
  • Threatening Behavior: Using words or behavior to threaten another person with physical, psychological, emotional, or sexual harm.
  • Physical Abuse: Using forceful or violent physical action to intimidate or to make another person do something against his or her will.
  • Sexual Abuse: Engaging in any non-consenting sexual act or behavior. Non-consenting can include behaviors “consented to” by minors, adults who are inebriated, and mentally disabled people.
  • Psychological Abuse: Playing mind games to create fear or confusion in the victim.
  • Neglect: Failing to provide for the basic needs of one or more dependents. Basic needs include adequate and appropriate food, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and love.
  • Bullying/Teasing: Chronic bullying and teasing can be traumatic, with lifelong repercussions.
  • Witnessing Violence: Observing violence in the home or elsewhere can have an impact equal to experiencing the violence oneself.
  • Hate Crimes: Abuse based solely on some characteristic such as religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or the color of a person’s skin.

For long-term recovery and healing, recovering sex and porn addicts often need to unravel strands of their trauma history, looking at the ways in which they were victimized and abused, and also the ways in which they have victimized and abused others. With this work, they gain a better understanding of how they developed certain behavior patterns, including sex and porn addiction.

Unfortunately, uncovering and processing unresolved early-life trauma is a difficult and unpleasant process. In all cases, this work should only be embarked upon with assistance from an experienced therapist specializing in trauma, and it should not be attempted until sobriety is firmly established. Otherwise, the emotional pain of trauma work could easily trigger a relapse. That said, many recovering sex and porn addicts do find this work worthwhile, as it addresses the major underlying issues driving their addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with victimization and abuse, especially as these issues relate to sex and porn addiction, Seeking Integrity can help. We offer both residential sex/porn addiction treatment and outpatient therapist recommendations. Please feel free to contact us for guidance on dealing with both unresolved trauma and addiction.