Sex guilt and its associations in a sexually abused population

Robyn Darleen Walser, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Sex guilt has been identified as a disposition that appears to have an inhibitory effect on sexual behavior and sexual attitudes. Specifically, individuals high in sex guilt tend to engage in fewer sexual relations, use contraceptives less often, and have less sexual knowledge. Issues concerning sexual behaviors and attitudes may be particularly relevant for victims of sexual abuse as a result of their past experiences. The present study investigated the effects of sex guilt in a clinical sample of sexually abused and non-abused females. Differences between the two groups were examined. Results indicated that sexually abused females were higher in sex guilt than nonabused females, but only when religious affiliation was used as a covariate. Differences in level of sexual activity, sexual knowledge, and affective responses toward contraceptive topics and behavior and their relationship to sex guilt were also assessed. Sexually abused subjects had higher levels of sexual activity than nonabused subjects. No other differences were found. Limitations and implications for therapeutic intervention are discussed.