Women Struggle With Sexual Integrity
Men struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors including pornography use, compulsive sex and masturbation. What about these issues among women? You might be surprised to find that women are facing these same struggles. Often, women who struggle with sexual behaviors think they are alone and may even think there is something wrong with them. They may feel that there is no hope. The truth is, none of these thoughts are true.
Similar to men, women can have compulsive sexual behaviors and become addicted to sex. Dr. Patrick Carnes’, a leading sexual addiction researcher, has indicated that approximately 20% of those seeking help for sex addiction are female. The church culture has largely failed to address these issues among women.
As a Christian counselor, I have worked with women struggling with unhealthy sexual behaviors including:
- pornography use
- sexual fantasies
- dressing provocatively and
- reading romance novels
Until women feel safe enough to talk about these issues, they will continue to be trapped in their habitual behaviors. This article is designed to help you understand how these unhealthy patterns may start, explain characteristics of addiction, and share how one can find hope and healing.
The Problem Isn’t Sex
Unhealthy sexual behaviors are really not about sex. It is a desperate search for love, touch, affirmation, affection and approval. Risky sexual behaviors can offer a woman a false sense of intimacy and a deceitful, temporary resolution to their legitimate needs.
A Search For Intimacy
Most female sex addicts report that they have a history of profound childhood abuse, physical neglect, and trauma that, often times, is sexual in nature. As these lonely, young girls turn into adults, the past abuse and neglect creates a deep need for belonging and acceptance. Women will look to sex, romance novels, pornography and masturbation as a way of curbing loneliness and seeking companionship. These behaviors provide a woman with a sense of acceptance and belonging, albeit false. Acting out sexually may also give some women a sense of control over others. This control is something that was not experienced in abusive childhood relationships.
Women who desire to find companionship often prefer cybersex, online chat rooms, or emotional affairs over porn sites that offer only pictures and graphic stories. However, researchers have shown that women will use pornography to soothe their emptiness too. In fact, one in six women struggles with an addiction to pornography.
Are You Addicted?
Unhealthy sexual behaviors can stimulate the user, releasing chemicals in the brain that act on the body in much the same way as cocaine does. It is an exhilarating but short-lived euphoria. The loneliness returns, leaving women wanting more contact and more stimulation, thus creating the cycle of addiction. For more on the cycle of addiction, read this great article by my colleague Erick Gomez.
Why are Women Less Likely than Men to receive Help?
- Because of shame and judgment
- Because they think they are alone
- Fear of disturbing old wounds
- Fear of being thought of as a “slut” or “whore”
- Not comfortable bringing it up in conversation
- Sex is a taboo subject with friends or family and in the church
- Women aren’t supposed to “like sex”
Getting Help from a Christian Counselor
Women need to know that there are others out there who will understand and support them as they seek to break free from their unhealthy sexual behaviors. Restoring positive and Godly sexuality is not an easy process, and many women sadly feel too ashamed to reach out for help. The first step to recovering, however, is to ask someone for help. Christian counseling is a great place for women to begin to heal from their unhealthy sexual behaviors. If you are a woman struggling with your sexuality, I invite you to get in touch. I would be delighted to discuss how Christian counseling can help you find freedom from harmful sexual habits.
Images cc: freedigitalphotos.com – “Beautiful Sad Young Woman” by anankkml
“Hand Holding Coffee Mug” by photostock