Posttraumatic stress and sexual functioning difficulties in college women with a history of sexual assault victimization.

Objective: College women are at risk for exposure to sexual victimization, which is a risk factor for posttraumatic stress (PTS) and sexual dysfunction. Contemporary models of female sexual functioning identify the role of distal (e.g., sexual abuse) and proximal (e.g., psychological) variables in contributing to female sexual response. This study examined whether and how PTS symptom clusters are related to specific domains of sexual functioning in a sample of sexually active college women who reported a history of sexual victimization. Method: A nonclinical sample of 108 women, recruited from a midsized university, completed online questionnaires assessing sexual victimization history, PTS symptom clusters (i.e., intrusion, avoidance, and hyperarousal), and difficulties with sexual functioning (i.e., desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, pain, and distress). Results: Regression analyses indicated that greater intrusive symptoms were associated with more difficulties with orgasm and higher sexual distress. Conclusion: Results confirm the importance of intrusive PTS symptoms in understanding subjective distress and orgasm difficulties in sexual assault survivors. Possible implications of these findings include the integration of trauma-focused therapy with treatment of sexual dysfunction among women with a history of sexual assault. Future research should examine prospective relationships between sexual assault exposure, PTS response, and female sexual dysfunction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)