Sexual vs. Non-sexual trauma, sexual satisfaction and function, and mental health in female veterans

Jennifer DiMauro, Keith D. Renshaw, Rebecca K. Blais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Trauma in general, and sexual assault in particular, is associated with serious mental health and functional problems. The quality of sexual satisfaction/function may be particularly impacted by sexual assault, and such sexual problems may account for some of the broader mental health and functioning impairments in sexual assault survivors. Accordingly, we examined self-reports of sexual health and mental health in a sample of 255 female veterans in committed, monogamous relationships who provided data regarding sexual assault (n = 153) or nonsexual trauma (n = 102). Trauma type was not associated with differences in sexual function, but sexual trauma was associated with significantly lower sexual satisfaction, greater posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depressive symptoms, and higher suicidal ideation. Furthermore, the indirect effect of trauma type on all mental health outcomes was significant via sexual satisfaction but not via sexual function. Finally, trauma type moderated the association of sexual function with suicidality, such that the association was significantly positive in those with a history of sexual assault but nonsignificant in those with nonsexual trauma. These results suggest that (1) female veterans’ experience of sexual assault is related to sexual satisfaction, which in turn is related to mental health outcomes, and (2) a history of sexual assault may increase the importance of sexual functioning with regard to suicidality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-416
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 8 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Military sexual assault
  • sexual function
  • sexual satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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