Compulsive Sexual Behavior and PTSD
Compulsive Sexual Behavior (CSB) is defined as a “pattern of abnormally frequent paraphelic … or normaphelic … thoughts and actions” that causes distress or problems in a person’s life. Symptoms of CSB include frequent sexual fantasies or urges, intercourse, masturbation, fetishism, sadism, or pedophilia. Roughly 3 to 5 percent of the general population report Compulsive Sexual Behavior. However, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions and sponsored by the VA Office of Research and Development found that this number was significantly higher in male veterans.
The study, entitled “Compulsive sexual behavior among male military veterans: Prevalence and Associated Clinical Factors,” surveyed 258 male veterans at three-month intervals over the span of six months. At the initial interview, the veterans were asked questions about childhood and military traumas, their history of mental illness, and their sociodemographic characteristics, as well as questions to determine if they exhibited Compulsive Sexual Behavior. They were asked the same questions three months and six months later. At the initial interview, 16.7 percent of veterans surveyed suffer from CSB. At three months, the percentage dropped to 15.5 percent, and at six months, 8.8 percent.
Why is the number of veterans exhibiting CSB, especially at the initial interview, so much higher than the general population? The study examined whether Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, trauma caused by separation of families during deployment and an often difficult reintegration correlated with increased incidents of Compulsive Sexual Behavior. First, it must be understood that Compulsive Sexual Behavior is largely co-morbid – meaning it is much more likely to occur if the person has another psychiatric disorder like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression. According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, 20 percent of the veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or PTSD, compared to about 3.5 percent of general adults, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Of the veterans who were found to exhibit CSB, 97.7 percent of them had been previously diagnosed with PTSD. Researchers postulate that sexual behaviors serve as a coping mechanism to ease symptoms caused by PTSD or other trauma disorders, not unlike alcoholism or drug abuse.
Thomas Roughneen and Associates has experience representing veterans in legal trouble due to CSB. One of our clients, a veteran who served honorably in Iraq before receiving an honorable discharge, had absolutely no criminal record until he was charged with three counts of voyeurism on two separate occasions within the span of five months. He had struggled with mental illness since his deployment to Iraq, and was later diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury, severe PTSD, and paraphilic voyeuristic disorder. Rehabilitation for these types or sexual disorders are prone to relapses in the same way that rehabilitation for substance addiction works. Our firm is currently working to ensure that this veteran receives the psychological and psychiatric treatment he needs to treat PTSD and CSB rather than spend time in jail.
Thomas Roughneen and Associates understands that CSB disorders like voyeurism are commonly a symptom of previous combat trauma in the veteran population, and we have experience protecting veterans who exhibit CSB. If you or someone you know has legal charges due to CSB, know that the attorneys at Thomas Roughneen and Associates have the legal and military experience to help.