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Schaeffer (2009) defines sexual addiction as “an obsessive-compulsive behaviour or excessive sexual behaviour that if left unattended causes severe distress and despair for the individual or partner”. There are a bunch of other terms that have been used to refer to this condition. Such terms include: nymphomania, hyper sexuality, sexual perversion, among others. This is prevalent in people who use sex as means of fixing some of their problems or shortcomings. Some of the dire consequences of sexual addiction include, though not limited to, loss of employment, break ups in relationships, mismanagement of finances and emotional breakdown. In most cases the victims are not usually aware that they are suffering from sexual addiction but find themselves doing what they wouldn’t have under normal circumstances. In her book, Schaeffer (2009) wrote that sexual addiction just like other types addiction for instance addiction to alcohol is usually an unconscious habit which manifests itself like a “compulsive ritual” to the extend the victim feels like he or she does not have any choice but to fulfil his/her sexual desire. In some instances it is not usually a sexual desire that has to be fulfilled but at time but may be due to loneliness or neglect a person might opt to watch pornography, as an example, just to make him or her be preoccupied and to forget what he/she is going through (Schaeffer, 2009). It’s also been noted that sexual addiction often coexist alongside other addiction mainly substance and drug addiction.(Handerson, 2001) While some researchers claim the sexual addiction in men and women is not an eyebrow raising phenomenon, sexual addiction can cause various negative consequences. Some of these consequences are discussed below.
Crossing of sexual boundaries and victimisation as a legal consequence; in many instances the sexual addicts have been cited by many as extremely dangerous to the vulnerable members of the society. The addicts lure children and abuse them sexually, they sodomise the defenceless young, unmoved by blood relations, they hear nothing incest, rape their victims and in some extreme cases hold hostage in sexual bondage the meek. This quite often put them in unending legal tussles with the authorities who would take no chance in letting them thrive in such strong cases of impunity. The addicts therefore bear the brunt of their unwillingness to check and bring to control the level of sexual craving. This means that there is usually a great deal of time lost as the addicts fight for their space to continue with the awful behaviour.
Emotional displeasure and physical discomfort: sexual addiction comes with mood altering experiences of arousal, serious levels of fantasy and satiation that open doors for emotional attachment and the undying desire to satisfy the craving (Schaeffer, 2009). For example, the extents that the society has gotten itself where minds are groomed to simply “sexualize others’’ that is, the tendency to visualize others as sexual object such that everyone that one is introduced to is not looked at in a way to appreciate them as attractive but simply scrutinising the individual for sexual possibilities. This particularly means that one is victimised into becoming preoccupied with just such thoughts as well as seductive skills that are to ensure that the appetites are fed. Sexual addiction if not checked properly and suppressed also takes an emotional as well as psychological toll on female victims which becomes even hard to measure but with rather similar devastating effects. After failing to put up with relationships that seemingly were unsatisfying, it creates a feeling of poor self esteem, negative beliefs and even “self-fulfilling prophecy that no one will love her or meet her needs” (Ferree & Laaser, 2010).
Health related issues and unwanted pregnancy in women: in a world that grapples with the challenges of sexually transmitted infections and diseases, being a sex addict puts one in an almost certain position to contract at least one (if not all) of the most dreaded of such infections. With the sexually Transmitted diseases (STDs) reaching such levels of epidemic almost in every country, it cannot be explained better the high risks addicts expose themselves to in their obsession with sexual pleasures. The level and frequencies of indulgence by sex addicts cannot assure them safe sex (even if they wished for it), since the addicts have multiple partners whose statuses are often not predetermined. These diseases could be the dreaded Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the hated cervical cancer in women, the herpes as well as other venereal infections such as syphilis, gonorrhoea among others. Moreover, the negative effects of sex addiction particularly cannot be mentioned without indicating the most probable –unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy that is unplanned for is actually the most obvious negative consequence and has a “long term ramifications whether the woman chooses abortion, adoption or parenting the child” (Ferree & Laaser, 2010). Most of sexually addicted women prefer abortion as a way of dealing with the unwanted pregnancy. However the guilt of doing this form part of their lives and some would prefer taken off their lives or even commit suicide by themselves. It is therefore important that addicts understand these health risks that underlie such dangerous search for pleasure.
Marital and general relationships troubles; although each one of us to some good extent faces relationship troubles in one way or the other, its important here to mention that the level of instability in relationships among addicts and other people is seriously impaired. The addicts face unstable relationship with friends, romantic partners and even with co-workers. Sexual addiction at best strains marriages to the extents that the addict whether the man or the woman is more often than not, unnecessarily angry with the partner. Here the partner tries his own way of coping up which even further complicates the matter (Ferree & Laaser, 2010). This causes significant, chronic distress. The addicts particularly women have “insatiable need for attention, validation and reassurance. She may demand closeness and overreacts if she thinks a partner is distancing from her” (Ferree & Laaser, 2010).
Impact on families: another visible impact of sexual addiction is noticed in families and particularly the effect on perfect bringing up of children. Since women are the generally recognised primary caregivers, the addiction on the part of a wife has greater impacts on the child. The fact that the women would be soliciting for sexual favours outside means they would be having less time to spend with their babies. Nevertheless, a child’s emotional needs suffer when the father is the partner of a sex addict and has therefore has to shoulder the entire nurturing role alone.
Addiction to cybersex, unlimited engagement with online pornography has also been cited to create rifts in families. A survey of partners of cybersex addicts found out that among 68% of the couples, one or both had lost interest in relational sex; 51% of the addicts had decreased interest in sex with their spouse, as did 34% of the partners (Schneider, 2000a). This means that there is loss of interest in sexual activity with the primary partner who in this case is the wife. This results from the fact that usually the images over the pornographic sites usually pose as young and more beautiful and in many cases would be willing to engage in, or talk about sexual activities that they themselves cannot do in a real sexual encounter (Coombs, 2004)
Decreased productivity or even loss of job: amongst the most dreaded consequences of sexual addiction is the possibility of a victim losing a job or seriously hindering work performance at the office (Coombs, 2004). The levels of sexual indulgence by the addicts might mean extending this illness to the work place where the individual could harass workmates, engage in sexual encounters in the office instead of attending to office business as well as spending significant time on internet pornography or even cybersex. The addict uncontrollably turns the office into yet another platform for seeking for sexual gratification and fulfilment. In many cases the person can solicit for sex from junior workers or seek such favours in exchange of opportunities in the workplace for people in need of them. The addict is therefore culpable of many an office malpractices whose revelations can lead to penalties ranging from instant dismissal, demotion, suspension to even reprimands.
Though sexual addiction is considered as an illness among medical practitioners, proper checks and controls should be encouraged among victims so as to ensure their continued participation in development agenda in their families and outside in the social set ups of their societies. Victims should be encouraged to be open about their conditions and seek redress in rehabilitation centres. This can be done by sensitizing the addicts on the devastating consequences they expose themselves to as well as their relations.