The Association between Women’s History of Sexual Abuse, Mental Health, and Sexual Motivations in Committed Intimate Relationships

Roi Estlein, Ronit Smadar Dror, Zeev Winstok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In committed intimate relationships, motivations for engaging in or avoiding sexual relations can indicate partners’ perceptions, needs, and attitudes toward sexual intimacy, and reflect sexual functioning. Sexual motivations can be positive, reflecting and advancing relational goals, such as establishing and maintaining closeness between partners and pleasure, or negative, stemming out of fear of one’s partner, pleasing them, or depriving sexual contact to punish the partner or establish relational power. In this study, we extended the current conceptualization and assessment of negative sexual motivations to explore the associations between women’s history of sexual abuse, their mental health, and their negative sexual motivations. Structural equation modeling results from 236 adult Israeli women who were in committed intimate relationships indicated that a woman’s history of sexual abuse negatively predicted her mental health which, in turn, negatively predicted her negative sexual motivations. Mental health mediated the association between a woman’s history of sexual abuse and her negative sexual motivations. These findings have theoretical and empirical contributions to research in terms of the short- and long-term effects of sexual abuse on women, mental health, and women’s sexuality. Their clinical implications for mental health professionals, sexual therapists, and clinicians working with women who experience sexual abuse are also discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number389
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2024


  • depression
  • intimate relationships
  • mental health
  • sexual motivations
  • women’s sexual abuse

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Leadership and Management


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