Sexual posttraumatic stress among investigators of child sexual abuse material

Academic Article


  • Abstract The current study aims to examine the sexual posttraumatic stress symptoms (sexual PTSS) among investigators of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Previous findings indicated that sexual PTSS has a unique impact on mental health and well-being compared with traditional PTSS, highlighting a gap in the literature on how exposure to CSAM affects investigators, including their sexual lives. This study sought to fill this gap by examining the sexual PTSS of CSAM investigators. The sample included 500 participants (61% male and 37.4% female) who were police investigators, forensic examiners, and others connected with the criminal justice system across the USA. Participants answered questions about their CSAM exposure and mental health (depression, anxiety, PTSS, and sexual PTSS). The study found that the content of CSAM, mental health symptomatology, being a female investigator, and live streaming of CSAM were associated with increased sexual PTSS. The results suggest that viewing CSAM may affect the sexual response of some investigators and that certain aspects of the job may increase the risk of sexual PTSS. The study highlights the need for wellness programs to provide support related to the possible effects of CSAM on investigators’ sexual response.
  • Authors

  • O'Brien, Jennifer
  • Gewirtz-Meydan, Ateret
  • Mitchell, Kimberly
  • O’Brien, Jennifer E
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 1, 2023
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)


  • 17