One Woman Shares How Being Spanked as a Child Affected Her Sexually

by | Jun 24, 2022 | Parenting Young Kids, Sex | 18 comments

Spanked as a Child Affected Fantasies
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The harm from spanking doesn’t always come from the spanking being done in anger, or by terrible parents.

Sometimes the harm comes from good parents who spanked “in love”, exactly how the church taught them to.

When I wrote about the harms from spanking a few weeks ago on the blog, a number of people wrote to me about a consequence I hadn’t mentioned–becoming sexually aroused from the spanking. I wrote about that earlier this week, and went over how the research is confirming a link to corporal punishment as a child influencing our sexual preferences and sexual behaviours as adults, and being associated with masochistic tendencies and with sadistic proclivities, as well as more risky sexual behaviours.

I find this heartbreaking, and since that article was up, the floodgates have opened and I’ve received even more emails and DMs with women explaining how this impacted them.

I’d like to share two such stories, because they perfectly illustrate this. I know we spoke about this earlier this week, but I really want women (and men!) walking through this to know they are not alone, they are not freaks, and this is actually a natural response to what was done to them. 

One woman writes:


I’ve had sexual fantasies about spanking since I was a little kid. I wasn’t even aware of what was happening until it led to an eventual porn and masturbation addiction. It got to the point of where I had to read about or watch videos with corporal punishment for me to get any kind of sexual arousal. Although I have been sober from masturbation and pornography for a couple of years now, I have little to no sex drive. I don’t know if you have an answer to this at all, but I would appreciate if you have any suggestions or resources I could look into. Thank you.

My quick answer is that often our sexual fantasies, especially if they began as children, are rooted in a trauma or a deep wound, where our intimacy wires have been crossed. The porn and masturbation may have reinforced that. Talking with a licensed counselor to work through the roots of those fantasies may help you recover the sex drive that you want and understand better why you’re drawn to this. 

Another woman shares a story that also involves spanking being the root of a porn and masturbation habit: 

I was always an extremely private child–my parents didn’t see me even in my underwear after I was 3 years old.

However, I was spanked up till I was 11, which was the year I got my period. I also really struggled with masturbation beginning when i was very little, and this was an area of deep shame for me. I absolutely felt sexual feelings when I read about corporal punishment and spanking and having to expose my bottom even if in my underwear for spanking was traumatizing for me.

The memories of the last few times I was spanked when I was 11 (I was already wearing a bra) are DEEPLY distressing for me. In my teens I developed an eating disorder, and I know that my desire to not have any curve at my hips or even to possess a bum at all was a major contributing factor to wanting to lose weight.

I still sometimes am woken from sleep with a pounding heart and strong image of being spanked when I was 11. I know it made me feel very emotionally distant from my parents for years and still impacts my relationship with them today, although I’ve only recently made that connection. I can’t think about my bum without thinking about spanking and all the feelings of horrendous shame and embarrassment and violation that went with that. I still feel awkward with any nakedness, even when I’m covered with a bathrobe, the feeling of anything against my skin that makes me conscious of that body part is full of shame for me.

I feel a need to process this and move past it, but I can’t talk to my parents about it. They were always the most loving supportive parents and never intended anything bad at all, and I don’t think they realized how physically mature I was. I mentioned something off-hand to my mum about spanking once (which is something I am now strongly opposed to), and she didn’t know that she and my Dad still spanked me at 11. She doesn’t think they did but they absolutely did (using sticks and paddles etc) and it was deeply traumatic and still makes me feel an intensity of shame, sadness, and anxiety whenever I think about it that I have never experienced another way.

What do you think I can do about this to process it without hurting my parents who I think would be themselves traumatized if they realized how much they hurt me and how many years it continued to impact my relationship with them and my physicality? I still feel like shrinking back when my Dad is around me or gently touches me, and struggle to be emotionally close to him even though he is such a kind man. The memory of the last day when he spanked me is just so awful. I remember walking on the opposite side of the road to my mum because I was just so embarrassed of my physicality when in her presence.

They always thought I just wasn’t a physical person since I didn’t want to be touched or hugged all through my teen years, but I’m actually a deeply physical person I was just so ashamed and confused by my feelings which only came when masturbating or reading about spanking.

Her parents thought they were doing the right thing by spanking, but they pushed her away and trapped her in shame.

My answer to how to get over this is twofold: First, see a licensed counselor to process yourself what you’re feeling.

But then after that you have a choice to make (and a counselor will likely help guide you through that choice). You can’t have real intimacy with people who hurt you when they don’t realize that they hurt you. You can have a good superficial relationship, but you’ll never have real emotional closeness when you’re doing all this work to heal and they don’t even know about the wounds that are so much a part of you.

Some people will decide that a superficial relationship is okay, because the likelihood of the parents understanding the pain and owning it is so low, that going through all that work and opening yourself up to even more potential rejection isn’t worth it. And some people will decide they can’t have a relationship with them unless they do the work.

So I don’t have an easy answer here; it really depends on you and your circumstance. But I do know that you can’t create intimacy one way.

As parents, we don’t want this to be our kids’ stories.

We have the ability to break the cycle. We can parent in a way that isn’t focused on punishment or control, but is instead focused on training kids with emotional connection. It’s such a better way! It’s a more peaceful way. Understanding your kids’ basic needs. Understanding the root of this particular misbehaviour, and dealing with that root, rather than just the behaviour.

And doing it all in a relationship where they feel loved and accepted.

If you missed our Tuesday workshop with Wendy from Fresh Start Families, I can still get you in to the replay! If you registered earlier, you should have received emails with the replay link! If you didn’t register, just sign up for my email list! I’ll be sending out emails this weekend to help people watch the replay. But the replay is only available until next Tuesday, so get in on it now. 

I’m glad this conversation is happening, although I never thought I’d be starting it.

I’ve had a bit of a tough week, because a lot of people have been pushing back on social media, defending John Piper, and I’ve just felt so frustrated and angry that people can’t see the harm that was being done. I tweeted about that anger, and someone replied saying that it’s very likely what I’m really feeling is grief.

And I realized they were totally right.

So I just wanted to leave you all with that thought today: A lot of us are feeling such anger at what we grew up believing and being taught, and how we were treated. And we want others to understand, and they don’t. But maybe what’s really happening is tremendous grief for what you should have had but didn’t. You deserved parents who were emotionally available and were emotionally healthy. You deserved a picture of Jesus who loved you and who wasn’t trying to punish you or make your life terrible. You deserved not to be made to feel less than because you’re a woman, or because you don’t measure up to what the church thinks a man is.

You deserved to not have others try to control you or judge you for things that aren’t wrong.

And I’m sorry if you’re dealing with the repercussions of any of those things right now. All I can say is that I hope we can grieve together!


Being Spanked Affected Sexual Fantasies

What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Codec

    Grief, at what you should have had but did not. Interesting.

    I find it interesting how desires to dominate or be dominated can spring up from our adolescense. Emotional enmeshment can result in the desire to submit. A structure of intense rigidity can result in people pleasing or the desire to dominate.

    I think part of it may also be that for some it is familiar. Familiar even if awful can be better for them than the unknown.

    In trying to understand myself I have seen things that scare me. Legitimate desires to be understood, respected, admired, and shown affection can manifest in strange and uncomfortable ways regarding pornography. I find it scary how deep the human mind is.

    How often do we hurt those we love by trying to love them?

  2. CC

    Very much my story as well. Still haunted by all those childhood beatings with a belt, sometimes hitting us as many as 25 times, and the sexual feelings and fantasies that began before I was even primary school age.

    My mother still boasts about her “spanking” us, and how we should do the same with our girls which we reject outright. We also limit our interactions with them because I don’t feel I can trust them.

    I know I should seek out counseling, but I still don’t even want to talk about it.

    We also left the church in 2016, in part, because of all the toxic marriage and parenting advice not to mention political and racist garbage. and I still feel a deep sense of grief and anger.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear you, CC. I’m so sorry this was done to you, especially in the name of Christ. I’m so sorry.

  3. It All Makes Sense Now

    I don’t remember remember the first or last time I was spanked, but I have a specific memory from when I as about 5 or 6. My parents and I were enjoying TV in the living room after dinner when suddenly both parents became serious and I was told to go to my room. I knew they were upset with me but I had no idea why and no one ever told me why. I remember sitting in my room riddled with anxiety and fear knowing I was going to be spanked with my dad’s leather belt but I could not, for the life of me, recall what I did wrong. Did I have an attitude or was my tone disrespectful? Was I told to do something more than twice and I refused to do it? Maybe I did something at school and they only know realized it. I didn’t know. And I was never told. Instead, I was spanked. But afterwards, I was hugged and told that spanking me was as painful for my parents as it was for me. Yeah, right.

    I grew up believing I was fine. Being spanked was good because even though I didn’t know what I did, I didn’t do it again. But that was the problem: I didn’t do ANYTHING ever. I was too scared because what if I do the thing that got me spanked again? So I became a people-pleaser.

    When I was 11, I became curious about sex. I couldn’t talk to my parents about it, so I turned to the Internet and this began a years-long addiction to pornography and masturbation. The first time I was caught, my dad showed me the crucifixion scene from “The Passion” (Mel Gibson’s version of the gospel story). How ironic, huh? Somebody had to get spanked, but I guess I was officially too old, so I guess Jesus would have to do. I was trauma and to this day, I’ve watched the full movie and I refuse to. But reading this article, I realize a trend in my addiction. I was drawn to corporal punishment in porn, specifically corporal punishment in incest between father and daughter, where there is often no reason for the man to be upset other than he feels like it. Aside from spanking, I was never abused by dad, so I always felt like a freak watching that crap.

    I know my parents believed that their discipline wasn’t only right but also biblical. But the fact is I was deeply traumatized. I’m still traumatized. I don’t talk to my parents on a deep level. They know enough about me, but only enough because I’m afraid they won’t like everything about me. I’m used to being lectured about everything (watching Harry Potter even though I’m adult; my weight; my taste in worship music; etc.) that it’s just easier they know almost nothing about me. I’m tired of keeping them at arm’s length, but loving them from a distance always felt safest. I’ll be 27 next month and I still feel like the little girl who walks on eggshells fearing my next move will cause the next rift. I don’t want that for my future kids. It ends with me.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry for what was done to you! That’s just tragic. To be spanked and not even understand why? (I mean to be spanked is bad enough, but that’s just awful!).

      I’m glad you have some words and framing now for what you felt. And, yes, we can break the cycle!

      • Jane

        I was spanked up to age six and most of the time didn’t know why either. I was just so thankful when I turned six and she said she wouldn’t spank me any more. It was usually from talking back I think.

    • Jo R

      Please, please, PLEASE go read the responses to Bre on yesterday’s podcast post.

      I would repeat to you everything I said to her, and I dare say the others who responded to her would say their same responses to you as well.

      HUGS! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

  4. Jo R

    Yes, yes, yes!

    And almost all of this is applicable to a lot more issues than just spanking and its aftereffects.

    The second reader question just breaks my heart. I definitely understand the dilemma in not wanting to hurt your parents, so she (and we) have to decide which action step hurts the least: cutting off all contact because the unresolved issues are just too painful, and subsequently living with no contact with your parents (or other family members, friends, church community, whoever), telling parents and others that they hurt you which will likely hurt them, possibly living with the fact that explaining how others hurt you but don’t care that they did. There are probably more.

    It’s all a big mess, and clearly many of us have been going through massive revolutions in multiple areas of our lives (a lot of this fallout seems driven by covid mitigation measures).

    Let’s all give ourselves a lot of time, grace, and breaks as we deal with so much upheaval in our hearts, minds, and souls.

  5. Cynthia

    While your previous post was pretty clear, I think it would be helpful to clarify that the main issue here isn’t that some adults may engage in consensual kink, but that CHILDREN are sometimes experiencing stuff that feels sexual to them against their will, from their parents, and feeling deep shame and/or trauma as a result which can continue to affect them throughout their lives.

  6. Alittlebitograce

    Because memories are often stored in our bodies, somatic therapy (also known as somatic experiencing) can be a powerful healing tool in addition to other forms of therapy with a licensed therapist.

    I’m so glad you’re speaking about this, Sheila! Continuing in prayer for you.

  7. Connie

    When I had my first baby, I weighed 100 lb. to start, and the docs were saying don’t gain more than 14 lbs. total. And don’t breast-feed, we have invented something better. ( I noticed that babies got all excited when seeing a bottle, and not so much when seeing mom – they were supposed to learn to hold their own bottle as soon as possible) And don’t spoil your baby, let ‘it’ cry, only pick ‘it’ up every 4 hours, make ‘it’ sleep through the night from the start. In the hospital, I got to watch him scream, through a window, and wasn’t allowed to touch him except for a few minutes every 4 hours. Some mothers weren’t allowed to see baby for the first 3 days, because she needed her rest. And, she’d been completely under sedation, so that first rush of oxytocin and bonding was completely missing. (I fought all that, and wasn’t at all popular at the hospital) My mother said, oh yes, breast-feed, but make him sleep through the night, etc. Spank, no don’t spank, blah, blah, blah. So some spanked, some didn’t, but beat them with words. Some let the child make all the decisions, some none.

    What I’m trying to say is that 1. We tend to have white coat syndrome, doing whatever the doc says, because it’s ‘scientific’. 2. No sooner do we say we are ‘under grace’ than we make a whole new set of rules, and we are always looking for someone to follow, to look up to and idolize, and then that person becomes a little god.

    My last child was born 20 years later. I learned along the way that the answers are all in the Book, and the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to interpret those answers to my specific needs. And that way, it comes from the heart, not from ‘rules’ and not out of an angry reaction to what our own parents did or did not do. We can get some ideas from others, but they don’t have it all right, either, and circumstances are unique.

    My generation has had a lot of trouble connecting, I’m sure largely because of the way we were started out, but Jesus can heal all that. Let’s be careful that we don’t now raise a generation of narcissists. It can happen. Leaning on our own understanding has never been a good plan. It seems to make sense in the moment, but later one may find out otherwise. Cry out to God. Again and again. And be there for each other.

  8. SL

    I’m feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut. This pieces together why I got addicted to BDSM. It was the only way I could get aroused. I’ve spanked my girls because I truly thought it was the only way to deal with disobedience. My oldest (8) has begged for the last 2yrs to go pee immediately following a spanking. I’ve always thought either she could stand me in that moment and was coming up with excuses to create space between us. Now I get it. This grieves me and makes me want to vomit. We stopped spanking 2ish months ago because what I keep learning on here. I shared a link from earlier this week with 2 of my dear church friends that have walked through me all of my crap since having kids….they’ve been challenged (they say it’s a compliment) with everything that I keep learning about sex, etc because of your books. But they absolutely draw the line on hierarchy and spanking. Both are biblical and they are concerned that I’m moving into gray areas that the Bible is so black and white on. It hurts. Because of the trauma of my extreme conservative legalistic church I grew up in and now to feel like I’m once again loosing the closeness I desire and have had with these dear friends. I want to keep sharing with them, but their responses hurt me. I know I’m extra sensitive 🥺.

    • Sarah

      Nothing wrong with being extra sensitive. That’s the way God made you & it’s by that sensitivity you are seeing & making room for this change that is taking into account your total child. What a gift! Even if it doesn’t feel like it now. I’m sensitive as well & have found the space given from friends that aren’t truly friends gives room for closeness with God. Praying that for you & the right friends in God’s timing. Courage & peace!

  9. Kathryn

    Wow, all these years I never understood why I felt aroused as a child whenever I read about another child being spanked, or witnessed it from another family. So much confusion, and shame finally making sense.
    Thank you for starting this conversation!!

  10. Jill Murray

    We were spanked weekly by our father for anything that happened during the week. Maintenance spankings I guess. All four were completely naked. We had to watch each get spanked. I now realize it wasn’t right. I know it made the 3 girls to become obsessed with masturbation after this. I’m sure my brother too. We don’t talk about it but I feel it was abuse.

  11. Robert

    Not sure I can agree with all of this.not sure some of the things people blame on someone else’s ie spankings would not have still ended up the same if they weren’t spanked.seems to me we are always looking for someone to blame and find a way out of taking on our own responsibilities

    • Bethany

      All studies on the subject of spanking compare the statistic of people who were spanked to others who weren’t spanked, so no, things don’t “end up the same if they weren’t spanked”. Sounds to me like you need to actually read and do your research instead of just skipping to the comments to spout off.

      Sounds to me like people just want an excuse to keep hitting kids because it pleases them and makes them feel powerful.

      To which “”responsibilities”” do you refer….? I see men say that a lot during discussions of sexual abuse, abuse, rape, ect. “Take responsibility for yourself”–okay. What specific actions do you want people to perform to fulfill these “responsibilities”……? What specific course of action do you imagine when you think of someone “taking responsibility”? What responsibilities do you refer to…..?

      In the absence of an answer to what exactly these mysterious “”responsibilities”” men always vaguely refer to actually are, the unspoken implication seems to be “take responsibility by accepting that you deserved it”.


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