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Trauma symptomatology and adult revictimization as outcomes of childhood sexual abuse: A comprehensive model to clarify the intervening role of coping

Michelle A Fortier, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This investigation examined the role of coping style in the relationship between child sexual abuse and two dependent variables: adult psychological distress and revictimization. Research has highlighted the importance of coping as a potential intervening variable in the outcomes associated with a history of child sexual abuse. More specifically, abuse survivors report the use of avoidance methods of coping, which has been found to be associated with negative long-term outcomes. One commonly studied outcome variable is trauma symptomatology (often conceptualized as psychological distress) and coping has been proposed as a mediating variable in the child sexual abuse-adult distress relationship. An additional factor of particular relevance to sexual abuse survivors is the experience of repeated sexual assault in adulthood. Coping has been suggested as a potential mediator in the child sexual abuse-revictimization association. However, some authors have questioned whether coping may actually be a process response that moderates the relationship between a stressor and some outcome. ^ Thus, the present study examined coping in both a mediational and a moderational framework in the relationship between child sexual abuse and both trauma symptoms and revictimization. Participants were 99 female undergraduates who were classified as having experienced sexual abuse in childhood. Respondents completed Web-based questionnaires to assess abuse history, coping strategies, psychological distress, and revictimization. Results indicated that the relationship between child sexual abuse and trauma symptomatology in adulthood was no longer significant after controlling for disengagement coping style. In addition, greater levels of trauma symptomatology were found to account for the positive association between child sexual abuse and revictimization in adulthood. Lastly, a comprehensive path model illustrated that child sexual abuse was indirectly related to revictimization, through the effects of both disengagement coping and trauma symptomatology. Limitations and implications for both research and clinical practice are discussed, as well as directions for future research. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Fortier, Michelle A, "Trauma symptomatology and adult revictimization as outcomes of childhood sexual abuse: A comprehensive model to clarify the intervening role of coping" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3208130.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3208130

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