Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

May 2001


Published in Clinical Psychology Review, 21 (2001), pp. 553–576. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. Used by permission.


A subset of research exploring the long-term impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) has examined the adult interpersonal functioning of female survivors. The present review discusses empirical findings and critical methodological issues related to this important but often overlooked aspect of adult adjustment. Though characterized by several methodological limitations, this literature, as a whole, suggests that early sexual abuse represents a risk factor for a range of interpersonal dysfunction among female survivors, including problems with intimate partner relations, disturbed sexual functioning, and difficulties in the parental role. Suggested methodological improvements for future research include new approaches to the measurement of CSA and interpersonal variables, the need for comprehensive assessment of significant third variables, and the use of more representative sampling strategies.