Disclosure and its Perceived Impact as Mediators of the Long-Term Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse
Description: The primary purpose of the present study was to investigate factors associated with childhood sexual abuse which mediate long-term effects. Of particular interest were the mediators of disclosure and its perceived impact, as well as variables related to the severity of the abuse. Also of interest were impact areas related to a history of molestation which have received little attention in the literature. Five hundred and seventy-five female undergraduates completed an extensive questionnaire with measures of family background, childhood and adult sexual experiences, health status, and psychological variables. Of these subjects, 286 reported at least one incident of child sexual abuse. It was hypothesized that those females with histories of sexual abuse who received a positive response to their disclosure of abuse would demonstrate more adaptive adult functioning as compared to those victims receiving a negative response, or those who never disclosed. Significant differences were not detected among the three groups on the outcome measures. A number of reasons were explored for why these differences may not have been detected in the present investigation. Although differences were not detected for disclosure status, significant differences were detected between females reporting a history of child sexual abuse and those reporting no abuse on all of the outcome measures. Specifically, sexual abuse victims were more likely than nonvictims to be sexually revictimized in adulthood. Potential explanations for this finding were explored in a discriminant function analysis predicting revictimization status. Further, abused females had significantly higher levels of depression, dissociation, and perceptual disturbances when compared to their nonabused peers. Sexual abuse victims also reported more health symptoms across various bodily systems and had more negative attributions about their physical health status. Differences between the abused and nonabused groups on levels of perceptual disturbance and perceived physical health status are particularly noteworthy since previous research ...
Date: October 1992
Creator: Phelan-McAuliffe, Debra