Is adaptive coping possible for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse?
ABSTRACT Thirty adult women survivors of childhood sexual abuse who believed they were functioning well were selected through advertisements in local newspapers and presentations at an incest-survivor support group. Subjects were assessed by a battery of structured diagnostic interviews and standardized psychological measures, including the MMPI, the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40, and the Dissociative Experiences Scale. The results showed the existence of a subgroup of survivors of childhood sexual abuse who do not have devastating long-term psychological effects. Better adult psychological functioning was predicted by certain characteristics of the abuse, the family system, and the survivors.
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ABSTRACT: Recent literature has emphasized the simultaneous assessment of multiple physiological stress response systems in an effort to identify biobehavioral risk factors of psychopathology in maltreated populations. The current study assessed whether an asymmetrical stress response, marked by activation in one system and a blunted response in another system, predicted higher levels of psychopathology over time. Data were collected from an ongoing, prospective study of females with a substantiated history of childhood sexual abuse (n=52) and a non-abused comparison group (n=77). Childhood sexual abuse was determined at the initial study visit. Vagal tone and cortisol were measured 7 years later to assess physiological response to a laboratory stressor across these systems. Depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors were assessed 6 years after the completion of the laboratory stressor. Structural equation modeling indicated that a prior history of childhood sexual abuse predicted an asymmetrical physiological response to stress in late adolescence. In turn, this asymmetrical response predicted both higher levels of depression and antisocial behaviors in young adulthood. Childhood sexual abuse may sensitize females to respond to moderate daily stressors in a manner that places them at higher risk for experiencing depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors over time. The management of mild to moderate stress in the everyday lives of maltreated females may be a particularly useful point of intervention in order to protect against later psychopathology.Child abuse & neglect 10/2010; 34(10):752-61. DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.02.010 · 2.34 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Despite the theorized centrality of experiential avoidance in abuse-related psychopathology, empirical examinations of the relationship between childhood abuse and experiential avoidance remain limited. The present study adds to the extant literature on this relationship, providing a laboratory-based investigation of the relationships between childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, experiential avoidance (indexed as unwillingness to persist on 2 psychologically distressing laboratory tasks), and self-reported emotional nonacceptance among a sample of 76 inner-city treatment-seeking substance users. As hypothesized, results provide evidence for heightened experiential avoidance and emotional nonacceptance among individuals with moderate-severe sexual, physical, and emotional abuse (compared to individuals reporting none-low abuse). However, although emotional nonacceptance was associated with increased risk for experiential avoidance, it mediated the relationship between childhood abuse and experiential avoidance only for emotional abuse. As such, results suggest that one mechanism through which emotional abuse in particular leads to experiential avoidance is emotional nonacceptance. Findings suggest the utility of interventions aimed at decreasing experiential avoidance and promoting emotional acceptance among abused individuals.Behavior Therapy 10/2007; 38(3):256-68. DOI:10.1016/j.beth.2006.08.006 · 2.43 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to identify predictors of resilience and adult mental disorders in women with a history of childhood sexual abuse. This cross-sectional study was conducted in a family practice center using adult female (age 18-40) patients. Outcome measures assessed the prevalence of major depressive episode, panic disorder, agoraphobia, substance abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, bulimia, and suicidality. Seventy-six percent of the 90 women with sufficient data met criteria for at least one adult disorder. Mental health was related to high SES, lack of family alcohol abuse, lower frequency of first perpetrator abuse, and few perpetrators. Specifics of the abuse were associated with development of borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, major depressive episode, suicidality, bulimia, agoraphobia, and panic disorder. Maternal violence against the father, substance abuse within the household of origin, and maternal care and overprotection were also important. The specifics about the abuse and the family environment during childhood are important predictors of adult psychopathology.Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 05/2005; 193(4):258-64. DOI:10.1097/01.nmd.0000158362.16452.2e · 1.81 Impact Factor