ERIC Number: EJ768329
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Reference Count: N/A
Childhood Sexual Abuse, Attachment, and Trauma Symptoms in College Females: The Moderating Role of Attachment
Aspelmeier, Jeffery E.; Elliott, Ann N.; Smith, Christopher H.
Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, v31 n5 p549-566 May 2007
Objective: The present study tests a model linking attachment, childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and adult psychological functioning. It expands on previous work by assessing the degree to which attachment security moderates the relationship between a history of child sexual abuse and trauma-related symptoms in college females. Method: Self-reports of attachment, childhood sexual abuse, and adult psychological functioning were obtained from 324 female undergraduate students attending a Southeastern U.S. university. Separate analyses were conducted examining the potential moderating role for close-adult, parent-child, and peer attachment styles. Results: In this sample, 37.7% of participants reported sexually abusive experiences prior to age 16. History of child sexual abuse was consistently associated with higher levels of trauma-related symptoms and lower levels of attachment security in close-adult, parent-child, and peer relations. Additionally, attachment security was consistently associated with trauma-related symptoms. Close-adult, parent-child, and peer attachment differentially moderated trauma-related symptoms. Specifically, in peer relationships, the strength of the relationships between attachment measures and trauma symptoms were greater for CSA survivors than for non-abused participants. The opposite pattern of results was found for attachment in parental and close-adult relationships. Conclusion: Results suggest that attachment security in peer and parent relationships protects against the negative effects of CSA, while only weak, marginally significant protective effects were observed for close-adult relationships. Only modest support was found for the conceptualization of attachment as a moderator of the relationship between CSA and trauma-related symptoms. However, the results suggest that attachment security at least partially protects against negative CSA outcomes.
Descriptors: Undergraduate Students, Females, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Attachment Behavior, Psychological Patterns, Symptoms (Individual Disorders), Correlation, Parent Child Relationship, Peer Relationship, Adults
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States