Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Bill N. Kinder, Ph.D.

Keywords

Childhood sexual abuse, Psychopathology, Abuse severity, Parenting

Abstract

Research has shown childhood sexual abuse (CSA) to be related to many negative outcomes in adulthood including psychopathology. Findings in this area, however, are very inconsistent, with the relationship between CSA and adult outcomes varying greatly across studies. This relationship is further complicated by the co-occurrence with CSA of other risk factors in childhood. The present study examines the prediction of adult psychopathology, measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI; Derogatis, 1982), made by CSA, measured by the Early Sexual Experiences Survey (ESE; Bartoi & Kinder, 1998), childhood SES (Hollingshead, 1975), parental bonding, as measured by the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI; Parker, Tupling, & Brown, 1979), and parental separation/divorce. It was hypothesized that CSA, SES, PBI, and parental separation/divorce would significantly predict BSI scores. It was also hypothesized that CSA would significantly predict BSI scores beyond the variance accounted for by the other variables. Results indicated that all predictor variables were significantly related to BSI score in the hypothesized direction, except for childhood SES which was found to be unrelated to BSI score in adulthood. A regression model including parental care, overprotection, and divorce/separation significantly predicted BSI score. When objective and subjective CSA severity scores were added to the equation, the amount of variance in BSI score accounted for significantly increased. Amounts of shared variance were quite high, but results indicated that CSA severity accounts for variance in adult psychological functioning beyond that accounted for by parental care, overprotection, and divorce.

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