This longitudinal study examines the effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) on the intimate and marital relationships of adult survivors from a sample composed primarily of African American women. In addition, the authors explore the protective role of maternal support. Interview data are collected on 136 women with documented histories of CSA who indicate the quality and nature of their current marital relationships and other interpersonal connections. Results suggest that CSA survivors with poor maternal attachment are more likely to enter into marital or cohabiting relationships. However, more severe sexual trauma in childhood correlates with greater marital dissatisfaction. Good maternal attachment during childhood has a negative main effect on adult interpersonal problems and a buffering effect on the relationship between abuse and marital dissatisfaction. These data can help guide future research on the adult relational outcomes of female CSA survivors, especially among minority populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Child sexual abuse
- Maternal attachment