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An investigation and comparison of the long-term psychological effects of childhood sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and re-victimisation in adult females


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O'Connor, Jennifer Mary 2007 , 'An investigation and comparison of the long-term psychological effects of childhood sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and re-victimisation in adult females', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The present thesis investigated the similarities and differences in the long-term
consequences of three different types of sex abuse namely, childhood sexual abuse, adult
sexual assault, and childhood sexual abuse followed by adult sexual assault, in order to
assess and compare the effect of each type of sex abuse on anxiety, depression and
trauma symptoms, perceived self-esteem and self-esteem in interpersonal functioning and
general coping styles. Eighty-eight adult female participants were classified into a
childhood sexual abuse group (n = 21), an adult sexual assault group (n = 22), a re
victimised group (n = 23) and a control group (n = 22). The participants were recruited
from a Sexual Assault Support Service, a university sample, and a community sample in
Hobart, Tasmania. All participants completed an Interview Schedule, the Clinical
Analysis Questionnaire, the Trauma Symptom Inventory, the Self-Description
Questionnaire III and the Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced scale. The results
of multivariate and univariate analyses of variance showed a general negative effect in
the three sex abuse groups, reflected in a decrease in general self-esteem, an increase in a
negative emotionality factor, and an increase in trauma symptoms relative to the control
group. A comparison of the three sex abuse groups showed that the effects of the three
kinds of abuse were similar for general self-esteem and trauma, but the re-victimised
group showed significantly higher levels of negative emotionality, and more impulsive
and disinhibited behaviour, referred to as Psychopathic Deviation on the Clinical
Analysis Questionnaire, and lower levels of confidence in dealing with the opposite sex
relative to the other sex abuse groups. Within the three sex abuse groups there was
variation in the level of symptoms reported. Few of the abuse or assault characteristics
were found to be associated with outcome. An analysis of correlations between the
measures revealed three broad patterns of response to sex abuse in the long-term. One
pattern was an increase in negative emotionality, a decrease in self-esteem and a decrease
in confidence in interacting with the opposite sex. A second pattern revealed an increase
in general trauma symptoms. A third pattern involved an increase in Psychopathic
Deviation, an increase in substance use to cope and a decrease in confidence in Parent
Relations. It is concluded that sex abuse has several relatively independent negative
effects on self-esteem, negative emotionality, and trauma symptoms. Victims of re
victimisation experienced more negative emotionality, which included anxiety and
depression related symptoms.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:O'Connor, Jennifer Mary
Keywords: Child sexual abuse, Adult child abuse victims, Sexual abuse victims
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2007 the author

Additional Information:

Available for library use only but NOT for copying until 4 July 2009. After that date, available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references. 1. Overview of the conceptual basis of the long-term effects of sex abuse -- 2. The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse -- 3. The long-term effects of adult sexual assault -- 4. The long-term effects of re-victimisation -- 5. Overview of the long-term effects of the types of sex abuse and the aims of the study -- 6. Method -- 7. Demographic information: results and discussion -- 8. Self-description questionnaire: results and discussion -- 9. Coping orientation to problems experienced: results and discussion -- 10. Trauma symptom inventory: results and discussion -- 11. Clinical analysis questionnaire: results and discussion -- 12. The relationships between scales, the sex abuse characteristics and background characteristics -- 13. Summary, general discussion and conclusions

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