Personal Mastery Buffers the Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Women’s Health and Family Functioning
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Personal mastery has been associated with many positive outcomes and may attenuate negative responses to life stressors. Our research extends prior work by examining whether personal mastery can buffer women from long-term outcomes associated with childhood sexual abuse (CSA). We expected that: (1) women with CSA histories would report more depressive symptoms, poorer family functioning, and more physical health problems compared to women without such histories; (2) personal mastery would be associated with better outcomes in these domains; and (3) personal mastery would attenuate the effects of CSA on women’s outcomes. Data were obtained from a larger study of parenting among women with and without CSA histories. Our predictions were fully supported for depressive symptoms and family dysfunction, and partially supported for physical health. The current findings contribute to knowledge about the long-term effects of CSA and identify a protective factor that may buffer the negative sequelae of traumatic events.
KeywordsSexual trauma Child maltreatment Coping Longitudinal Depression Physical health
The data used in this study were made available by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Data from the Parenting Among Women Sexually Abused in Childhood, 1998, study were originally collected by Mary I. Benedict. Funding for this study was provided by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Contract #90-CA-1544. Funding support for preparing the data for public distribution was provided by Contract #90-CA-1370 between the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and Cornell University. Neither the collector of the original data, the funder, the Archive, Cornell University, or its agents or employees bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.
Antonette King was supported by the Council of Social Work Education’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellowship Program.
We are grateful to Lorraine Gutierrez, Beth Reed, Elizabeth Cole, Edith Lewis, and the members of the UM Personality, Relationships, and Hormones research lab for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and to Emily Shipman for her assistance in its preparation.
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