Childhood abuse and sexual risk-taking in women: The impact of childhood physical abuse and age of sexual initiation on women's maladaptive posttraumatic cognitions

Amy D. Marshall, Feea R. Leifker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Child abuse survivors often exhibit long-standing maladaptive beliefs. Sexual risk-taking could contribute to the maintenance of such beliefs by reinforcing cognitions that originally resulted from child abuse. In this study, 64 community women, most with elevated posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, completed measures of childhood abuse, sexual risk-taking, and posttraumatic cognitions. Age of first consensual sexual intercourse mediated the relationship between childhood physical abuse and maladaptive posttraumatic cognitions in adulthood. Thus, age of sexual intercourse initiation might play an important role in women's recovery from childhood physical abuse. Clinicians should consider the possible impact of women's sexual history when challenging their cognitions during trauma-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Further, decreasing risky sexual behavior might partially protect against the negative effects of trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-150
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 7 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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