Author(s)

Cynthia Mellitz

Date Approved

6-14-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Applied Psychology and Professional Mental Health Counseling

Department

Psychology

College

College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Angelone, DJ

Subject(s)

Adult child sexual abuse victims

Disciplines

Psychiatric and Mental Health

Abstract

The perceptions of how Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) survivors perceive themselves and are perceived by others was evaluated. The aims of the study were to use Attribution Theory and the Traumagenic Model in evaluating whether perceptions were mediated by assertiveness, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships. Additionally examining if CSA survivors differ in perceived levels of these attributes from non-CSA individuals within a college sample was of interest. 35% of the sample exhibited a variety of CSA experiences, with the majority being minimal contact experiences (i.e. sexual invitations or sexual hugging/kissing). Regression analyses indicated that CSA survivors did not differ in their perceptions of a character's level of assertiveness, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships compared to non-CSA individuals when reading a vignette. Further, CSA survivor's own levels of self-esteem, assertiveness, and interpersonal relationship did not mediate perceptions. However, CSA survivors did identify more with the character in the vignette than non-CSA participants and experiencing CSA did predict a participant's self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Further research implications are discussed.

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