Chronic avoidance helps explain the relationship between severity of childhood sexual abuse and psychological distress in adulthood.
Recent studies have found that chronic avoidance of unpleasant internal experiences (e.g., thoughts, emotions, memories) is a maladaptive means of affect regulation often adopted by women with a history of sexual victimization in childhood. The primary aim of this study was to replicate and extend previous findings suggesting that higher levels of experiential avoidance may account for the relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and psychological distress in adulthood. It was hypothesized that, in a sample of undergraduate females (n = 151), the relationship between severity of CSA (e.g., frequency, nature of victimization) and trauma-related psychological distress would be mediated by avoidance. Results supported this hypothesis. Findings are consistent with previous studies, and further suggest that the general tendency to avoid or escape from unpleasant internal experiences may be a specific factor that exacerbates psychological distress among women with a history of sexual victimization in childhood.
Rosenthal, MZ; Rasmussen Hall, ML; Palm, KM; Batten, SV; Follette, V
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