Parenting Characteristics of Women Reporting a History of Childhood Sexual Abuse

David DiLillo, Amy Damashek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


This article reviews research on the parenting characteristics of female survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Various aspects of parenting are considered, including (a) childbearing patterns, (b) the intergenerational transmission of CSA, (c) maternal reactions to child CSA disclosure, (d) parenting skills and behaviors, (e) parental violence toward children, (f) attitudes toward parenting, and (g) adjustment of survivors'children. Overall patterns suggest CSA survivors may experience difficulties with some aspects of parenting. Among the more consistent trends are findings that survivors may have difficulties establishing clear generational boundaries with their children, may be more permissive as parents, and may be more likely to use harsh physical discipline. Despite associations between CSA and parenting difficulties, the limited research addressing specific aspects of parenting, and limitations in study design, preclude causal inferences and make conclusions tentative at the present time. The clinical implications of this work and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-333
Number of pages15
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Child abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Parenting
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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