Pathway to Expectations of Child Functioning Following Sexual Abuse: Caregiver Maltreatment History and Depressive Symptoms

Akemi E. Mii, Kelsey McCoy, Hannah M. Coffey, Mary Fran Flood, David J. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Caregiver responses and behaviors often play a significant role in a child’s recovery following child sexual abuse (CSA). Caregiver expectations of their child’s postabuse functioning has been associated with child symptoms, such that negative expectations lead to worse outcomes for the child. Additionally, caregivers who experienced maltreatment in their own childhood may face difficulties providing support to their child after CSA. Caregivers’ own psychological symptoms may influence their expectations for their child’s future functioning following CSA. This study utilized structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the association between caregivers’ childhood maltreatment histories, their expectations for their child’s future functioning following CSA, and the indirect effect of caregiver depressive symptoms on this relationship. Participants were 354 nonoffending caregivers presenting to treatment with their child following CSA disclosure. Caregivers were 23-72 years old (M = 38.38, SD = 8.02), predominately white, and predominately biological mothers to the youth who were abused. Results indicated that caregivers who experienced maltreatment in childhood were more likely to experience depressive symptoms, which then lead to more negative expectations of their child’s future functioning. As negative expectations are associated with poorer outcomes for children following CSA, increased attention to caregivers’ depressive symptoms in treatment may promote more positive expectations for their child’s postabuse functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • child abuse
  • family issues and mediators
  • sexual abuse
  • treatment/intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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