Severity of child sexual abuse and revictimization: The mediating role of coping and trauma symptoms

A. Michelle Fortier, David Dilillo, L. Terri Messman-Moore, A. Kathleen Denardi, J. Kathryn Gaffey, James Peugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Child sexual abuse (CSA) has consistently been associated with the use of avoidant coping; these coping methods have been associated with increased trauma symptoms, which have, in turn, been linked to increased risk for adult sexual revictimization. Given these previous findings, the purpose of the current study was to test a model that conceptualized the relationships among these variables. Specifically, CSA severity was conceptualized as leading to the use of avoidant coping, which was proposed to lead to maintenance of trauma symptoms, which would, in turn, impact severity of revictimization indirectly. This comprehensive model was tested in a cross-sectional study of a large, geographically diverse sample of college women. Participants were 99 female undergraduates classified as having experienced CSA who completed measures of abuse history, coping style, current levels of trauma symptoms, and adult sexual revictimization. Multivariate path analysis indicated that the data fit the hypothesized model for verbally coercive, but not physically aggressive, revictimization. Specifically, increased CSA severity was associated with the use of avoidant coping, which, in turn, predicted greater levels of trauma symptomatology and severity of sexual coercion in adulthood. Although cross-sectional in nature, findings from this study suggest that coping strategies and trauma symptoms may represent modifiable factors that place women at increased risk for verbally coercive sexual revictimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-320
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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