Use of sexual intercourse to reduce negative affect as a prospective mediator of sexual revictimization

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Abstract

Increased risk of adult sexual assault (ASA) among women who experienced child sexual abuse (CSA) is well established. The strategies these women use to reduce negative affect secondary to CSA, such as sexual contact, may mediate the link between CSA and later ASA. Two waves of data from a racially diverse sample (i.e., 46% Black, 46.1% White, 7.9% other) of community women (N = 776) were analyzed using structural equation modeling. A history of CSA was associated with a twofold increase in the likelihood of experiencing ASA between the two measurement occasions (approximately 6 years). Psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety) and use of sex to reduce negative affect partially mediated the relation between CSA and prospective ASA. Implications for the treatment of CSA and prevention of sexual assault are discussed.

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