Dysfunctional cognitions and adult psychological functioning in child sexual abuse survivors

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Abstract

Two studies explored the relationship between cognitions and long-term symptoms in adult child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors. In Study 1, an American sample of 43 survivors completed questionnaires assessing attributional style and dysfunctional beliefs in cognitive themes affected by victimization, as well as measures of posttraumatic symptoms. Survivors' attributions of negative events were more internal, stable, and global than those of 29 comparison subjects without a history of CSA. However, only the globality scale was significantly related with severity of long-term symptoms. High correlations between dysfunctional beliefs concerning safety, trust, esteem, or intimacy, and posttrauma symptoms were found. The latter finding was replicated in Study 2 with a German sample of 35 CSA survivors, even when controlling for frequency of abuse.

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