Sexual Abuse, Coping, Social Support, Substance Use, Adjustment, Incarcerated Females, College Students
Studies find consistently that survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are likely to suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress, and problematic substance use, and may experience also a variety of adjustment difficulties in several emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal domains. Involvement with the legal system is one such outcome to consider, especially given the increasing number of women serving time in correctional facilities with nearly two-thirds of these women being survivors of CSA (e.g., Browne, Miller, & Maguin, 1999). The current literature lacks comparisons between female survivors of CSA who have legal involvement and those who do not; hence, the current study addresses the need for a comprehensive investigation of early victimizations and later adjustment. Data were obtained from 169 female inmates and 420 female college students, a number of whom were survivors of CSA (66% and 35.5%, respectively), so that group differences could be examined and relationships among family environment, abuse disclosure history, coping, perceived social support, adjustment (i.e., trauma symptoms, substance abuse, depressive symptomatology, revictimization), and criminal history could be explored. Results suggested that inmate survivors experience poorer functioning overall relative to student survivors of CSA, including more depressive symptoms, trauma symptoms, and substance abuse. Further, avoidance coping by using substances mediated fully the relationship between trauma symptoms and substance abuse for both groups. Finally, severity of CSA, problematic substance use, and social support emerged as significant predictors of incarceration among survivors of CSA. Findings may aid in the refinement of interventions, prevention efforts, and educational programs regarding CSA, and shed light on pathways to incarceration.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Asberg, Kia, "Resiliency Factors And Pathways To Incarceration In Female Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse" (2008). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3758.