Research has consistently linked residual trauma-related shame among child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors to sexual revictimization, health risk behaviors, and poorer response to mental health treatment. However, questions remain regarding the imprint of childhood maltreatment on trauma-related shame including which CSA characteristics or types of childhood maltreatment contribute to residual shame in adulthood. Using data drawn from a prospective study of 174 primarily African American women with histories of CSA and a matched comparison group, this study explores whether specific characteristics of CSA (familial CSA, CSA with penetration, force used by CSA perpetrator), repeat sexual victimization in adolescence, childhood physical abuse, childhood neglect, and childhood commercial sexual exploitation contribute to the level of trauma-related psychosexual shame reported during adulthood. Ordinal logistic regression revealed that the analyzed characteristics of CSA did not result in higher levels of shame. However, repeated sexual victimization during adolescence, childhood physical abuse, childhood neglect, and childhood commercial sexual exploitation resulted in higher levels of trauma-related shame reported in adulthood. For treatment providers, these findings highlight the critical need to address and treat trauma-related shame with clients who have experienced maltreatment or sexual exploitation during childhood.
University of Rhode Island
Reid, J. (2018). The imprint of childhood abuse on trauma-related shame in adulthood. Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence. 3(1) Article 4. doi: 10.23860/dignity.2018.03.01.04
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