The Moderating Role of Meaning and Defense Mechanisms in the Association between Child Sexual Abuse and Romantic Relationship Dysfunction
Degree Granting Department
Bill Kinder, Ph.D.
Michael Brannick, Ph.D.
Vicky Phares, Ph.D.
Charles Spielberger, Ph.D.
Joseph Vandello, Ph.D.
Trauma, Relationship adjustment, Psychological adjustment, Coping, Moderator
The current study investigated whether finding meaning in relation to sexual trauma and using mature defense mechanisms would moderate the association between child sexual abuse (CSA) severity and relationship and psychological adjustment in a sample of undergraduate women with a history of child sexual abuse. CSA severity was measured both objectively (i.e., severity of the abusive event) and subjectively (i.e., self-reported perceptions of the severity of the abusive event). As predicted, the interaction of objective CSA severity and mature defenses uniquely predicted one of four aspects of romantic relationship functioning (i.e., dyadic cohesion or doing joint activities with one's partner), which provides strong support for a moderating effect of mature defenses on relationship adjustment for CSA survivors. In addition, Objective CSA Severity X Meaning and Perceived CSA Severity X Meaning were both significantly correlated with various aspects of psychological functioning. Similarly, Objective CSA Severity X Mature Defenses and Perceived CSA Severity X Mature Defenses were significantly correlated with psychological functioning. These findings provide mild support for a possible moderating effect of meaning and mature defenses on psychological adjustment for CSA survivors. Contrary to hypotheses, the interaction of perceived CSA severity and mature defenses was not significantly related to relationship functioning. Also contrary to hypotheses, the interactions of Perceived CSA Severity X Meaning and Objective CSA Severity X Meaning were not significantly related to relationship functioning. Finally, results did not support the hypothesis that relationship functioning would moderate the association between CSA severity (objective and perceived) and psychological adjustment.
Scholar Commons Citation
Fairweather, Angela, "The Moderating Role of Meaning and Defense Mechanisms in the Association between Child Sexual Abuse and Romantic Relationship Dysfunction" (2008). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.