PTSD symptoms and risk recognition deficits in the sexual revictimization of female CSA survivors
Mayeux, Janina Nicole
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Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a common problem across the globe, with many possible negative correlates, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and risk recognition deficits. Additionally, the sexual revictimization of CSA survivors in adulthood is a significant problem, with further and/or continued possible negative correlates. The current study examined the contributing roles of risk recognition deficits within sexually threatening environments and PTSD symptoms in the sexual revictimization of adult, female CSA survivors at Texas Tech University through an online survey. Four, distinct symptom clusters of PTSD (i.e., numbing, avoidance, hyperarousal, and reexperiencing) were assessed, as compared to the traditional three factor model of PTSD. Associated symptoms of PTSD were also assessed, including dissociation and experiential avoidance. Detection of sexually threatening cues was assessed in acquaintance and stranger rape written scenarios. Results revealed that Revictimized women exhibited significantly lower numbing symptoms than CSA survivors. CSA and Adolescent Sexual Abuse survivors reported higher symptoms within each PTSD symptom cluster than control, including hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing symptoms. Differences in risk recognition among the childhood and adult abuse groups were also revealed, including Revictimized women experiencing increased difficulties recognizing risks in stranger rape scenarios as compared to CSA survivors, Adolescent Sexual Abuse survivors, and a combined group of CSA, Adolescent Sexual Abuse, and Adult Sexual Assault survivors, contrary to hypotheses. Higher experiential avoidance was demonstrated in CSA and Adolescent Sexual Abuse survivors, as compared to the control group. Experiential avoidance was also positively correlated with higher risk recognition abilities in a stranger rape scenario. Furthermore, experiential avoidance increased as dissociation and numbing increased, and numbing increased with higher risk recognition abilities. Finally, dissociation symptoms were significantly higher in women with sexual abuse histories as compared to the control group. Clinical implications and future research directions were discussed.