Child abuse survivors often exhibit long-standing maladaptive beliefs. Sexual risk-taking could contribute to the maintenance of such beliefs by reinforcing cognitions that originally resulted from child abuse. In this study, 64 community women, most with elevated posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, completed measures of childhood abuse, sexual risk-taking, and posttraumatic cognitions. Age of first consensual sexual intercourse mediated the relationship between childhood physical abuse and maladaptive posttraumatic cognitions in adulthood. Thus, age of sexual intercourse initiation might play an important role in women's recovery from childhood physical abuse. Clinicians should consider the possible impact of women's sexual history when challenging their cognitions during trauma-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Further, decreasing risky sexual behavior might partially protect against the negative effects of trauma.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Professions (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health