The impact of childhood sexual abuse and family functioning on four dimensions of women's later parenting



Objective: While child sexual abuse and its negative effects have been of increasing interest to researchers and practitioners, more empirical focus has been given to measuring mental health consequences rather than other areas of life functioning such as parenting. Furthermore, recent questions have been raised about whether documented negative effects of abuse stem from the abuse itself or the more general negative family environment which often accompanies it. The aim of the current study was to examine the impact of a history of child sexual abuse and more general family relationship quality on the parenting of a sample of low-income mothers.

Method: The current study was a secondary analysis of archived data collected by Zuravin (1996) on 518 low-income mothers. Parenting was assessed using measures such as frequency of worry about child problems, views of self as a parent, and how child discipline problems were handled.

Results: Child sexual abuse was associated with more negative views of self as a parent and the greater use of physical punishment strategies even after accounting for differences in family-of-origin relationship quality.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that sexual abuse may be a risk factor for more negative views of self as a parent beyond differences between abused and nonabused samples in more general assessments of family-of-origin quality. Implications for future research and intervention are discussed.



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Child Abuse & Neglect



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