Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Valerie A. Simon


Potential pathways from child sexual abuse (CSA) to later sexual problems were examined in a prospective longitudinal study of 121 ethnically diverse adolescents with confirmed cases of CSA. Participants were assessed at abuse discovery, when they were 7 to 15 years old, and again one and six years later. Initial sexually anxious abuse reactions predicted lower levels of subsequent sexual problems, while the persistence of eroticized reactions predicted higher levels. Externalizing behaviors immediately following abuse discovery were marginally significant predictors of later sexual problems. Abuse severity was not predictive of sexual problems. Overall, results from this study highlight the importance of sex-specific abuse reactions in predicting subsequent sexual difficulties in adolescent survivors of sexual abuse. Interventions that target cognitive distortions surrounding intimacy and facilitate healthy romantic relationship functioning may be effective in preventing and alleviating sexual problems among CSA youth.