Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Valerie A. Simon


Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a risk factor for the development of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, as well as sexual problems. Additionally, previous research supports a relationship between symptoms of depression and PTSD and sexual problems in both sexually abused and non-abused samples. There has been little attempt, however, to explain the mechanisms responsible for this relationship. The current study proposed that abuse-related changes in world views might be one such mechanism and examined whether world view changes mediate longitudinal associations between depression and PTSD symptoms and sexual problems (sexual concerns, dysfunctional sexual behavior, and risky sexual behavior). This study is unique in that it considered the effects of both positive and negative world view changes on this relationship. Over half of youth in the study reported at least one world view change, with the preponderance of changes being negative. Thus, youth appear to be cognizant of ways in which their experiences of CSA have affected their beliefs. No straightforward relationship between early abuse reactions and world views emerged, as neither depression nor PTSD predicted world view changes. Although higher levels of symptomatology and stronger world view changes were related to sexual concerns, they were unrelated to dysfunctional or risky sexual behaviors. The reasons for this differentiation could include the nature of constructs or the measures focus on hyper-sexuality. This study contributes to the extant literature by highlighting the implications of CSA experiences for emerging world views and their associations with emerging sexuality.

Included in

Psychology Commons