Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The impact of sexual abuse on children’s psychological well-being is well recognized. Considerable research has evaluated the deleterious effects and various protective and risk factors to victimization. Research has shown intense and pervasive psychological symptoms preceding child sexual abuse; however, many studies solely report long-term effects of sexual abuse, or rely on retrospective accounts. Additionally, there is a lack of research on the relationship between psychological adjustment and adaptive skills shortly after child sexual abuse. This study investigated the relationship between psychological problems (i.e. posttraumatic symptomology, internalizing, and externalizing problems) and adaptive skills (i.e. adaptability, social skills, leadership, activities of daily living, and functional communication) in sexually abused children and adolescents. Results revealed that there was a significant association between high levels of adaptive skills and low levels of psychological problems for all ages and genders. Two-way ANOVAs revealed no main effects for psychological problems and age, gender, and the interaction between age and gender. In regards to adaptive skills, there were no significant main effects for gender or age; however, the interaction between age and gender for adaptive skills was statistically significant. Post hoc analysis revealed that young boys exhibited significantly higher adaptive skills than young girls. There were no significant differences between child and adolescent age groups. Strengths, limitations, and directions for future research were addressed.



Committee Chair

Kelley, Mary Lou