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Clinical Trial
, 23 (9), 929-45

Coping Strategies and Social Support as Mediators of Consequences in Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Clinical Trial

Coping Strategies and Social Support as Mediators of Consequences in Child Sexual Abuse Victims

C Tremblay et al. Child Abuse Negl.


Objective: The main objective of this study was to evaluate the mediator role of coping strategies and social support on the adaptation of children following CSA. Empirical studies indicate that short-term consequences of child sexual abuse (CSA) are multiple and varied (Kendall-Tackett, Williams, & Finkelhor, 1993; Wolfe & Birt, 1995). While abuse-related characteristics were first studied to explain the variability of CSA outcome, more recently, the influence of other variables such as coping strategies and social support have been considered.

Method: Fifty sexually abused children aged between 7 and 12 participated in this study. The Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991) and the Perceived Competence Scale for Children (Harter, 1985) were used to measure victims' adjustment. Coping strategies were evaluated by the Self-Report Coping Scale (Causey & Dubow, 1992) and the children completed the Perceived Social Support (Harter, 1985). A French version of the History of Victimization (Wolfe, Gentile, & Bourdeau, 1987) was used to gather abuse-related characteristics from medical records.

Results: Results indicate that sexually abused children exhibit internalizing and externalizing behavior problems following CSA. Coping strategies and social support exert direct effects on victims' adjustment instead of the mediator influences originally expected. Among abuse-related variables, only the perpetrator's identity is directly related to internalizing symptoms.

Conclusions: The absence of mediational effects of coping and social support is discussed in light of the measures used and the cross-sectional nature of the study. Results highlight the importance of parental implication and the consideration of coping strategies in designing therapeutic interventions with this population.

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