Emotion regulation difficulties, low social support, and interpersonal violence mediate the link between childhood abuse and posttraumatic stress symptoms

Behav Ther. 2013 Mar;44(1):152-61. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2012.09.003. Epub 2012 Sep 28.


We examined how difficulties with emotion regulation, social support, and interpersonal violence in adult relationships mediated the relationship between childhood abuse and post traumatic symptoms (PTS) in adults. We fit a multiple mediation model to data from 139 socio-economically disadvantaged women (85% African American) of whom 44% endorsed moderate to severe levels of childhood physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and 12% screened positive for probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The model accounted for 63% of the variance in adult PTS symptoms. Child abuse exerted a direct effect on PTS symptoms and indirect effects through difficulties with emotion regulation, lower social support, and greater exposure to adult interpersonal violence. Implications of findings for the treatment of individuals at high risk of having experienced childhood abuse and PTS are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Social Support*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / psychology*