The aim of the present study was to evaluate, using structural equation modeling, a theoretical model in which dissociation is a core process mediating the relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and internalizing, externalizing, and sexualized behaviour difficulties in children. A total of 290 children aged 2-12 participated in this study in Québec, Canada from 1998 to 2004, including 138 children with histories of CSA and 152 non-abused children. To assess child dissociative symptoms, internalizing and externalizing difficulties, as well as sexualized behaviour difficulties, the Child Dissociative Checklist, the Child Behaviour Checklist and the Child Sexualized Behaviour Inventory were completed by parents. Dissociation mediated the relationship between CSA and internalizing, externalizing, and sexualized behaviour difficulties, with the model explaining respectively 42.5%, 49.9% and 33.9% of the variance of these difficulties. Findings are consistent with a model where dissociation is a common pathway linking CSA and child psycho-sexual difficulties.
Keywords: Children; Dissociation; Externalizing; Internalizing; Sexual abuse; Sexualized behaviour.
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