Intergenerational transmission of child sexual abuse : partner preference, boundaries, safety evaluation, and attachment among female survivors / Holly M. Cooper --
Cooper, Holly Marie
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Researchers have documented that child sexual abuse (CSA) tends to follow a multigenerational pattern in families. Female CSA survivors are likely to report significant parenting difficulties, particularly with boundary setting and attachment. Mothers of sexually abused children commonly report sexual abuse in their own childhood. This has led some writers to speculate that mothers with a history of childhood abuse may unknowingly choose partners who are sexual perpetrators and that they may have difficulty recognizing unsafe situations for their own children. As a result, their children appear to be at increased risk. The purpose of this study was to examine several mechanisms which be related to the indirect transmission of CSA. Two-hundred and forty-five female university students completed a series of questionnaires concerning child abuse history, partner preference, parenting boundaries, child safety evaluation, and attachment style. Data analyses revealed that females with CSA were more likely than non-abused females to prefer and select partners with childhood abuse histories. While this finding that “like attracts like” is somewhat consistent with the mate selection literature, it has huge implications for sexual abuse survivors. As well, results also showed that survivors were more likely than non-abused females to rate all situations as posing an increased risk to child safety. While it appears that abused females are more likely to label situations as highly unsafe, it is possible that this type of hyper-vigilance may lead to difficulties in recognizing danger cues. Finally, this study also demonstrated that significantly more females in the abused group presented with a Dismissive attachment style. One explanation is that this type of attachment style might limit communication in families, placing children at further risk for abuse.
- Retrospective theses 
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