Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Christine Fiore

Commitee Members

Jennifer Waltz, Nadine Wisniewski, Gyda Swaney, Rick VanDenPol


attributions, child sexual abuse, college, disclosure, long term outcome, social support


University of Montana


Two meta-analyses (Rind, Tromovitch & Bauserman, 1998; Ulrich, Randolph, & Acheson, 2006) have suggested that the long held belief about the inevitable pervasive negative effects of child sexual abuse does not hold for college populations. The meta-analyses suggest that there is other factors in sexual abuse victims' lives that interact with their abuse experience to produce the sometimes-observed minimal long-term effects on psychological adjustment. This research attempted to examine a potential model for explaining the variability in the long-term effects of child sexual abuse by examining both moderator variables and abuse characteristics within the same population. The study examined three potential moderators, attributional style (including abuse specific attributions), family environment, and social support. Abuse characteristics were also entered in the moderator regression analyses, in order to examine the variance accounted for by each variable on long-term outcome beyond any shared variance between variables. It was hypothesized that there would be a significant difference between subjects reporting a history of sexual abuse and those without a history of sexual abuse on their long term psychological adjustment. This difference would be minimal, but would indicate that those without a history of child sexual abuse score better on a measure of trauma psychopathology. The second hypothesis was that attributional style, family environment, and social support would moderate the long-term outcome of child sexual abuse victims, beyond the variance accounted for by the abuse characteristics. The final hypothesis was that the accumulation of the aforementioned risk factors would result in a worse long-term outcome in college populations. This model attempted to provide an understanding of the relationship between each variable with long term outcome of child sexual abuse, as well as the cumulative effect of all these variables on the relationship of child sexual abuse outcomes. Results suggested that social support satisfaction and the victim's attributions about the cause of the child sexual abuse experience were related to trauma outcomes. In addition, the results provided potential indications for what to target in treatment based upon symptom presentation in child sexual abuse victims.



© Copyright 2007 Heather Marie Ulrich