Child maltreatment, emotion regulation, and posttraumatic stress
Hartzell, Erin Elizabeth
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The present study examined the relationship of emotion regulation to multiple forms of child abuse and subsequent posttraumatic stress. Particular consideration was given to the potential impact of childhood emotional abuse, which has received less attention in the literature. Participants were 912 predominately white female students who completed a questionnaire packet pertaining to the constructs of interest. Results provide preliminary support for greater emotion regulation difficulties among women endorsing a history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse (compared to women reporting none-minimal abuse). Notably, findings revealed that a history of emotional abuse was the most powerful predictor of emotion dysregulation, accounting for the overwhelming majority of explained variance. Additionally, regression analyses suggested that symptoms of posttraumatic stress endorsed by victims of physical and emotional abuse were partially explained by their resulting emotion regulation difficulties. These findings indicate that targeting emotion dysregulation among survivors of child maltreatment, particularly those with a history of emotional abuse, may decrease posttraumatic stress and prevent subsequent maladjustment.