Kersey, Cheri Nicole
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Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) can have long-term consequences for both men and women. Not only can they have psychological problems, but relationship problems emerge as well. Sexual abuse does not just touch the life of one person but can affect that person’s interactions with many other people, particularly romantic partners. This study seeks to dissect how childhood sexual abuse affects the future romantic relationship of CSA survivors. Data came from the RELATE study, and the sample included 5,464 men and women. Holman’s Model of Premarital Factors for Relationship quality was used as an organizing theory while Attachment Theory linked the effect of childhood sexual abuse on romantic relationships through mediation. Interactions between childhood sexual abuse and other childhood family experiences were included as well. Gender differences in the model were tested too. Structural Equation Modeling was used to assess a model that hypothesizes how attachment theory mediates the association between CSA and several relationship interactions. Differences in model based on type of sample were also assessed. Results showed that childhood sexual abuse more strongly directly impacted romantic interactions for women than men. Family environment moderated the effects childhood sexual abuse had on romantic interactions for women only. Indirect influences through attachment style were found for both men and women.