Childhood Maltreatment, Intervening Variables, and Adult Psychological Difficulties in Women: An Overview


This article reviews the complex relationship between child maltreatment and later psychosocial difficulties among adult women. Specifically addressed are (a) the various forms of childhood maltreatment, (b) the range of potential long-term psychological outcomes, and (c) important contextual variables that mediate or add to these maltreatment–symptom relationships. Among the latter are characteristics of the abuse and/or neglect; effects of impaired parental functioning; premaltreatment and postmaltreatment psychobiology; qualities of the parent–child attachment; abuse and/or neglect-related affect dysregulation that may lead to further symptomatology; the extent to which the child responds with significant emotional or behavioral avoidance; and whether later traumas are also present. Also relevant are sociocultural contributors to both child maltreatment and maltreatment effects, especially poverty and marginalization. Clinical and research implications are considered.

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Published in Trauma, Violence, & Abuse: A Review Journal, v. 10, no. 4, p. 375-388.

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