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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1992 Apr;60(2):185-95.

Application of attachment theory to the study of sexual abuse.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park 20740.


Research on sexual abuse frequently fails to address the influence of the family as a risk factor for the onset of all kinds of sexual abuse and as a mediator of its long-term effects. Attachment theory provides a useful conceptual framework for understanding the familial antecedents and long-term consequences of sexual abuse. Themes associated with insecure parent-child attachment (rejection, role reversal/parentification, and fear/unresolved trauma) are frequently found in the dynamics of families characterized by sexual abuse, and specific categories of sequelae are related to probable attachment experiences. Implications for intervention and research on sexual abuse are suggested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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