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J Interpers Violence. 2011 Feb;26(3):498-521. doi: 10.1177/0886260510363416. Epub 2010 May 4.

Attachment representations and anxiety: differential relationships among mothers of sexually abused and comparison girls.

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  • 1Department of Social Welfare, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea.


The present study sought to document an example of how childhood sexual abuse and attachment representation interact while contributing to the trait anxiety of nonoffending mothers following the disclosure of their daughters' sexual abuse. The study sample consisted of 57 ethnically diverse mothers of sexually abused girls aged 6 to 16 and 47 mothers of comparison girls who were matched with the abused girls on age, socioeconomic status, and family constellation. Results indicate that the mothers' representations of past attachment relationships with their own fathers were differentially related to their current attachment styles, depending on their daughters' childhood sexual abuse status. The representation of past attachment relationships with peers had both main and protective effects on the mothers' trait anxiety symptoms. The relevance of attachment perspectives to adjustment among these mothers and intergenerational process in childhood sexual abuse are discussed, and implications for future research and clinical practices are identified.

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