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J Clin Child Psychol. 1997 Mar;26(1):24-35.

Variability in symptom expression among sexually abused girls: developing multivariate models.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago 60612, USA.


Examined which of several apparent risk variables were predictors of internalizing and externalizing problems in 48 girls who were referred for therapy after disclosing sexual abuse. Specifically, the effects of abuse characteristics, support from nonoffending parents, victims' coping strategies, and victims' cognitive appraisals on symptomatology were assessed. As hypothesized, results indicated that internalizing and externalizing problems were associated with different sets of predictor variables. Victims' self-reports of depression and anxiety were related to lower perceived support from nonoffending parents, more use of cognitive avoidance coping, and more negative appraisals of the abuse. These results were partially replicated when using parent-report measures of depression, but were not replicated for parent reports of victim anxiety. Incest was the only variable that was significantly related to parent-reported anxiety. Parent-reported aggressive behaviors were predicted by level of abuse-related stress; and aggression, social problems, and sexual problems were all related to the tendency to cope by controlling others. Social problems were also related to coping by self-distraction. Regression analyses were done for each dependent variable to examine which predictors accounted for unique variance when controlling for other significant zero-order correlates. Implications of these results for understanding variability in symptom expression among sexual abuse victims are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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