Touch-me-not: The effect of combined physical and sexual abuse on dissociative symptoms
Sunday, May 17, 2020
1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Dissociation is a trauma-related symptom which can occur following child abuse. Previous work has observed a relationship between dissociation and physical or sexual abuse in children under 5. However, it is unclear if specific types of predict dissociation symptoms. We hypothesized that children who experienced sexual abuse (SA) or sexual abuse/physical abuse (SA+PA) would show higher dissociation than children with physical abuse (PA), or no SA/PA. Participants were 240 children (ages 1.5-6) and caregivers recruited for a larger study due to trauma exposure.
The effect of trauma type on dissociation was examined. There was a significant effect of trauma type on dissociation. Further comparison revealed that SA+PA had significantly higher dissociation symptoms compared to all other groups. No other significant differences were found between groups. These results did not support our hypothesis that both SA and SA+PA groups would exhibit higher levels of dissociation compared to other groups. However, the significance of SA+PA further support previous findings that comorbid experiences of childhood physical and sexual abuse are associated with higher PTSD in adults, and suggests that dissociation may be particularly influenced. These results did not replicate findings that SA or PA are separately associated with higher dissociation in young children.
Participants will be able to contrast this study's results with other relevant, cited findings.
Participants will be able to discuss the difference between the effects of sexual abuse and combined sexual and physical abuse.
Participants will be able to explain the four trauma types used as the predictive variable.
Participants will be able to evaluate alternative explanations for the significant finding of SA+PA as predictive.
Participants will be able to describe the background literature regarding the effects of childhood physical and sexual abuse.