Emotional support is theorized to be beneficial to youth after experiences of sexual abuse. However, meta-analytic and systematic reviews of the literature indicate inconsistent evidence of relations between caregiver emotional support and youth functioning after sexual abuse. The current study addressed several methodological factors that may have contributed to inconsistent findings in this literature (i.e., small samples, poor measurement of emotional support, collection of data from only one source) and examined relations between caregiver emotional support and youth functioning after sexual abuse. Participants were 460 youth (Mage = 13.78, SD = 1.77) who presented at a child advocacy center after a disclosure of sexual abuse along with their non-abusive caregivers (Mage = 39.65, SD = 8.52). Youth and caregivers completed psychometrically sound measures of caregiver emotional support and youth adjustment (i.e., trauma symptoms, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing symptoms). Multivariate multilevel modeling analyses demonstrated that youth reports of emotional support were associated with youth adjustment, whereas caregiver reports of emotional support were not. Additionally, youth reports of emotional support were more strongly associated with their own reports of their functioning than with caregiver reports of youth functioning. Exploratory analyses demonstrated that both youth and caregiver reports of emotional support were more strongly associated with externalizing symptoms than with trauma symptoms. These findings suggest that caregiver emotional support is associated with youth functioning after sexual abuse and highlight the value of measuring youth reports of caregiver emotional support.
Dr. Ernest Jouriles
Dr. Renee McDonald
Dr. David Rosenfield
Dr. Chrystyna Kouros
Number of Pages
Sitton, Melissa, "Caregiver Emotional Support Following Child Sexual Abuse: Links with Child Adjustment Problems" (2023). Psychology Theses and Dissertations. 48.
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