Psychological Functioning and Coping Strategies among the Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Author: Mahira Ahmad

Supervisor: Dr. Humaira Mohsin

Degree: MS

Year: 2008-2010

University: Centre for Clinical Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The goal of the present research was to assess psychological functioning in terms of severity level of anxiety, depression and stress level as well as to ascertain the coping strategies employed by Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) adult female survivors. The study was carried out with the sample of 161 adolescents (78 CSA abused and 83 non-abused) age ranging from 18 to 35years (M = 22.49, S.D = 3.69) both groups were recruited from Dar- ul- Aman located in Lahore. Participants completed measures of CSA questionnaire adapted and modified according to the present study (Halperin, 1996), Depression, Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS Urdu version, Zehra, 2009) and Ways of Coping Questionnaire-revised (WCQ-R, Malik, 2007) were used. Results indicated that CSA survivors significantly differ from non- abused group on severity levels of DASS scales. Among coping strategies, CSA group reported frequent use of tension reduction to deal with life stressors. Stepwise Regression Analysis predicted that female who had experienced sexual contact form of CSA suffered more from depression and used emotional coping (i.e. self-control and accepting responsibilities) than other types of CSA. The present study also found that CSA survivors are at greater risk for depression because they tend to use unhealthy emotional coping to tackle life stressors. Future research should focus on the development of interventions for adult CSA female keeping in view the Pakistani society.

Keywords: Psychological Functioning, Sexual Abuse, Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Coping.

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