Disgusted by sexual abuse: Exploring the association between disgust sensitivity and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms among mothers of sexually abused children

I. van Delft, C. Finkenauer, J.M. Tybur, F. Lamers-Winkelman

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Nonoffending mothers of sexually abused children often exhibit high levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. Emerging evidence suggests that trait‐like individual differences in sensitivity to disgust play a role in the development of PTS symptoms. One such individual difference, disgust sensitivity, has not been examined as far as we are aware among victims of secondary traumatic stress. The current study examined associations between disgust sensitivity and PTS symptoms among mothers of sexually abused children (N = 72). Mothers completed the Impact of Event Scale‐Revised and the Three Domain Disgust Scale (Tybur, Lieberman, & Griskevicius, 2009). More than one third of mothers scored above a suggested cutoff (mean score = 1.5) for high levels of PTS symptoms. Hierarchical linear regression analysis results indicated that sexual disgust sensitivity (β = .39, p = .002) was associated with PTS symptoms (R2 = .18). An interaction analysis showed that sexual disgust sensitivity was associated with maternal PTS symptoms only when the perpetrator was not biologically related to the child (β = −.32, p = .047; R2 = .28). Our findings suggested that sexual disgust sensitivity may be a risk factor for developing PTS symptoms among mothers of sexually abused children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume29
Issue number3
Early online date23 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

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