Childhood sexual abuse, social support, and psychological outcomes: A loss framework

Meera Murthi, Dorothy L. Espelage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The objectives of the study were: (a) to develop a scale to assess CSA-related loss among a college sample of CSA survivors (CSALM), (b) to examine the measure's convergent validity through associations among depression, alexithymia, coping, and social support, and (c) to test whether social support moderates the relation between multiple experiences of CSA and loss. Method: The study involved a survey methodology and included college-age women (n = 116) reporting CSA experiences. Results: Based on the Sexual Victimization Questionnaire (SVQ; [Finkelhor, D. (1979). Sexually victimized children. New York: The Free Press]), 90% of the sample reported CSA before age of 12, 12.3% (n = 15) reported CSA before age 12 with an adult over 16, and 42.2% (n = 49) reported CSA after age 12 with an adult. Exploratory Factor Analysis of the CSALM revealed a three-factor solution: (a) Loss of Optimism, (b) Loss of Self, and (c) Loss of Childhood. Convergent validity of several scales was evidenced through associations with depression, alexithymia, coping, and social support. Social support from family and friends was found to moderate the association between CSA experiences and loss dimensions. Conclusions: Findings provide preliminary psychometric support for the CSALM, a tool that will be useful in future investigations of loss among college-age CSA survivors. Findings also support using a loss framework to understand the current mental health of these survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1215-1231
Number of pages17
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Child sexual abuse
  • Loss
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law
  • Education
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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