Date Approved

2007

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Dean Lauterbach

Second Advisor

Dr. Alissa Huth-Bocks

Third Advisor

Dr. Alida Westman

Abstract

Childhood abuse has been associated with a broad range of problems in adulthood, including disruptions in parent-child relationships. The majority of research has focused on the effects of childhood sexual abuse on mothers, but it is also important to better understand the effects of childhood abuse on fathers. The current study examined the effect of various forms of childhood abuse on parent-child conflict and relationship quality using the recent replication of the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS-R). The NCS-R is a nationwide household survey of 9,282 participants that included an assessment of the presence/absence of four forms of childhood abuse: physical abuse, rape, sexual molestation, and witnessing physical violence at home. In addition, victims of childhood abuse were asked to rate the level of conflict and the quality of relationships they have with their children. A series of 2(sex) X 2(exposure) MANOVAs were conducted with relationship quality and relationship conflict as dependent variables. A similar pattern of findings emerged across abuse type. Mothers with a history of childhood abuse reported more conflict with their own children than fathers but a better overall relationship. This study did not support the hypotheses that the effects of childhood abuse are similar for both males and females. Fathers with childhood abuse history may be more likely not to participate in their children’s lives.

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