Previous studies shed light on the potential role of secure parental attachment in mitigating the effects of child sexual abuse (CSA) on the survivors’ long-term psychological distress. However, few studies have explored both approach and avoidance coping strategies as mediators of the link between parental attachment and psychological distress in a nonclinical sample. The purpose of this study was to examine the respective mediating effects of approach coping and avoidance coping on the relationship between perceived parental attachment, CSA severity, and psychological distress.
Our sample included 427 adults with a history of CSA. Participants were recruited from various social media websites (e.g., Facebook, Craigslist, discussion board, university announcement board). We conducted a mediation analysis with bootstrapping.
We found that parental attachment significantly predicted CSA survivors’ psychological distress. Additionally, both approach coping and avoidance coping mediated the effect of perceived parental attachment on psychological distress. CSA severity was found to be a nonsignificant predictor of psychological distress.
These findings may help develop interventions that enhance CSA survivors’ effective copings strategies to ultimately reduce psychological distress.