Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 409–419

The Relationships Between Childhood Sexual Abuse, Social Anxiety, and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women


DOI: 10.1007/s10896-005-7802-z

Cite this article as:
Feerick, M.M. & Snow, K.L. J Fam Viol (2005) 20: 409. doi:10.1007/s10896-005-7802-z


The relationships between childhood sexual abuse, social anxiety, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder were examined in a sample of 313 undergraduate women. Thirty-one percent of the women reported some form of sexual abuse in childhood. Women with a history of sexual abuse reported more symptoms of anxiety, distress in social situations, and posttraumatic stress disorder than other women. Women who experienced attempted or actual intercourse reported more avoidance than women with no history of abuse and women with exposure only, and more PTSD symptoms than all other groups of women. Women who experienced fondling reported more PTSD symptoms than women with no history of abuse. Pressure, age of onset of abuse, abuse by a family friend, and abuse by other perpetrators were all significant abuse characteristics in predicting adult social anxiety. Implications of these results for research and interventions are discussed.

Key Words

childhood sexual abuselong-term effectssocial anxietyPTSD

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.Child Development and Behavior Branch, the National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentNational Institutes of HealthBethesda