Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 219–229 | Cite as

Maternal Childhood Sexual Trauma, Child Directed Aggression, Parenting Behavior, and the Moderating Role of Child Sex

  • B. J. Zvara
  • R. Mills-Koonce
  • M. Cox
Original Article


Using propensity-matched controls, the present study examines the associations between maternal report of child-directed aggression and observed parenting behavior across early childhood for women with and without childhood sexual trauma histories. The moderating role of child sex was also examined. The sample (N = 204) is from a longitudinal study of rural poverty exploring the ways in which child, family, and contextual factors shape development over time. After controlling for numerous factors including child and primary caregiver covariates, findings reveal that childhood sexual trauma is related to sensitive parenting behavior and child-directed aggression. Findings further revealed that child sex moderates the relation between sexual trauma history and maternal behavior towards children. Implications for interventions for mothers with childhood sexual trauma histories and directions for future study are proposed.


Childhood sexual trauma Child-directed aggression Sensitive parenting Harsh Intrusive parenting Propensity matched design 



The Family Life Project (FLP) Key Investigators include Lynne Vernon Feagans, The University of North Carolina; Martha Cox, The University of North Carolina; Clancy Blair, New York University; Peg Burchinal, The University of North Carolina; Linda Burton, Duke University; Keith Crnic, The Arizona State University; Ann Crouter, The Pennsylvania State University; Patricia Garrett-Peters, The University of North Carolina; Mark Greenberg, The Pennsylvania State University; Stephanie Lanza, The Pennsylvania State University; Roger Mills-Koonce, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Emily Werner, The Pennsylvania State University and Michael Willoughby, The University of North Carolina.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no competing interests.


Support for this research was provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (PO1-HD-39667), with co-funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Additional support was provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (A12-0934) awarded as a predoctoral fellowship (F31) to the lead author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.The University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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