The Relationship between childhood victimization and physical health in women: the mediating role of adult attachment




Rosen, Lianne

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This study investigated links between childhood victimization, adult attachment style, and adult physical health outcomes among women. Existing research has found that female survivors of childhood abuse are more likely than non-abused women to experience a host of negative long-term sequelae, particularly in terms of mental and physical health concerns. Examining the attachment security of abuse survivors may facilitate our understanding of the relationship between early victimization and later health. Attachment theory posits that the security of childhood relationships with caregivers influences the quality of later interpersonal relationships. As a consequence of childhood abuse, normal attachment patterns are thought to be disrupted. Furthermore, insecure adult attachment has been linked to poorer physical health in community samples. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), adult attachment insecurity was found to partially mediate health outcomes among female survivors of childhood victimization in an undergraduate sample. Findings suggest that the experience of childhood maltreatment is tied to an increase in women's physical health concerns in a holistic manner, where victimization affects later perceptions of symptoms, functional impairment, and illness behaviour. Furthermore, adult attachment and relational behaviour appears to be a pathway through which this association is formed. Implications for health practitioners, clinicians and researchers are discussed.



child abuse, women's health, adult attachment, structural equation modelling, adult outcomes of child abuse