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Abstract

Prior studies have suggested self-blame and sense of guilt as important elements associated with the effects of childhood sexual abuse on adult survivors (Cantón-Cortés, Cantón, Justicia & Cortés, 2011). However, few studies have explored the potential impact of the sense of guilt on outcomes in child victims. This study examines the mediating role of avoidance coping on the relationship between sense of guilt and outcomes (anxiety and self-esteem) in sexually abused children. The sample consisted of 447 sexually abused children (319 girls and 128 boys) aged 6 to 12. Path analysis indicated that children with higher feelings of guilt about the abuse showed more anxiety and lower levels of self-esteem. Indirect effects also indicated that sense of guilt predicted avoidance coping, which in turn contributed to higher anxiety and lower self-esteem. This model, which fits the data well for both girls and boys, explains 24.4 % of the variance in anxiety and 11.2 % of the variance in self-esteem. Results suggest that sense of guilt is an important target for clinical intervention with sexually abused children.

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