Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

Elizabeth Gosch, Ph.D., ABPP, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

Third Advisor

Esther Deblinger, Ph.D.


There is a paucity of research examining whether adolescents with a history of sexual abuse develop different norms or standards for acceptable behavior in their peer relationships. The trauma literature suggests that intervening variables such as perceived social support, interpretations of violence, and interpersonal attitudes may be relevant to the study of sexual abuse. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between a history of sexual abuse, relational attitudes about aggression and sexuality, and the interpersonal factors of social support and negative interaction in adolescent peer relationships. Two groups of female subjects between 13 and 17 years of age participated in the study: 28 had experienced sexual abuse; 33 had no known history of abuse and served as the control group. Information on the sexually abused group was obtained using initial assessment data from a child abuse treatment facility. Subjects for the control group were recruited from a medical clinic. Evaluation of both groups included the measurement of the study variables using the Network of Relationship Inventory (NRI) and the Relationship Attitudes Survey for Adolescents (RASA). Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), and Semipartial and Pearson Correlations were conducted on the data. The major finding of this study revealed a difference in levels of dysfunctional sexual attitudes between the sexually abused and nonabused groups: results from an ANCOVA analysis showed a significant effect for abuse history (p