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17-07-2019 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 12/2019

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 12/2019

A Longitudinal Study of the Mediating Role of Romantic Attachment in the Relation Between Child Maltreatment and Psychological Adaptation in Emerging Adults

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 12/2019
Auteurs:
Jacinthe Dion, Jennifer Gervais, Noémie Bigras, Marie-Eve Blackburn, Natacha Godbout
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Abstract

Considering the long-term deleterious consequences of child maltreatment, it is crucial to better understand the pathways leading to psychological outcomes in emerging adulthood. This study contributes to the existing knowledge through the examination of the role of romantic attachment as a mechanism explaining the association between child maltreatment and psychological adaptation. Prospective and retrospective data from 605 school-based participants (56.0% women) from the general population involved in a 10-year study were used. Child maltreatment, including sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, was measured at age 14 years (mean age = 14.04, SD = 0.21). Ten years later (mean age = 24.5, SD = 0.50), similar forms of maltreatment, in addition to neglect, were measured, along with adult romantic attachment, self-esteem, and psychological distress. The results of path analyses, controlling for self-esteem and psychological distress at age 14, revealed that child maltreatment was associated with increases in psychological distress and with decreases in self-esteem in emerging adults, through their levels of romantic attachment anxiety. The results also revealed that cross-sectional analyses involving retrospective measurements of child maltreatment at age 24 were as valuable as longitudinal analyses involving its measurement at age 14. Those results confirm the importance of romantic attachment in survivors’ well-being, and suggest that attachment may be a key target for intervention with adolescents or emerging adults.

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