School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Frederick Volk


child sexual abuse, sexual shame, religiosity, depression, anxiety, stress symptoms




Individuals who experience childhood sexual abuse (CSA) suffer a global injury. In addition to the impact sexual abuse has on their mental, emotional, sexual, and physical well-being, victims of CSA also experience spiritual pain. The sequelae of pain that follow CSA may lead nonbelievers and Christians to approach churches for desperately needed help. Churches may influence the experience of those seeking help. However, the degree to which ministries are helpful is conditional on their knowledge of and preparation for working with adult victims of past CSA. Past negative sexual experiences may also harm self-cognitions, potentially influencing survivors’ ability to approach God, church, or other people, further complicating the issue. Understanding the relationship between sexual shame, CSA history, and adverse emotional outcomes is key to offering important data-driven concepts for helping these wounded individuals. The results of this study are both consistent with expectations and surprising. Religiosity was noted to have an attenuating effect on the interaction between CSA and sexual shame. Further, religiosity weakens the effect of CSA on depression and stress as well supports attenuation. However, there was no significant effect related to anxiety supporting attenuation or exacerbation. Further interaction results are discussed in detail to support clear understanding and future research.

Included in

Counseling Commons