The direct and indirect effects of child sexual abuse and felt betrayal in the development of dissociative amnesia
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between child sexual abuse, betrayal, dissociative amnesia, and general autobiographical memory loss. It was hypothesized that child sexual abuse variables would act as risk factors for dissociative amnesia. It was also hypothesized that these variables would be significantly related to betrayal, and that betrayal would mediate relationships between abuse characteristics and dissociative amnesia, and both betrayal and dissociative amnesia would mediate the relationships between abuse characteristics and general autobiographical memory loss. This retrospective survey was conducted online, and garnered a sample of 297 participants. The results of this study suggest that while the majority of the abuse variables had direct effects on betrayal, they did not indirectly affect dissociative amnesia or autobiographical memory loss through betrayal. However, abuse variables (specifically age at onset of abuse) not only had a direct effect on dissociative amnesia, but also had indirect effects on autobiographical memory loss through dissociative amnesia. These results have both research and clinical implications, in terms of both prevention and intervention with survivors of child sexual abuse.