Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Brad Hinman

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

David Sedlacek



Emerging adulthood is a time of great adjustment, in both personal and relational terms. One of emerging adulthood's most important developmental tasks includes the excitement of intimate romantic relationships (Shulman & Connolly, 2013). These intimate romantic relationships can involve sexual as well as emotional intimacy (Fisher, 2006). When there has been sexual abuse in childhood, the perception of self and others is maladaptive and damaging, increasing one's chance of experiencing sexual revictimization and intimate partner violence (Williams et al., 2010). This can greatly influence romantic relationship satisfaction. There are very few references to strength- based trauma mediators in the current literature. This study aims to determine the relationships between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and romantic relationship satisfaction, with the additional power of post-traumatic growth and spiritual well-being as mediators.


This was a quantitative non-experimental study that used descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling to answer the research questions. Data was collected by QuestionPro, with a total of 406 participants as the sample size. Participants completed a survey that measured CSA history, romantic relationship satisfaction, emerging adulthood sexual revictimization, intimate partner violence, post-traumatic growth, and spiritual well-being in emerging adult females.


In general, most participants experienced moderate levels of relationship satisfaction, although those with a history of childhood sexual abuse reported statistically lesser satisfaction levels than those who do not have a CSA history. Regardless of CSA history, participants experienced high levels of love for their partner. Approximately half of this study's participants have experienced some form of sexual revictimization since they were 14 years old, and another estimate of 25% have experienced sexual revictimization in the last 12 months. Those with a CSA history had statistically significant higher prevalence rates for sexual revictimization than those who did not have a childhood sexual abuse history. Having a history of CSA did not predict relationship satisfaction directly. Intimate partner violence was shown to be the strongest predictor of relationship satisfaction, with post-traumatic growth being the next strongest predictor. Revictimization experiences had a significant direct effect on spiritual well-being.


This study was a quantitative non-experimental design. Participants were United States female emerging adults. Results showed that CSA experiences did not predict relationship satisfaction directly in female emerging adults. Females with CSA experiences reported having a significantly higher rate of sexual revictimization than those who do not have a CSA history. Finally, the best predictors of relationship satisfaction levels were intimate partner violence and post-traumatic growth.

Subject Area

Child sexual abuse; Intimate partner violence; Relationship quality; Women--Sexual behavior; Women--Spiritual life