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Journal Article


Martinson AA, Sigmon ST, Craner J, Rothstein E, McGillicuddy M. J. Interpers. Violence 2013; 28(9): 1886-1908.


(Copyright © 2013, SAGE Publishing)






To fully understand the negative impact of sexual trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon adult intimacy-related functioning, cognitive models designed to investigate implicit processing of stimuli with emotional content are warranted. Using an emotional Stroop paradigm, the present study examined the impact of sexual trauma history (childhood sexual abuse and/or adult sexual assault) and a PTSD diagnosis on the implicit processing of 3 types of word stimuli: intimacy, sexual trauma, and neutral. Based on the results of a structured clinical interview and a behavioral-specific sexual trauma questionnaire, participants (n = 101; 74 females, 27 males) were placed in 3 groups: sexual trauma only (n = 33), sexual trauma and PTSD (n = 33), and controls (n = 35). Results indicated that men and women with a history of sexual trauma and a current PTSD diagnosis had increased latency for intimacy-related words and trauma words compared to controls, whereas individuals with only a history of sexual trauma did not differ from controls. Thus, it appears that the presence of symptoms associated with a diagnosis of PTSD is important for implicit processing of intimacy stimuli, rather than having a history of sexual trauma alone. Avoidance, a key feature of PTSD, may strengthen this relationship. More research is needed to determine the mechanisms by which individuals with a history of sexual trauma and PTSD experience intimacy difficulties.

Language: en


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