While the association between maltreatment in childhood and later aggression has been well established, the possible mechanisms involved remain unclear. The current study examined the role of rejection sensitivity (RS) in the relationship between maltreatment and aggression in 134 high-risk adolescent girls. Witnessing interparental violence perpetrated by both maternal and paternal figures was related to increased levels of overt and relational aggression. Psychological abuse was also associated with higher levels of both types of aggression when combined across perpetrators and when perpetrated by a paternal figure. Reports of combined and paternal physical abuse were related to higher levels of relational aggression. Furthermore, RS was associated with higher levels of both types of aggression. It was not however, found to moderate the association between any maltreatment subtype and aggression. An indirect effect of sexual abuse on overt aggression through RS was found. Implications of these findings for gender-focused interventions are discussed.
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Thesis advisor: Moretti, Marlene
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