Survey responses of 5,417 women were studied to obtain information about childhood sexual abuse, religion, and mental health. There were 653 (13%) who reported being sexually abused while growing up. When studying those who were sexually abused, it was found that this childhood experience was associated with less emotional maturity, lower self-esteem, more instability in their relationships with partners, and higher levels of depression. The highest scores on the mental health indicators were found for women who were not abused and highly religious, then highly religious and abused, and the lower scores for no abuse and low religiosity, low religiosity and abuse, and medium religiosity and abuse. These findings were interpreted as demonstrating that religion could help ameliorate negative mental health outcomes associated with childhood sexual abuse.
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