Date of Award

January 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John-Paul Legerski


The present investigation incorporated two independent studies to examine childhood sexual abuse (CSA) as a risk factor for eating psychopathology and to identify a potential conceptual model illustrating these constructs. Study 1 sought to investigate the associations between CSA, binge eating, and other variables over time. In a cross-sectional design, Study 2 aimed to examine these associations and additional risk-taking behaviors within a larger sample of young adults. Study 1 participants included adolescent girls, half of whom reported a history of CSA, and Study 2 participants were young adult men and women from a nationally representative community sample. In the first study, generalized estimating equations (GEE) analyzed the impact of CSA on binge eating over time. Mediation analyses in both studies were performed using bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals. In the adolescent sample, the GEE model indicated binge eating did not differ by abuse status, but impulsivity emerged as a significant mediator in the bootstrapping analyses, while substance use did not. In the young adult sample, impulsivity mediated the relationships between CSA and binge eating, purging/restriction, non-suicidal self-injury, and substance use in one combined model. Together, these results imply that impulsivity may be a pertinent mechanism in the CSA-eating disorder pathway and may also predispose CSA survivors to additional deleterious behavior.