Attachment and social support mediate associations between Polyvictimization and psychological distress in early adolescence

Ask Elklit, Gadi Zerach
Published Online:
27 May 2019

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The current study assesses associations between multiple experience of traumatic events (polyvictimization), PTSD symptoms (PTSS) and psychiatric symptoms in early adolescence, and explores the mediating roles of attachment orientations and perceived social support in the associations between polyvictimization, PTSS and psychiatric symptoms. In 2001, a representative national sample of 390 Danish eighth‐graders (M = 13.95, SD = .37) completed validated self‐report questionnaires. Polyvictimization was related to higher PTSS and psychiatric symptoms. Importantly, polyvictimization was significantly linked to high attachment anxiety, which was linked with low perceived social support, which in turn was linked with high PTSS levels and psychiatric symptoms. Polyvictimization might have dire consequences in early adolescence. An individual's high attachment anxiety might be connected with lack of perceived social support, which should be seen as a possible psychological distress mechanism subsequent to exposure to a number of potentially traumatic events.

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