Sexual revictimization in a clinical sample of women reporting childhood sexual abuse

  • Lau M
  • Kristensen E
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BACKGROUND: Child and adolescent sexual abuse (CSA) increases the risk for adult sexual assault (ASA), and psychological vulnerability as well as aspects of CSA and upbringing might influence the risk. AIMS: The aims of this study were to investigate whether women who reported both CSA and ASA: 1) have been exposed to more severe CSA and 2) have greater psychological distress and vulnerability than women who were not revictimized. METHODS: The study was a cross-sectional study of 161 adult women with a reported history of intrafamilial CSA. Thirty-six per cent of the women stated they had been exposed to ASA. The severity of CSA, psychological distress (Symptoms Checklist-90-R) and Cognitive Distortion were assessed. Five factors of Cognitive Distortion (fearful, scared, shy, mistrust and vulnerable) were identified by factor analysis of Symptoms Checklist-90-R sub-scale. RESULTS: The CSA was significantly more severe (penetration: 77%/60%; multiple offenders: 67%/25%) in women exposed to ASA compared with their counterparts, as was the rate of suicide attempts (47%/30%). Also, the psychological distress and the factors: fearful, scared, shy and mistrust were significant higher. CONCLUSION: The results showed an increased psychological vulnerability among women with ASA, but whether the results are cause or effect of sexual revictimization or can be generalized to other clinical samples are not clear. Interventions targeting the increased risk of ASA should be developed, implemented and tested in prevention as well treatment programmes.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Clinical sample
  • Rape
  • Sexual revictimization
  • Women

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  • Marianne Lau

  • Ellids Kristensen

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