Psychological Characteristics of Women Who Do or Do Not Report a History of Sexual Abuse
Department of Psychiatry
Medical Subject Headings
Child Abuse, Sexual; Stress, Psychological; Women; Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology
Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a prevalent form of violence in our society. The exact number of women sexually abused as children is not known, as the estimated rates vary from 6% to 62%. This study examined the psychological characteristics of women with and without a history of CSA. A nonclinical sample of 255 undergraduate women served as volunteer participants. The variables measured included: Adult Romantic Attachment, Depression, Anxiety, Traumatic Symptoms, Cognitive Distortions, Maladaptive Schemas, and Borderline Personality Features. Women who reported a history of abuse evidenced marked differences from those who did not across a broad spectrum of variables. A majority of CSA survivors did not seek any treatment. These results are discussed relative to prevention and early intervention efforts that are necessary to assist this underserved population.