Psychological Characteristics of Women Who Do or Do Not Report a History of Sexual Abuse (Book chapter)

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type

Book Chapter

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.


Citation: Lewis, R. J., Griffin, J.L., Morrow, J., & Winstead, B.A. (2003). Psychological Characteristics of Women Who Do or Do Not Report a History of Sexual Abuse in S. Lee (Ed.) Traumatic Stress and Its Aftermath: Cultural, Community, and Professional Contexts. The Haworth Press Inc., p. 49-65.

A partial preview of this book chapter is available via Google Books.

At the time of publication, Jessica Griffin was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.