Child and adolescent abuse and subsequent victimization: A prospective study


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

We investigated the possible reciprocal relationship between victimization experiences and psychological functioning by assessing abuse experiences in childhood, adolescence, and during a 2-month follow-up period. At the beginning of the study (Time 1), abuse histories, trauma and depressive symptoms, and interpersonal functioning were assessed in 551 college women. Subsequent victimization experiences and psychological outcomes were assessed at the follow-up (Time 2). Path analyses indicated that verbal abuse by the mother and father were predictive of various psychological outcomes as measured at Time 1 and emerged as the only significant predictors of adolescent dating violence. Adolescent dating violence subsequently predicted the experience of dating violence during the 2-month follow-up period. Paternal physical abuse predicted adolescent sexual victimization which subsequently predicted all symptom measures at Time 1. Conversely, the experience of adolescent physical dating violence was not predictive of any of the symptom measures at Time 1. For those women who experienced dating violence during the follow-up, however, the severity of their abusive experiences was related to both depression and interpersonal problems assessed at Time 2. In comparison, for those women who experienced sexual victimization during the follow-up period, the severity of their abusive experiences was related to trauma symptoms. Interpersonal problems emerged as both an aftereffect of adolescent sexual victimization experience and a predictor of a subsequent sexual victimization experience during the follow-up. Given that emotional abuse emerged as a predictor of adolescent dating violence and psychological outcomes, researchers and clinicians need to continue to explore this problem. Further, it is important to assess how interpersonal problems contribute to the risk of subsequent sexual victimization and to try to break the cycle between adolescent abuse experiences and subsequent physical and sexual assaults.

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