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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Feb;27(1):65-76.

The relation of child sexual abuse and depression in young women: comparisons across four ethnic groups.

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  • 1Arizona State University, Tempe 85287, USA.


To investigate the relation of child sexual abuse to depression and whether this relation differed by ethnicity (African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and non-Hispanic whites), we surveyed 2,003 women between 18 and 22 years of age about family histories, sexual abuse, and depression. Reported rates of child sexual abuse were similar across ethnic groups; approximately one-third of each group reported some form of sexual abuse and about one-fifth of each ethnic group reported experiencing rape. After controlling for background characteristics identified as risk factors for both child sexual abuse and depression, severity of child sexual abuse was significantly related to depressive symptoms only for non-Hispanic whites and Mexican Americans. Child sexual abuse variables accounted for more variance in depression than background variables only for Mexican American women. Child physical abuse was the strongest predictor of adult depression and the only significant predictor for each ethnic group.

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