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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996 Dec;64(6):1406-16.

Is youth victimization related to trauma symptoms and depression after controlling for prior symptoms and family relationships? A longitudinal, prospective study.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic 06226, USA.


The common finding linking symptoms such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression with youth victimization (e.g., sexual abuse) might well be artifactual if preexisting psychopathology or disturbed family relationships create a common risk for both later victimization and later symptoms. This study used a longitudinal, prospective design to examine this issue. In a national random sample telephone survey, children 10 to 16 years old were interviewed and then reinterviewed approximately 15 months later about psychological problems, family relationships and victimization experiences that had occurred in the interim. Victimization in the interim was associated with PTSD-related symptoms and depression measured at Time 2, even after controlling for these symptoms and the quality of the parent-child relationship at Time 1. The association was particularly strong for sexual abuse, parental assault, and kidnapping experiences. However, these data also suggest that some of the apparent association found in cross-sectional studies between victimization and psychopathology may be due to prior psychopathology (but not parent-child relationship problems), which puts children at risk for both victimization and later symptoms.

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