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Child Abuse Negl. 2003 Oct;27(10):1205-22.

Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women.

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Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.



This study examined the prevalence and psychological sequelae of childhood sexual and physical abuse in adults from the general population.


A national sampling service generated a geographically stratified, random sample of 1,442 subjects from the United States. Subjects were mailed a questionnaire that included the Traumatic Events Survey (TES) [Traumatic Events Survey, Unpublished Psychological Test, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles] and the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI) [Trauma Symptom Inventory Professional Manual, Psychological Assessment Resources, Odessa, FL]. Of all potential subjects, 935 (64.8%) returned substantially completed surveys.


Sixty-six men and 152 women (14.2% and 32.3%, respectively) reported childhood experiences that satisfied criteria for sexual abuse, and 103 males and 92 females (22.2% and 19.5%, respectively) met criteria for physical abuse. Twenty-one percent of subjects with one type of abuse also had experienced the other type, and both types were associated with subsequent adult victimization. After controlling for demographics, adult history of interpersonal violence, and other child abuse, childhood sexual abuse was associated with all 10 scales of the TSI, and physical abuse was related to all TSI scales except those tapping sexual issues. Sexual abuse predicted more symptom variance than did physical abuse or adult interpersonal victimization. Various aspects of both physical and sexual abuse experiences were predictive of TSI scores. Abuser sex, however, both alone and in interaction with victim sex, was not associated with additional TSI symptomatology.


Childhood sexual and physical abuse is relatively common in the general population, and is associated with a wide variety of psychological symptoms. These relationships remain even after controlling for relevant background variables.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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