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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2007 Aug;35(4):618-26. Epub 2007 Mar 6.

Language impairment and sexual assault of girls and women: findings from a community sample.

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Child, Youth, and Family Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 1st floor, 250 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5T 1R8.


Both children and adults with disabilities face increased prevalence of abuse and assault, including sexual assault. Women and girls are disproportionately the victims of sexual assault in both disabled and nondisabled populations. Communication difficulties have been identified as a factor that may increase the vulnerability of individuals with disabilities to sexual assault. However, few studies have examined whether language impairment increases risk for sexual assault. This study reports on a community sample of children with speech or language impairment, followed to age 25. Sexual assault history was assessed based on two questions from the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Posttraumatic Stress Disorder module. Women with language impairment (n = 33) were more likely than women with unimpaired language (n = 59) to report sexual abuse/assault, controlled for socioeconomic status. Sexual assault was associated with higher rates of psychiatric disorders and poorer functioning. Women with neither language impairment nor a history of sexual assault had fewer psychiatric disorders and higher functioning than women with language impairment and/or a history of sexual assault.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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