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Mental Health Correlates of the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Among Interpersonally Victimized Adolescents

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2006
21 pages
This study examined a critical gap in the study of mental health correlates of physically versus sexually assaulted adolescents.
This research examines mental health correlates of different victim-perpetrator relationships among adolescent victims of interpersonal violence. A large and nationally representative sample of adolescents (N = 4,023) responded to structured telephone interviews concerning mental health functioning (posttraumatic stress disorder—PTSD, major depressive disorder, substance abuse/dependence, and delinquency). Those reporting histories of sexual (n = 321) and/or physical (n = 688) assault were queried about specific aspects of their assaults, including their relationship with the perpetrator. After controlling for demographic and assault-related risk factors, the victim-perpetrator relationship remained a significant risk factor for mental health problems. Adolescents sexually assaulted by nonstrangers were at increased risk for PTSD; those sexually assaulted by acquaintances or people they did not know well were at increased risk for delinquency. Adolescents who were physically assaulted by a family member were at increased risk for PTSD. Explanations for the findings and the need for consistent assessment methods across related studies are discussed. (Published Abstract)

Date Published: October 1, 2006