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Risk Factors for Violent Victimization of Women: A Prospective Study, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2001
102 pages
This secondary data analysis examined whether a woman’s history of child sexual abuse was a predictor of later violent victimization and if other childhood or situational factors also increased the risk of such victimization.
Data came from a prospective study of 206 urban, mainly low-income Black women who experienced child sexual abuse before they turned 13 in the early 1970’s and were followed for a year after their victimization. Follow-up interviews took place in 1990 with 136 of the women, and in 1996-97 with 87 of the survivors of child sexual abuse and 87 women from a matched comparison group. Results revealed that the relationship between child sexual abuse and the risk for further victimization was perhaps more complex than previously thought. Child sexual abuse before age 13 was not by itself a risk factor for adult sexual or domestic violence victimization. However, those victimized both before turning 13 and then again as adolescents between ages 13 and 17 were at much greater risk of both types of victimization as adults than any other women. Additional risk factors for adult sexual victimization included measures of a woman’s sexual behavior and histories of alcohol problems. The odds of becoming a victim of serious domestic violence increased significantly if a woman reported using physical force against her partner and having engaged in physical fights. Results also indicated that those who ran away from home and whose family backgrounds included mothers who were arrested were at significantly increased risk of adolescent victimization relative to other victims of child sexual abuse. The analysis concluded that the relationship between childhood and adolescent victimization was complex. Tables, author biography, and 72 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: June 1, 2001