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

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2001
8 pages
A secondary analysis of data from interviews with women with contemporaneously documented histories of child sexual abuse and with a matched comparison group of women with no documented abuse sought to determine whether women sexually abused as children are at increased risk or sexual abuse or victimization by domestic assault in later life.
The analysis also considered the role of other potential risk factors. These factors included family background, sexual behavior, alcohol problems, and a woman’s own aggressive behavior. The participants were mainly low-income urban Black women. The research tested the study hypotheses using data from interviews conducted with 174 women during wave 3 of the study and from interviews of 80 women interviewed during both waves 2 and 3. Results revealed that the relationship between child sexual abuse and later adult victimization was complex. The simple fact of being sexually abused in childhood was not associated with a higher risk of either type of adult victimization studied. However, some women sexually abused in childhood were further sexually victimized in adolescence. These women had increased risk of revictimization as an adult. In addition, 48 percent of these double victims reported that their mothers had been arrested when the woman was a child or teenager. This rate was 6.8 times greater than that for the mothers of the women not abused as children. The analysis concluded that while a portion of the women sexually abused as children were at risk of revictimization throughout their lives, others were not and that researchers and practitioners need to learn more about the complex pathways that lead to resistance or vulnerability so that effective interventions can be appropriately targeted.

Date Published: June 1, 2001