Part I: Study looks at revictimization of child sexual abuse survivors

| Jul 23, 2020 | Firm News |

Researchers have in published studies repeatedly documented the adverse impacts of child sexual abuse. The most researched impact are the negative mental health outcomes of the abuse, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of guilt, anger and shame.

Australian researchers recently published their study of a less understood aspect of child sexual abuse: revictimization. That is, “the likelihood that child sexual abuse survivors will experience further sexual abuse later in life.”

Their study titled “Child Sexual Abuse and Risk of Revictimization: Impact of Child Demographics, Sexual Abuse Characteristics, and Psychiatric Disorders” was recently published in the Sage journal of Child Maltreatment.

Growing understanding

In an article about their study, two of the researchers wrote that their study aims to grow understanding of “the links between child sex abuse and re-victimization later in life, why it exists and which survivors are most vulnerable.”

Researchers Nina Papalia and James Ogloff write that past research found that half of survivors experienced sexual abuse later in life. However, those studies were limited in several ways:

  • Relying on adults to recall their sexual abuse as children
  • Asking people to recall both child abuse and revictimization at the same time
  • Considering only female survivors
  • Didn’t explore factors that make revictimization more likely or less likely

Avoiding limitations

The researchers said their aim was to avoid those limitations by reanalyzing data of 2,759 boys and girls who were sexually abused between 1964 and 1995. All of the children had been part of police investigations.

The researchers then tracked whether the child victims were in contact with police as victims of crimes as adults (also tracking the frequency and types of crimes).

Those findings were then compared “to a sample from the general population not known to have been sexually abused in childhood.”

We will have more on this study in an upcoming post to our Salem Abuse Prevention Blog. Please check back.