SEXUAL ASSAULT EXPERIENCE IN ADULTHOOD AND PRIOR VICTIMIZATION EXPERIENCES

A Prospective Analysis

Authors


  • We thank Bruce Carlson, who assisted with data analyses.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Christine A. Gidycz, 318B RTEC, Department of Psychology, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701.

Abstract

Several retrospective investigations of sexual assault have assessed the extent to which a sexual victimization experience early in life is a risk factor for a subsequent victimization experience. The present investigation was an attempt to extend previous work by conducting a prospective analysis of sexual assault in a sample of 857 college women to assess the pathways through which victimization experiences become linked. The design was such that both victims’and nonvictims’history of child and adolescent sexual victimization experiences were assessed prior to their most recent assault experience. Psychological functioning was also assessed utilizing standardized measures of depression and anxiety. After the assault experience, psychological functioning of victims was reassessed, and nonvictims were reassessed after a comparable period of time. Results of the path analysis indicated that a sexual victimization early in life is a risk factor for an adult victimization experience. Furthermore, the results revealed a link between psychological functioning and victimization experiences. The discussion emphasizes clinical implications of these findings and suggested avenues for future research.

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