By means of a recently constructed anamnestic instrument, the questionnaire Childhood Unwanted Sexual Events (the CHUSE), the incidence of childhood experiences with sexual threat and/or abuse is investigated among 152 female psychiatric patients. The construction and applicability of the questionnaire are described. A Guttman scale-analysis shows a unidimensional construct (severity of the sexual abuse) for the CHUSE. Within this psychiatric population, sexually abused women report significantly more psychopathological symptoms than non-abused women. The correlation between severity of the abuse and severity of the psychopathological symptoms is investigated. The use of questionnaires concerning sexual abuse is compared with the more common interview techniques, and suggestions for future research are given.