Severe Social Problems

The long-term impacts of childhood sexual and physical abuse may significantly impair a person’s life and lead to serious social difficulties. Predators look for victims who have been abused as children, especially victims of sexual abuse who are vulnerable to re-victimization.

Facts and Discussion Points:

1---More than 40% of women on welfare were sexually abused as children. These women are often unable to keep a job and become homeless along with their children.1

2---Sixty percent of housed, low-income mothers on Aid For Dependent Children (AFDC) experienced severe childhood physical abuse and 42% were sexually molested as children.2

3---Victims of father-daughter incest are four times more likely than non-incest victims to be asked to pose for pornography.3

4---Children who experience multiple exposures to abuse and violence (compared to those who do not) may experience multiple (sometimes 50 or more) sexual intercourse partners and sexually transmitted disease.4

5---Promiscuity and prostitution (as a means of supporting substance abuse/addiction) have a correlation with prior sexual abuse, and result in increased risk of HIV infection.5

6---Women with a history of sexual abuse are at higher risk for unprotected sex, increased number of sexual partners, prostitution, and drug and alcohol addiction—all of which are risk factors for HIV/AIDS.6

7---Among juvenile girls identified as delinquent by a court system, more than 75% were sexually abused.7

8---Childhood abuse has a correlation with increased adolescent and young adult truancy, running away, homelessness, and risky sexual behavior.8

9---Women who were sexually abused during childhood are 2.4 times more likely to be re-victimized as adults than women who were not sexually abused.9

10---Sixty-eight percent of women with a history of childhood incest report incidents of rape or attempted rape after age 14, compared to 38% of women in a random sample.3

12---Girls who experience violence in childhood are three to four times more likely to be victims of rape than those who do not.10

13---Twice as many women with a history of incest become victims of domestic violence as women without such a history. Twice as many also report unwanted sexual advances by an unrelated authority figure.3

Severe Social Problems References

1-DeParle, J. (November 28, 1999). Life after welfare. The New York Times.

2-Bassuk, E. L., Buckner, J. C., Perloff, J. N., & Bassuk, S. S. (1998). Prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders among homeless and low-income housed mothers. American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 155(11), 11.

3-Russell, D. E. H. (1986). The secret trauma: Incest in the lives of girls and women. New York, NY: Basic Books Inc.

4-Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., Koss, M. P., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Am J Prev Med, 14:245-258.

5-R. Mazelis (personal communication, April 2002).

6-Brady et al. (2002). Physical and sexual abuse in the lives of HIV-infected women. Journal of AIDS/HIV.

7-Calhoun, O., Jurgens, E., & Chen, F. (1993). The neophyte female delinquent: A review of the literature. Adolescence, 28, 461-471.

8-Briere, J. (1992). Child abuse trauma: Theory and treatment of the lasting effects. CA: Sage Publications.

9-Wyatt, G. E., Guthrie, D., & Notgrass, C. M. (April, 1992). Differential effects of women’s child sexual abuse and subsequent sexual revictimization. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60:167-173.

10-Browne, A. (June 17, 1992). Violence against women: Relevance/or medical practitioners. Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association Report. JAMA, Vol. 257, No. 23.