Multiple Sexual Victimizations among Adolescent Boys and Girls: Prevalence and Associations with Eating Behaviors and Psychological Health

Diann M. Ackard, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of sexual abuse, including multiple victimizations, among adolescents and to examine associations among history of sexual abuse, disordered eating behaviors and psychological health. The sample included 81,247 students (40,946 girls and 40,301 boys) in 9th and 12th grades in Minnesota public schools. Sexual abuse was reported by 14.7% of girls and 6.2% of boys. Sexual abuse was associated with unhealthy eating behaviors, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and lower emotional well-being and self-esteem. Students who reported a single or multiple forms of sexual abuse were more likely than their non-abused peers to binge-eat (Odds Ratio: girls = 1.93-2.21; boys = 2.26-5.61), fast (OR: girls = 1.68-2.34; boys = 1.33-2.32), use diet pills (OR: girls = 1.50-4.30; boys = 2.99-17.29) or laxatives (OR: girls = 1.87-5.11; boys = 3.89-29.22), vomit (OR: girls = 1.75-4.06; boys = 2.82-24.16), and have suicidal thoughts/attempts (OR: girls = 3.01-6.12; boys = 3.35-9.46). Boys and girls reporting multiple sexual victimizations had the highest odds ratios for disordered eating behaviors. Future research should explore strategies for primary prevention of revictimization and secondary prevention of detrimental effects of abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-37
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 30 2003

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional well-being
  • Self-esteem
  • Sexual abuse
  • Suicide

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