Traumatic events in childhood can lead to a lifetime of psychological problems. People who have experienced an interpersonal trauma are much more likely to be re-victimized later in life than those who have no experience of trauma. “Women with a childhood abuse history are around 1.4 to 3.7 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adulthood, and a majority (around 59%) of women with either childhood sexual assaults (CSA) or adult assaults have experienced both,” said Bridget Klest of the University of Oregon, author of a recent study that examined the effects of childhood trauma and poverty on future victimization. She added that multiple traumatic experiences add to the likelihood of future victimization and the development of post-traumatic stress symptoms. She said, “Preventing future victimization among individuals who have already experienced trauma would likely reduce this risk. Trauma-focused intervention, aimed at reducing posttraumatic symptoms including dissociation, might serve as a strategy for such prevention, given the links between symptoms and re-victimization.”
Klest reviewed data from over 400 individuals who were part of the Eugene-Springfield Community Sample (ESCS) in 1993. The participants ranged in age from 18-83 and were from various socio-economic statuses. Using several measures, including the Curious Experiences Survey and the Brief Betrayal Trauma Survey, the participants reported traumatic events, dissociative behaviors and poverty levels.
The study revealed that women experienced more betrayal trauma in childhood and adulthood than men, and the childhood experienced forecasted future victimization in adulthood. “Putting this in context, on average for every 2–3 types of childhood victimization a person reported, they experienced one additional type of victimization as an adult,” said Klest. She also noticed that participants who experienced the most traumas were from the poorest communities. She said, “It seems that efforts targeting people who were victimized in childhood who are currently living in poorer communities might have potential for reducing re-victimization.”
Klest, B. (2011, July 18). Childhood Trauma, Poverty, and Adult Victimization. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0024468
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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