Females with histories of childhood abuse report rates of subsequent sexual or physical victimization at three to five times higher than their nonabused peers. Depression, dissociation, substance and alcohol use, attachment disruptions and other psychosocial problems resulting from early childhood trauma may impair judgment, foster dysfunctional romantic relationships or cause victims to remain in abusive relationships that continue the cycle of violence.
Moreover, emerging theory suggests that global disruptions of regulatory processes (characterized by the aggregate of impaired executive cognitive capacity, emotional volatility, behavioral under-control and even physiological dysregulation) might be mechanistic of further victimization. Our lab has studied the revictimization rates of females with histories of substantiated sexual abuse and has found that victims experience inordinate rates of sexual revictimization, physical revictimization and self-harm (including cutting and suicide attempts).
Our most recent research investigates the risk for internet-initiated victimization for victims of childhood abuse. Through a medium that has proliferated to nearly every US household, a significant portion of teens are at risk for compromised internet safety and internet-initiated victimization. Our research has shown that some adolescents may be at particular risk for compromised internet safety. Sexually abused adolescent females express a propensity toward pornography consumption, adopt provocative online self-presentations, encounter online sexual advances, agree to offline meetings, engage in risky sexual behaviors and experience sexual revictimization more often than their nonabused peers.
The Comprehensive Trauma Inventory (CTI)
Together with Jaclyn Barnes, MA, our team has also developed and validated the Comprehensive Trauma Inventory (CTI) to collect subjects’ traumatic life histories. The CTI was developed as a semi-structured interview to elicit factual information about, and the subject’s subsequent responses to, traumatic or upsetting life events. The CTI is based on similar interviews but is greatly expanded with respect to the assessment of details of traumatic experiences, the ability to place traumatic experiences in developmental context and the inclusion of a subjective distress rating.
Learn more about the CTI.