, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 261-281

Type and extent of child abuse as predictors of adult functioning

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Child abuse is associated with a variety of difficulties later in life. However, it is unclear to what extent these outcomes are related to the type and combinations of abuse (i.e., sexual versus physical) rather than the variable characteristics within each type. Information regarding child abuse histories as well as current functioning was gathered from a community sample of 259 working women. Incest and severe physical abuse were each associated with similar symptoms, with people who were more severely abused showing worse outcomes. Those women who were both physically and sexually abused had less favorable outcomes than those abused in only one manner. The effects of abuse could not be understood without taking combinations of different types and severities into account. The implications of the similarities of the outcomes of severe sexual and physical abuse were discussed.