Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 387-400

First online:

New directions for treatment research on sequelae of sexual abuse in persons with severe mental illness

  • Stanley D. RosenbergAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School
  • , Robert E. DrakeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School
  • , Kim MueserAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School

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Sexual abuse in childhood is increasingly recognized as an important etiologic component in a number of psychiatric disorders. One-quarter to one-third of all female children suffer sexual abuse before their eighteenth birthday, and at least one half of women with severe mental illness acknowledge such events. An even higher percentage of a particularly vulnerable group, dually diagnosed homeless women, appear to have a premorbid history of childhood victimization. In this paper, we review the emergent literature on childhood abuse, its sequelae and treatment; and discuss the implications of these data for the development of new approaches to trauma recovery in people with severe mental illness.