THE RELATION OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA TO ADULT VICTIMIZATION OF WOMEN
Doss, Brendel R.
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Childhood trauma and neglect affects the individual and the larger society in a negative way. Negative life events like child abuse and neglect do not stay within childhood. The long-term aftermath of child trauma is seen in the higher symptom rates of depression and anxiety, increased risk-taking behaviors, interpersonal and relational difficulties, and higher rates of physical health problems. Adding to the challenging possible outcomes is a significantly higher likelihood of a re-traumatization or revictimization. Research has indicated key variables that may function to protect against or promote adult sexual victimization for survivors of child trauma and neglect. Trauma and neglect occurring during childhood disturbs the development of secure attachments and causes possible distortion in understanding healthy, secure relationships. Additionally, how an individual responds after a traumatic event may affect the possibility of a traumatic event in the future. Hyperarousal, such as feeling watchful and on guard, is a criterion for posttraumatic stress disorder and common reaction after a traumatic event occurs. Variables such as attachment security and behavioral hyper-arousal may contribute to rates of revictimization for survivors of childhood trauma and neglect. The current study evaluated the contributions of childhood trauma, insecure attachment style, and levels of hyper-arousal to adult revictimization. It was hypothesized that more severe experiences of childhood sexual trauma, higher levels of insecure attachment styles, and higher levels of hyper-arousal behaviors will predict the occurrence of adult sexual revictimization in a sample of college women. Additionally, exploratory analysis was conducted to evaluate whether experiences of different forms of abuse or neglect occurring during childhood and insecure attachments along with hyperaroused responses to stressful life events, also would predict adult sexual victimization. Results of the logistic regression indicate that the three-predictor model of the main analysis (experiences of child sexual abuse, insecure attachment styles, and hyper aroused behaviors) provided a statistically significant improvement over the constant only model. While the overall model was statistically significant, the individual variables were not. Results of the four separate logistic regressions run in the exploratory analysis showed similar results to the main analysis; all the models were significant, but individual variables did not reach statistical significance. Finally, a logistic regression with only two predictors (hyperarousal and insecure attachment) augmented these findings by revealing a less significant model, compared to the main analysis. The findings of this study highlight two important points. First, independent of the type of abuse or neglect experienced in childhood, when coupled with an insecure attachment style and symptoms of hyper-arousal, child trauma and neglect predict later experiences of adult sexual assault. Second, this study adds to the evidence that the hyper-arousal symptom cluster plays an important role in understanding the relationship between adult sexual assault occurring for survivors of child trauma and neglect.