A vast literature has documented that early sexual victimization is associated with a variety of mental health difficulties for adult women (e.g., PTSD, substance abuse). Even more disturbing is that the same women who suffer maltreatment during childhood or adolescence are up to ten times more likely to be sexually victimized again as adults. Known as "revictimization," this problem has generated tremendous research interest in recent years geared largely at establishing prevalence rates and identifying factors associated with this phenomenon. Although informative, this initial work has yet to explain the processes by which childhood or adolescence victimization is linked to adult revictimization. In response to this need, the present project integrates past findings within a longitudinal framework to elucidate pathways linking initial maltreatment to adult revictimization. In particular, mechanisms related to psychopathology, sexual risk taking, and alcohol use will be examined. The present study also takes the additional step of examining the antecedents that give rise to the more immediate determinants of adult sexual victimization. Specifically, drawing on recent theoretical and empirical findings we propose that difficulties with emotion regulation stemming from early abuse serve as underlying risk factors for the more immediate psychosocial predictors of revictimization. Together, these findings will permit the testing of a comprehensive model of revictimization.
Sexual violence against women is an endemic societal problem that has been associated with myriad sequelae such as posttraumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, interpersonal difficulties, and serious health problems such as HIV. Understanding risk factors for victimization is critical to the development of effective sexual assault prevention and treatment programs designed to reduce the societal burden of these experiences.
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