The American Journal of Family Therapy, 41:198–211, 2013 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0192-6187 print / 1521-0383 online DOI: 10.1080/01926187.2012.677662
Childhood Abuse and Neglect in an Outpatient Clinical Sample: Prevalence and Impact
Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy, School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA
The study examined the prevalence of ﬁve types of childhood trauma in a sample of adult clients (n = 497) as well as their longterm relation to trauma symptoms in adulthood. Results showed a high prevalence of abuse and neglect with emotional abuse and neglect being the most common ones. Emotional abuse was the best and strongest predictor of trauma symptoms in adulthood, including anxiety, depression, defensive avoidance, as well as internal confusion and emptiness. The results indicated that experience of emotional abuse is no less signiﬁcant than that of physical and sexual abuse in its long-term impact. Clinical implication was provided.
INTRODUCTION AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research of childhood abuse and neglect has gained momentum in the past years. However, a consensus in prevalence of various types of childhood abuse and neglect, a fundamental step leading to a comprehensive understanding of this traumatic experience, is still lacking. Take sexual abuse, a primary focus of childhood abuse for example, Hussey, Chang, and Kotch (2006) found 4.5% of their nationally representative probability sample reported having suffered from contact sexual abuse by the time they entered sixth grade. Putnam (2004) indicated in his ten-year research update review a range from 12% to 35% of women and 4% to 9% of men reporting unwanted sex experiences prior to age 18 in community samples. Two studies surveying adult members of health care plans found a consistent 21% of the sample reporting having experienced sexual abuse. A study using an unAddress...