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Survivors of childhood sexual abuse: approaches to therapy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

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The experience of sexual abuse in childhood is very common (Jehu, 1988). The highest estimate from the USA (Wyatt & Peters, 1986) suggests that 42% of girls up to the age of 17 have experienced abuse, and the best estimate from Britain (Baker & Duncan, 1985) would give a prevalence of between 12 and 20%. Mullen et al (1993) found in a general population of women in New Zealand an overall prevalence of abuse before the age of 16 of 32%, with 20% reporting genital contact and 3% penetrative sex. In the American series half of those abused (21% of the respondents) reported that the abuse was by a family member: the figure for intra-familial abuse in the British series was 14% of those reporting abuse, and thus about 3–5% of all the women who responded. There may be many explanations for the large international variations, including differences in definition, sampling and other aspects of methodology, but it is also possible that abuse is indeed more common in some countries than others.

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 1998 


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