Mental health pathways linking maltreatment to interpersonal revictimization during adolescence for girls in the child welfare system

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JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
DateAccepted/In press - 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2015
DatePublished (current) - 2016
Early online date29/11/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This study compares the association of histories of childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and physical neglect with revictimization among adolescent girls, and investigates the role of posttraumatic stress and symptoms of depression as mediators. Participants were 234 girls aged 12 to 19 years, who have been involved with the child welfare system in a Midwestern urban area. Data were collected from baseline surveys of a trauma-focused group program to which the participants were referred. The majority of participants were youths of color (75%) who were primarily African American (70%), and the remaining participants were White, non-Hispanic (25%). Data were collected through surveys that assessed histories of child abuse and neglect, symptoms of posttraumatic stress and depression, and experiences of physical, verbal, and relational revictimization in the last 3 months. All types of abuse and neglect were significantly associated with higher frequencies of revictimization and higher levels of posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms. Parallel mediation analyses demonstrated that both posttraumatic stress and depression fully mediated the relationships between emotional abuse and revictimization, and sexual abuse and revictimization. Physical abuse was fully mediated by posttraumatic stress, but not by depression. Results also indicated that neither posttraumatic stress nor depression were mediators for the relationship between neglect and revictimization. There were similar pathways to revictimization in adolescents from emotional and sexual abuse through posttraumatic stress and depression. Evidence is mounting for the deleterious effects of emotional abuse. There is evidence that treatment of both posttraumatic stress and depression in emotionally and sexually abused adolescents involved in child welfare is warranted to prevent future revictimization.

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© Authors 2015. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • mental health, adolescent girls, children in care, United States, maltreatment

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