Trauma Violence & Abuse

Published by SAGE

Online ISSN: 1552-8324


Print ISSN: 1524-8380


Juvenile Sex Offenders Compared to Non-Sex Offenders A Review of the Literature 1995-2005
  • Literature Review
  • Full-text available

November 2006


976 Reads



Rolf Loeber




An unresolved but clinically important issue in the literature on juvenile delinquency is to what extent juvenile sex offenders resemble non-sex offenders with respect to individual, familial, and environmental characteristics. The current article reviewed published studies (1995-2005) comparing sex offenders with non-sex offenders. The 17 articles meeting the inclusion criteria suggest that differences exist between sex offenders and non-sex offenders on personality characteristics, behavioral problems, history of sexual abuse, nonsexual offending, and peer functioning. Inconsistent results were found for demographic factors, family functioning and background, antisocial attitudes, and intellectual and neurological functioning. Although it is likely that sex offenders can be differentiated from nonsex offenders on a number of characteristics, caution is warranted because of methodological differences between studies and small samples size. Also, studies show that sex offenders are a heterogeneous group. Further research should take into account this heterogeneity by including sex offenders from clearly circumscribed groups and investigating characteristics specifically related to sexual behavior.

Academy on Violence and Abuse: Highlights of Proceedings From the 2011 Conference, "Toward a New Understanding"

July 2013


23 Reads

In April 2011, the Academy on Violence Abuse ( convened a network of experts for its second annual conference, "Developing the Science of Violence and Abuse: Toward a New Understanding." The conference served as a forum for highlighting the growing body of research regarding the biological consequences and adverse health consequences of abuse. In doing so, it underscored an important scientific premise: By evaluating the impact of violence and abuse from birth to death, one can better evaluate the social, behavioral, psychological, and biological context and pathways that result in the morbidity, mortality, and quality of life of all affected individuals and communities. In this article, we summarize content presented by the conference's keynote speakers and provide citations that speakers have submitted to support their statements.

Dowry in 21st-Century India: The Sociocultural Face of Exploitation

July 2013


1,850 Reads

The World Health Organization (2009) implicates deep-rooted cultural and social norms as influential contributing factors toward physical and intimate partner violence against women. The dowry system is a social practice that perpetuates the oppression, torture, and murder of women in India. The practice of dowry is an expected part of marriage in cultures where arranged marriages are the norm. Violence can occur when the dowry or bride-price is deemed unsatisfactory by the recipient. In India, in spite of laws prohibiting the practice, not much has changed over the last 30 years. The National Crime Records Bureau of India, recorded a total of 8,618 female deaths related to dowry disputes in 2011, and the Asian Women's Human Rights Council (2009) estimates that the practice of dowry is implicated in 25,000 deaths and maiming of women between the ages of 15-34 in India every year. The current review of literature reveals that despite efforts on the part of the Indian government, social activists and feminists organizations in India, not much has changed over the past decade, in fact, the problem has increased, resulting in an unprecedented amount of mortality and morbidity among women in India.

Dissociative Experiences of Women Child Abuse Survivors: A Selective Constructivist Review

November 2003


118 Reads

A selective literature review of dissociation in women abuse survivors was under-taken from a feminist, constructivist perspective. Dissociation has been conceptualized many ways historically. Current understandings of dissociative phenomena are diverse, as reflected in the research and treatment literature. Dissociation has been linked to physical and psychological problems, including major mental illnesses, pelvic pain, somatization disorders, and eating disorders. There has been a preoccupation with rare but fascinating extremes of dissociation, such as multiple personality disorder, with less emphasis on more frequently seen types of dissociation, such as depersonalization and derealization. Views of dissociation as it occurs in women child abuse survivors affect their autonomy and perceived credibility and determine treatment trajectories. Questions remain as to what aspects and types of dissociation are "pathological." There is evidence that dissociation may be a commonplace human experience in the general population. Implications for theory, research, and practice are included.

Table 1 . Studies Examining the Projective Drawings of Sexually Abused Children 
Table 2 . Studies Examining the Projective Drawings of Physically Abused Children 
Can Projective Drawings Detect if a Child Experienced Sexual or Physical Abuse?: A Systematic Review of the Controlled Research
Clinical observations have suggested that children who experience physical or sexual abuse may provide indicators in their drawings that can distinguish them from nonabused children. Some have even suggested that a child's drawings and the interpretive testimony of a trained mental health clinician should be admissible in court as evidence of a child's abuse status. Many of these comments, however, may reflect a limited consideration of the available research. The current article provides a comprehensive literature review of the controlled research to determine whether any graphic indicators (e.g., genitalia, omission of body parts) or predefined scoring system can reliability and validly discriminate abused from nonabused children. Results indicate that, although individual studies have found support for various indicators or scoring systems, these results are rarely replicated, many times studies finding significant results suffer from serious methodological flaws and alternative explanations for findings (e.g., mental illness) are often present. No graphic indicator or scoring system possessed sufficient empirical evidence to support its use for identifying sexual or physical abuse. A discussion of the legal ramifications of these results is provided.

Table 1 . Summary of Study Characteristics and Protective Factors. 
Resilience in Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

October 2015


12,309 Reads

Objective. This review article summarizes empirical research on resilience in survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) and discusses protective factors that are associated with adaptive functioning in spite of sexual victimization. Methods. A literature search to identify studies published up to November 2013 was performed within the databases PsycINFO, MEDLINE/PubMed, Web of Science, and PSYNDEXplus. Additional relevant studies were retrieved using a snowball technique. A total of 37 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final sample. Results. In the studies included in this review, the percentage of CSA survivors who were found to have a normal level of functioning despite a history of sexual abuse ranged from 10% to 53%. The protective factors that had the best empirical support were found to be education, interpersonal and emotional competence, control beliefs, active coping, optimism, social attachment, external attribution of blame, and most importantly, support from the family and the wider social environment. Conclusions. Preventive and clinical interventions for survivors of CSA should utilize psychoeducation and cognitive strategies that are adapted to the developmental level of the victim and that seek to enhance social support from significant others. Future research should focus on longitudinal research designs considering resilience rather as a dynamic process with multiple dimensions in a social and developmental context.

Figure 1. Important physiologic regulators of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis are shown below. In addition, specific structures, neurochemicals, or somatic systems that are known to be influenced by violence/abuse are highlighted in red. 
Physiologic Changes Associated With Violence and Abuse Exposure: An Examination of Related Medical Conditions

December 2011


131 Reads

Although the extant evidence is replete with data supporting linkages between exposure to violence or abuse and the subsequent development of medical illnesses, the underlying mechanisms of these relationships are poorly defined and understood. Physiologic changes occurring in violence- or abuse-exposed individuals point to potentially common biological pathways connecting traumatic exposures with medical outcomes. Herein, the evidence describing the long-term physiologic changes in abuse- and violence-exposed populations and associated medical illnesses are reviewed. Current data support that (a) specific neurobiochemical changes are associated with exposure to violence and abuse; (b) several biological pathways have the potential to lead to the development of future illness; and (c) common physiologic mechanisms may moderate the severity, phenomenology, or clinical course of medical illnesses in individuals with histories of exposure to violence or abuse. Importantly, additional work is needed to advance our emerging understanding of the biological mechanisms connecting exposure to violence and abuse and negative health outcomes.

Mediators of the Link between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Emotional Distress A Critical Review

February 2005


3,024 Reads

A history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a risk factor for adult emotional distress, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, dissociation, and trauma. However, CSA is likely associated with adult distress indirectly through an impact on mediating variables. In a review of the empirical literature, the authors found support for the roles of shame or self-blame, interpersonal difficulties, and avoidant coping strategies as mediators. In addition, emotional distress appears to mediate links between CSA and other adverse outcomes, such as alcohol abuse and revictimization. The authors conclude with a number of methodological and conceptual recommendations.

Preventing Female-Perpetrated Sexual Abuse

February 2007


1,028 Reads

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are serious public health concerns. Although almost all of the research shows that the majority of sexual perpetrators are males, there is growing evidence that female-perpetrated sexual abuse is not rare and that the consequences of female-perpetrated sexual abuse can be just as traumatic as male-perpetrated sexual abuse. Despite this, there has been very little research published that has focused on female sex offending. Furthermore, although there have been some efforts in the past decade to stop sexual offenses by targeting potential perpetrators, few efforts have specifically focused on preventing females from becoming sex offenders. In an attempt to fill this gap, this article describes common characteristics of female sex offenders; and, based on these characteristics, suggestions are given of possible ways to intervene in the lives of at-risk females before they offend.

Mutable Influences on Intimate Partner Abuse Screening in Health Care Settings: A Synthesis of the Literature

November 2005


58 Reads

For more than a decade, professional medical and nursing associations have recommended universal screening for intimate partner abuse (IPA). This review of 44 studies examines IPA screening during this period. The purposes of the review are to (a) identify mutable influences on IPA screening, (b) summarize what is known about altering these influences, and (c) outline an agenda for improving IPA screening. Evidence to date indicates that screening is not universal. Promising approaches to improvement start with provider training and relatively simple environmental adjustments. Unanswered empirical questions include "What are the essential components of effective training? Which health care providers are best positioned to screen under which circumstances? Which of the untested mutable influences will further improve IPA screening practice?" The review leads to the following practice recommendations: (a) Interventions should focus on clinicians in training (e.g., medical residents), and (b) screening approaches must be tailored to various practice settings.

A Review on the Prevalence and Measurement of Elder Abuse in the Community

July 2013


324 Reads

Objectives: Aging is a rising phenomenon globally and elder abuse is becoming increasingly recognized as a health and social problem. This review aimed to identify the prevalence of elder abuse in community settings, and discuss issues regarding measurement tools and strategies to measure elderly abuse by systematically reviewing all community-based studies conducted worldwide. Method: Articles on elder abuse from 1990 to 2011 were reviewed. A total of 1,832 articles referring to elders residing at home either in their own or at relatives' houses were searched via CINAHL and MEDLINE electronic databases, in addition to a hand search of the latest articles in geriatric textbooks and screening references, choosing a total of 26 articles for review. Results: Highest prevalence was reported in developed countries, with Spain having 44.6% overall prevalence of suspicion of abuse and developing countries exhibiting lower estimates, from 13.5% to 28.8%. Physical abuse was among the least encountered, with psychological abuse and financial exploitation being the most common types of maltreatment reported. To date, there is no single gold standard test to ascertain abuse, with numerous tools and different methods employed in various studies, coupled with varying definitions of thresholds for age. Conclusion: Current evidences show that elder abuse is a common problem in both developed and developing countries. It is important that social, health care, and legal systems take these findings into consideration in screening for abuse or reforming existing services to protect the health and welfare of the elderly.

Figure 2: Boxplots of Rates for Criminal Justice Decisions NOTE: Black lines represent the median. Boxes represent the middle half of the distribution. Lines extending from boxes ("whiskers") represent the remainder of the distribution except for outliers and extremes, which are represented by O and asterisk (*), respectively. The study number for each outlier and extreme is shown. 
Prosecution of Child Abuse A Meta-Analysis of Rates of Criminal Justice Decisions

November 2003


2,433 Reads

This study meta-analyzed rates of criminal justice decisions in 21 studies of prosecution of child abuse. Rates of referral to prosecution, filing charges, and incarceration varied considerably. Rates of carrying cases forward without dismissal were consistently 72% or greater. For cases carried forward, plea rates averaged 82% and conviction rates 94%. Compared to national data, child abuse was less likely to lead to filing charges and incarceration than most other felonies but more likely to be carried forward without dismissal. Diversion, guilty plea, and trial and conviction rates were about the same for child abuse and all violent crimes. Thus, prosecuting child abuse is generally neither feckless nor reckless. Rates can be misleading and cannot be the sole measure of prosecution success.

Significance, Nature, and Direction of the Association Between Child Sexual Abuse and Conduct Disorder: A Systematic Review

March 2014


140 Reads

To elucidate the significance, nature, and direction of the potential relationship between child sexual abuse and conduct disorder, all the pertinent studies were reviewed. Ten databases were searched. Blind assessments of study eligibility and quality were performed by two independent researchers. Thirty-six studies including 185,358 participants and meeting minimum quality criteria that were enough to ensure objectivity and to not invalidate results were analyzed. Across the majority of studies, conduct disorder was significantly and directly related to child sexual abuse, especially repeated sexual molestation and abuse involving penetration, even after controlling for various sociodemographic, family, and clinical variables. The association between child sexual abuse and conduct disorder was not confounded by other risk factors, such as gender, socioeconomic status, school achievement, substance problems, physical abuse, parental antisocial behavior or substance problems, parent-child relationships, and family disruption, conflict, or violence. Evidence for a significant interactive effect between child sexual abuse and monoamine oxidase A gene on conduct disorder was scant. Early sexual abuse might predispose to the subsequent onset of conduct disorder which, in turn, may lead to further sexual victimization through association with sexually abusive peers or involvement in dangerous situations or sexual survival strategies.

Risk and Protective Factors for Physical and Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents in Africa: A Review and Implications for Practice

March 2014


2,736 Reads

There is now conclusive evidence of the major and long-lasting negative effects of physical and sexual abuse on children. Within Africa, studies consistently report high rates of child abuse, with prevalence as high as 64%. However, to date, there has been no review of factors associated with physical and sexual child abuse and polyvictimization in Africa. This review identified 23 quantitative studies, all of which showed high levels of child abuse in varying samples of children and adults. Although studies were very heterogeneous, a range of correlates of abuse at different levels of the Model of Ecologic Development were identified. These included community-level factors (exposure to bullying, sexual violence, and rural/urban location), household-level factors (poverty, household violence, and non-nuclear family), caregiver-level factors (caregiver illness in particular AIDS and mental health problems, caregiver changes, family functioning, parenting, caregiver-child relationship, and substance abuse), and child-level factors (age, disability, physical health, behavior, and gender). These findings identify key associated factors that are potential foci of child abuse prevention interventions. In addition, there is a clear need for further rigorous longitudinal research into predictive factors and culturally relevant interventions.

The Health Care Experiences of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

February 2008


370 Reads

This systematic review analyzes empirically based medical literature relevant to the experiences of adult survivors of sexual abuse in the health care setting and what is known about providing sensitive care to this population. Effects of this trauma may impact the adult survivor's experience of care, health behaviors, and outcomes. The 10 articles reviewed in this study provide patient-based information on the experience of child sexual abuse and its impact on health and health care for patients. Suggestions are made for health care providers in two main areas: facilitation of communication and disclosure issues, and improving the experience of the health care encounter for survivors. Specific strategies are offered to assist in providing nonthreatening care encounters for adults who have been affected by childhood sexual trauma. Implications for research, practice, and policy for patients, health care providers, and social workers in the health care setting are discussed.

Children Intoxications: What is Abuse and What is Not Abuse

December 2012


76 Reads

The curiosity and the natural tendency to explore the environment put young children at an increased risk of poisoning over older children and adults. Poisonings are a significant area of concern from 1 year of age and progressively contribute more to overall rates of morbidity and mortality until children reach adulthood. Particularly, the abuse of children by poisoning is also highly common with thousands of fatalities. A practical strategy is presented that aims to alert health, forensic, and law enforcement professionals to this problem and to demystify the preconception that it is a rare form of abuse or neglect. Compounds that are foreign to a living organism (xenobiotics) and those present within body (endobiotics), mainly involved in children intoxications and contextual examples related to exposure are also reviewed. Particular concern is given to concepts in the field of children poisoning. The described history and the clinical and toxicological evaluation are discussed, and harmonized protocols regarding correct procedures for sample collection to forensic toxicological analysis are proposed. Since children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of high doses of xenobiotics and endobiotics, special consideration on the preparation of the environment that surrounds children in order minimize all possible risks will be also considered.

Promoting Successful Collaborations Between Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse Treatment Service Sectors: A Review of the Literature

August 2012


128 Reads

Women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization are more likely to struggle with substance abuse problems than are women who do not experience IPV. Given the connection between IPV victimization and substance abuse, recommended practices urge collaboration between domestic violence service agencies and substance abuse treatment agencies to provide comprehensive services for women with these co-occurring problems. However, domestic violence and substance abuse services have unique histories of development that have led to distinct ways of service delivery. To promote successful collaborations, service providers and researchers are developing strategies to foster relationships across the two service sectors. The authors conducted a review of this emerging body of knowledge with the aim of assembling recommendations for strategies to foster collaboration between domestic violence and substance abuse services. The authors identified 15 documents for review inclusion and our analysis established 5 categories of documents. Findings yield key collaboration strategies and recommended service models. In addition, the review determined the existence of considerable challenges to promoting collaborative relationships between domestic violence and substance abuse treatment service sectors.

Table 1: 'Headline' findings on child sexual abuse 
Child Sexual Abuse, Links to Later Sexual Exploitation/High-Risk Sexual Behavior, and Prevention/Treatment Programs

October 2010


4,254 Reads

This paper reviews the literature on the nature and incidence of child sexual abuse, explores the link between child sexual abuse and later sexual exploitation, and reviews the literature on prevention strategies and effective interventions in child sexual abuse services. Our understanding of the international epidemiology of child sexual abuse is considerably greater than it was just 10 years ago, and studies from around the world are examined. Childhood sexual abuse can involve a wide number of psychological sequelae, including low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Numerous studies have noted that child sexual abuse victims are vulnerable to later sexual revictimization, as well as the link between child sexual abuse and later engagement in high-risk sexual behaviour. Survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to have multiple sex partners, become pregnant as teenagers, and experience sexual assault as adults. Various models which attempt to account for this inter-relationship are presented; most invoke mediating variables such as low self-esteem, drug/alcohol use, PTSD and distorted sexual development. Prevention strategies for child sexual abuse are examined including media campaigns, school-based prevention programmes, and therapy with abusers. The results of a number of meta-analyses are examined. However, researchers have identified significant methodological limitations in the extant research literature that impede the making of recommendations for implementing existing therapeutic programmes unreservedly.

Resistance, Reluctance, and Readiness in Perpetrators of Abuse Against Women and Children

November 2007


462 Reads

Perpetrators of abuse and violence against women and children are often reluctant participants in intervention programs. They frequently fail to attend scheduled appointments, are sometimes openly hostile to intervention staff, and often judge program materials as irrelevant to their situation. Recognizing this problem, researchers and practitioners have begun to develop models and tools to more appropriately assess and intervene with reluctant clients. Unfortunately, the resulting proliferation and inconsistent application of terms and theories have led to considerable confusion in characterizing reluctant clients and have significantly hampered research on strategies that may be helpful to better meet the needs of this client group. The purpose of this review is to help standardize the definition and measurement of treatment reluctance as it applies to violence perpetration and to review evidence for the importance of these aspects of client reluctance to intervention. Recommendations for assessing reluctance in research and clinical practice are also provided.

Relationship of Abuse History to Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and Symptoms: Some Possible Mediating Mechanisms
The primary goals of this article are to review the evidence that links sexual and physical abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV) with functional gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and disorders and to explore physiological mechanisms that might mediate these health effects. The literature cited in this review has shown strong and consistent relationships of sexual and physical abuse history and IPV with functional GI symptoms and disorders. Among patients with these disorders, abuse history is associated with worse health-related quality of life, more health care utilization, and more pain. Although research has not determined what mechanisms might account for these associations, alterations in psychophysiological and cortico-limbic pain modulatory systems have been suggested. Given the high prevalence of abuse and long-lasting health consequences, referral for psychiatric and psychological treatment makes sense for many patients with abuse history seen within medical settings.

Psychotherapies for Trauma and Substance Abuse in Women: Review and Policy Implications

August 2009


55 Reads

Women are subject to high rates of interpersonal violence. One frequent co-occurring issue is substance abuse, which may arise posttrauma as a way to cope. In this article, psychosocial therapies for co-occurring trauma and substance abuse are reviewed. Description of empirically studied models is provided, as well as results of the empirical studies. Overall, this area of work suggests positive growth in the availability of new models but very limited empirical work thus far for all but one model. Directions for the future include the need for greater study of treatments in this area, as well as the need to address issues beyond specific models (e.g., workforce issues, access to care, and changing the culture of treatment systems). Policy implications are also offered.

Table 1 (continued) 
Table 1 . Published Works in Disabilities and Abuse. 
Table 1 (continued) 
Table 1 (continued) 
Women With Disabilities’ Experience With Physical and Sexual Abuse

November 2011


4,303 Reads

While studies suggest that the rate of abuse of women with disabilities is similar or higher compared to the general population, there continues to be a lack of attention to this issue. Women with disabilities are at particularly high risk of abuse, both through typical forms of violence (physical, sexual, and emotional) and those that target one's disability. In an effort to highlight the need for increased attention to this issue, this article reviews the current peer-reviewed research in this field. The authors outline recommendations for future research goals and provide implications for research, practice, and policy.

Recognition of and Intervention in Forced Marriage as a Form of Violence and Abuse

May 2012


368 Reads

This paper highlights the importance of recognising forced marriage as a form of violence and draws attention to the interventions that are developing in Europe as a response to forced marriage. The paper highlights the difficulties of conflating all child marriages as forced marriage and discusses the different contexts of childhood in different parts of the globe. The UK is reputed to have the widest range of policy interventions and practice guidance to tackle forced marriage and is therefore used as a case study in this paper, but reference is also made to other countries thus ensuring a wider relevance. The paper's analysis of UK based research studies on forced marriage identifies three key themes: i) lack of adequate reporting of incidents of forced marriage; ii) lack of professional knowledge of forced marriage and their fear of intervention; iii) the tension between conceptualizing forced marriage as purely cultural or as a form of gender based violence. It also highlights the largely legislative responses to forced marriage in Europe; Civil Protection for victims of forced marriage in the UK is discussed and a critical analysis is offered of the increase in marriage and sponsorship age in the UK and in many European countries. Health and clinical issues related to forced marriage are highlighted and the paper calls for further research globally to i) better understand the extent and nature of forced marriage; ii) to evaluate current interventions; iii) to investigate the clinical and potential mental health implications of forced marriage.

Psychological Trauma and Substance Abuse: The Need for an Integrated Approach

October 2010


4,383 Reads

There is consensus that an integrated approach which addresses the clinical needs of individuals who have histories of substance abuse and psychological trauma concurrently is an acceptable and preferred approach to treatment. Several integrated models have emerged in recent years. In this paper we first define the concepts of substance abuse and psychological trauma, investigate the relationship between both and proceed to discuss why an integrated approach is most compelling. Finally, we review and critically examine the different integrated models that have been developed in terms of efficacy, effectiveness and empirical evidence. The paper concludes with suggestions on how the field can be improved.

Top-cited authors