The long-term consequences of child sexual abuse: Exploring victim to perpetrator and victim to re-victim trajectories

Investigator: Nina Papalia

Supervisors: James Ogloff, Stefan Luebbers

Rationale and aims:

  • International epidemiological studies have estimated child sexual abuse (CSA) prevalence rates of up to 30 per cent in communities, with more severe forms of CSA involving sexual penetration occurring at a rate between 5 and 10 per cent.
  • Research demonstrates significant links between a history of CSA and a broad range of adverse emotional, behavioural and social outcomes for victims, expressed both in childhood and adulthood.
  • This research will investigate the link between CSA and subsequent offending and re-victimisation, and will consider the extent to which other clinical outcomes (e.g., mental illness, drug abuse, unnatural death) may co-occur with and/or mediate the relationship between CSA and offending and re-victimisation.

Methodology:

  • The study utilises an existing database (developed for a previous project undertaken by the CFBS), consisting of a sample of 2,759 children confirmed to have been sexually abused between the years of 1964 and 1995 and a matched comparison group (n=2,677).
  • The sample was subsequently linked with administrative psychiatric and police (offending and re-victimisation) and coronial databases. Each case is followed for a period of 13 to 45 years and contains detailed information on the nature of the abuse, and subsequent offending and re-victimisation.

Publications:

Papalia, N., Luebbers, S., Ogloff J.D, J. R. P., Cutajar, M., & Mullen, P. (In press). The long-term co-occurrence of psychiatric illness and behavioral problems following child sexual abuse. Aust N Z J Psychiatry DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867416667232