AIM: To study associations between sexual abuse of girls in childhood and variables affecting life in adolescence.
METHODS: Anonymously, in the class room, all eligible female adolescents 13-18 years old (n = 1,428) in a medium-sized town completed a validated in-depth questionnaire (Q90) with 165 questions. A history of sexual offense was reported by 119 cases (8.3%, mean age 16.0 years). The remaining 1,309 girls (mean age 15.6 years) served as a comparison group.
RESULTS: Questions included body perception, health, including psychosomatic symptoms, depression, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric medication, general questions about present life, peer relations, smoking, alcohol use, delinquent behaviors, and sexual behaviors. In most areas, adolescents with a history of sexual offense responded unfavorably compared with the comparison groups. Some examples were that despite a similar body mass index, 47% of the cases felt overweight as against 31% of the remaining adolescents (p = .0001). Among the sexually abused adolescents, self-perceived depression was more common (60% vs. 37%, p = .0001), as was psychiatric medication (10% vs. 2%, p = .0003). Loneliness was reported by 23% of the cases versus 13% (p = .005). Smoking, alcohol use, and minor criminality showed similar results. Sexual risk behaviors, i.e. multiple sexual partners, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections did not differ between the two groups of girls.
CONCLUSION: Many adolescents with a history of childhood sexual offense feel unhappy, as is evident from the magnitude of the problems. This includes many aspects of adolescent life. It seems likely that the problems are at least partially related to sexual abuse in childhood.
2010. Vol. 22, no 2, 291-300 p.