Objective: This study assesses the relationship of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) to nine other categories of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), including childhood abuse, neglect, and multiple types of household dysfunction.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study data were collected from 17,337 adult health plan members who responded to a survey questionnaire. Regression models adjusted for age, race, and education were used to estimate the strength of the association of CSA to each of the other nine ACEs and a graded relationship between measures of the severity of CSA and the number of other ACEs (ACE score).
Results: CSA was reported by 25% of women and 16% of men. In comparison with persons who were not exposed to CSA, the likelihood of experiencing each category of ACE increased 2- to 3.4-fold for women and 1.6- to 2.5-fold for men (p < 0.05). The adjusted mean ACE score showed a significant positive graded relationship to the severity, duration, and frequency of CSA and an inverse relationship to age at first occurrence of CSA (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: CSA is strongly associated with experiencing multiple other forms of ACEs. The strength of this association appears to increase as the measures of severity of the CSA increases. The understanding of the interrelatedness of CSA with multiple ACEs should be considered in the design of studies, treatment, and programs to prevent CSA as well as other forms of ACEs.