Violence Among Family Members of Children and Adolescents Evaluated for Sexual Abuse

Child Abuse Negl. 2003 Dec;27(12):1367-76. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2003.10.008.


Objectives: The two aims of this study were to: (1). describe the prevalence and characteristics of domestic adult and child physical violence in the homes of children and adolescents evaluated in a specialized sexual abuse clinic and (2). describe parent or caretaker responses to domestic adult and child violence and child sexual abuse, including tendencies to report or seek medical care.

Method: A consecutive sample of 164 subjects (ages 7-19) were interviewed in a sexual abuse clinic regarding in-home violent or abusive experiences among family members that had occurred at any time during their childhood.

Results: Fifty-two percent of these children and teenagers reported spousal violence in their home. Fifty-eight percent of child sexual offenders who were in-home males also physically abused their adult female partner. Half of in-home males who were physically violent to children also sexually abused them. In 86% of homes with partner violence, the children were also physically assaulted. There was no difference in sexual abuse disclosure rates or patterns for children living with or without adult violence.

Conclusions: Sexually abused children should be questioned about physical abuse and the presence of violence among adults in their home. Safety plans for sexually abused children should incorporate screening for family violence and safety plans for parents and siblings of child victims, when appropriate.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Domestic Violence / psychology
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Disclosure
  • United States / epidemiology