A life history assessment of early childhood sexual abuse in women

Dev Psychol. 2005 May;41(3):553-61. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.41.3.553.


Life history theory provided a framework for examining the relations among child sexual abuse (CSA), childhood adversity, and patterns of reproductive development and behavior. A community survey that assessed CSA, life history variables (e.g., age of menarche), and social and family background was administered to 623 women (mean age=26.9 years). Independent of social and family background, CSA was associated with earlier age of (a) menarche, (b) first sexual relationship, (c) desire to have children, (d) first childbirth, and (e) lower self-evaluated physical attractiveness. Cluster analyses revealed different patterns of experiential correlates of reproductive development within the group of abused women, suggesting CSA may operate in combination with other childhood circumstances to modify the timing and pattern of individual maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autobiographies as Topic*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept
  • Social Desirability
  • Surveys and Questionnaires