Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse in Women Seeking Help for Sexual and Reproductive Mental Health Problems: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Disclosure

J Child Sex Abus. 2017 Apr;26(3):246-269. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2017.1288186.


This is a multicentric, descriptive, cross-sectional study of child and adolescent sexual abuse in women over 18 years in 24 primary care sexual and reproductive health centers in Catalonia. A total of 1,013 women were recruited; 345 (37.6%, 95% CI: 34.6-40.9) reported exposure to child sexual abuse: 32.4% disclosed being touched in a sexual way, and 9.6% reported completed sexual intercourse. Abuse occured before the age of 13 in 63.4% of respondents. The perpetrator was a relative or an acquaintance in almost 80% of cases. The risk was higher among women of Central or South American origin (OR: 2.86; 95% CI: 1.33-6.12). Only 31.9% of women disclosed the abuse and 17.3% were blamed. Abuse that involved attempted or completed sexual intercourse was significantly associated with recurrence, physical violence, and revictimization in adulthood.

Keywords: Reproductive Health Services; Spain; adults; female; primary health care; rape; recurrence.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Help-Seeking Behavior
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Reproductive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult