The combined effects of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during childhood: long-term health consequences for women

Child Abuse Negl. 1993 Sep-Oct;17(5):623-40. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(93)90084-i.


The long-term health effects of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse during childhood were studied in a sample of 668 middle class females in a gynecologic practice who responded to a self-administered, anonymous questionnaire covering demographic information, family history, physical and psychological health, as well as stressful events and abusive experiences as a child. Half (53%) of the sample reported childhood abuse, with 28.9% recounting exposure to one type of abuse, 18.7% to two types of abuse, and 5.4% to all three types of abuse. In comparison to women not abused during childhood, the abused reported significantly more hospitalizations for illnesses, a greater number of physical and psychological problems, and lower ratings of their overall health. The greater the number of childhood abuses, the poorer one's adult health and the more likely one was to have experienced abuse as an adult. Thus, in addition to the deleterious psychological consequences of abuse described in the literature, physical health also appears to be adversely affected in women abused as children.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Abuse* / psychology
  • Child Abuse* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Abuse, Sexual* / epidemiology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual* / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health*