Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse: Their Relationship with Depressive Symptoms in Adulthood

Lynne A. Hall, Barbara Sachs, Mary Kay Rayens, Melanie Lutenbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The purposes of this study were to determine the prevalence of childhood physical and sexual abuse among 206 low‐income single mothers and to examine the relationship of childhood abuse to current maternal depressive symptoms. Severe physical abuse was reported by 36 percent of the women. The prevalence of sexual abuse was 22 percent; more than one‐half of these women were violently abused. High depressive symptoms were reported by 51 percent of the mothers. Both severe physical abuse and sexual abuse in childhood were associated with high depressive symptoms. Women who experienced violent sexual abuse were almost four and one‐half times more likely to report high depressive symptoms, compared to the women who were not sexually abused. These findings provide further evidence that childhood abuse may have long‐term consequences for women's mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-323
Number of pages7
JournalImage: the Journal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1993


  • abuse
  • depressive symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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