Young female survivors of sexual abuse in Malaysia and depression: What factors are associated with better outcome?

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Abstract

Introduction:

Research in the field of child sexual abuse is lacking in Malaysia. The aims of this study are to identify the association between sociodemographic factors and depression among sexually abused females.

Methods:

A cross-sectional study was conducted among 51 young sexually abused female attendees at the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) clinic of Hospital Kuala Lumpur, a tertiary referral centre. Upon obtaining informed consent from participant and guardian, participants were screened for depression using the Strength and Difficulty Questionnaire (SDQ) and interviewed using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School Aged Children (K-SADS) for depressive disorders and K-SADS-PL (Present and Lifetime version) to diagnose depression. Sociodemographic data and details of the abuse were also obtained.

Results:

Of the survivors, 33.3% were depressed. Univariate analysis showed significant association between legal guardianship, living environment and duration of abuse with depression, however, multivariate analyses later showed that the sole predictor for depression was living environment. Respondents who lived with others were 23-times more likely to be depressed as compared to those who lived with their parents.

Discussion:

Depression is common among young survivors of sexual abuse. Those who lived with parents appeared to have a better outcome. Thus, further research to explore possible protective factors associated with living with parents is vital. This will help clinicians develop strategies to empower parents and families help these young survivors get back on track with their lives despite the abuse.

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