Comparing Dissociation and PTSD in Sexually Abused School-Aged Girls

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The aim of this study was to assess and contrast dissociation and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in a group of sexually abused school-aged girls compared with a matched group. Results from bivariate analyses show that the two symptom constellations represent distinct constructs. Logistic regression analysis indicates that sexual victimization significantly increases the odds of presenting with a clinical level of dissociation and PTSD symptoms, respectively, by eightfold and fourfold. On the basis of a multivariate design, abuse severity indicators, namely, penetration, relationship to perpetrator (intrafamilial versus extrafamilial abuse), and chronicity, did not prove predictive of dissociation symptoms. The least and the most severe forms of childhood sexual abuse both increase dissociative symptoms. The data indicate also that intrafamilial abuse and chronicity do not predict PTSD. However, abuse involving intrusive acts (penetration) does predict PTSD symptoms. Implications for intervention and further research are discussed.

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