Childhood Sexual Abuse Severity and Disclosure as Predictors of Depression Among Adult African-American and Latina Women

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A history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has been associated with adult depression, but data on abuse severity and disclosure are scant, particularly among low-income ethnic minorities. CSA often co-occurs with other adversities, which also increase the risk of depression. This study examined the peritrauma variable of abuse severity and the posttrauma variables of disclosure and self-blame as predictors of current depression symptoms in 94 low-income African-American and Latina women with histories of CSA. After controlling for nonsexual childhood adversity and adult burden (i.e., chronic stress), severe CSA overall was associated with higher depression scores, especially among Latinas who disclosed their abuse. Depression symptoms among African-American women were highest in those who disclosed and reported high levels of self-blame at the time of the incident. The link between depression and specific peri- and post-CSA factors in minority women may help guide future interventions.

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