Interpersonal Victimization Patterns and Psychopathology Among Latino Women: Results From the SALAS Study

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Research on the victimization of Latino women and the subsequent psychological impact has been limited by focusing on individual forms of victimization, primarily partner violence or sexual assault. Another deficiency includes mainly using convenience and/or geographically restricted samples, which impacts the generalizability of the results. To overcome these research limitations, the Sexual Assault Among Latinas (SALAS) study aimed to evaluate the broader scope of victimization among Latino women. The study surveyed a national sample of 2,000 Latino women using random digit dial methodology. Women were asked about various forms of victimization in childhood and adulthood including physical assaults, sexual assaults, stalking, threats, and witnessed violence, as well as psychological symptomatology including depression, anxiety, anger, and dissociation. This analysis found that victimized women were more likely to experience some form of polyvictimization and/or revictimization throughout their lives, with only 36% of victimized women experiencing one form of victimization in childhood or adulthood alone. Furthermore, multiple victimization experiences significantly increased the proportion of women who experienced psychological distress symptoms in the clinical range. For almost all evaluated symptoms, the multiple forms of victimization or varying victimization patterns significantly predicted clinical levels of psychological distress over any specific form or single incident of victimization. The results suggest that victimized Latino women experience multiple forms of victimization and that the evaluation of a broader spectrum of victimization better accounts for pathological symptomatology. Clinical implications for Latino women and future research directions are discussed.

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