Latent Classes of Lifetime Sexual Victimization Characteristics in Women in Emerging Adulthood: Differential Relations With Emotion Dysregulation

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Abstract

Objectives: The aims of the present study were to investigate latent classes of sexual victimization among young adult women based on characteristics of their victimization experiences (e.g., relationship with the perpetrator, nature of act, and frequency) and examine differences in dimensions of emotion dysregulation across these classes and among nonvictims. Method: Participants were 491 women in the age range of 18–25 years from the United States; of these, 335 participants (M = 22.0, SD = 2.22) reported at least one experience of sexual victimization during their lifetime. Latent class analysis was used to identify groups of women based on characteristics of their sexual victimization experiences. Results: A 3-class solution was found to be most parsimonious. The classes were labeled as high-severity developmental revictimization (DRV; 43.3%), low-severity child/adolescent sexual abuse (CASA; 20.3%), and low-severity adult sexual assault (ASA; 36.4%). The DRV class reported higher rates of penetrative abuse and longer duration of abuse than the CASA class, and higher rates of injury during assault than the ASA class. Further, the DRV class reported greater difficulties in 3 dimensions of emotion regulation than the ASA class and greater deficits in emotional clarity than the CASA class. Finally, the 3 latent classes reported greater difficulties in at least 4 dimensions of emotion regulation than the nonvictimized group. Conclusions: Findings of different classes of sexual victimization suggest the multidimensionality of these experiences. Results also highlight the potential utility of interventions aimed at improving emotion regulation among women with severe childhood sexual abuse.

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