Aggressive Behavior Among Women Sexually Abused as Children

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Although research shows that sexually abused children appear to be at risk of subsequent aggressive behavior, few investigations address whether such behavior persists beyond childhood. This research describes the self-reported adolescent and adult fighting behavior of 136 women sexually abused as children and examines the role of intervening variables in the risk of such behavior. The women are part of a longitudinal study of 206 primarily low-income, urban women whose abuse was documented at the time it occurred. Fighting was common, particularly during adolescence. Adult aggression was strongly associated with being a victim of violence by an intimate partner. A history of exposure to other forms of violence significantly increased the risk of fighting while strong maternal attachments mitigated the risk, primarily by reducing the likelihood of involvement in an abusive intimate relationship.

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