TitleTrauma Chronicity and the Long-Term Needs of Childhood Sexual Trauma Survivors
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSchuyler, A, Catania, JA
Pagination367 - 384
Date Published07/2022

Research has linked childhood sexual trauma (CST) with adverse adult outcomes (AAOs) that span physical, psychological, and social domains of functioning. Differences in conceptualizing and measuring CST, however, have inhibited the examination of trauma-related variables hypothesized to impact adult outcomes. We used National Sexual Health Survey (NSHS; 1995–1996) data to examine trauma chronicity (i.e., duration) and AAOs (domains: physical and mental health, close relationships, and achievement). The NSHS (N = 6537, 18–70 years) assessed duration using perpetrator-specific CST reports. Adjusting for background characteristics, we examined CST duration in relation to AAOs and CST-related help-seeking. Approximately 8% of participants reported CST. Chronic (vs. single-exposure) CST survivors were at substantially higher risk of experiencing AAOs [i.e., mean AAOs and specific AAOs (e.g., physical and emotional health problems, divorce/separation, and poverty)]. CST had direct effects on sexual dysfunction and satisfaction, and on relationship stressors which may impact sexual relationship quality. Although 62% of CST survivors did not seek help, those with more chronic CST histories reported a higher prevalence of trauma-related help-seeking. Our work underscores the importance of examining CST chronicity in relation to long-term developmental outcomes. Chronicity assessment may be an important screening tool in the therapeutic context and in broader community screening efforts.

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