Women’s recollections of victimization, psychological problems, and substance abuse

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In this article, we describe types of physical and sexual abuse that women report and some consequences of these experiences in their lives. Research questions focused on types of abuse, the age at which abuse was experienced, and correlations between abuse and other outcomes. Data were collected from 2,729 participants in the Women, Co-Occurring Disorders and Violence Study. Results showed that two thirds of participants described their sexual and/or physical abuse as beginning before age 18. Earlier onset was related to more severe current mental distress on the Brief Symptom Inventory. In general, reported age of onset for sexual and/or physical abuse was before onset of substance use. The implication for treatment of mental health disorders and substance use disorders is that interventions that account for abuse and its correlates may be more successful than interventions that do not assess for or attend to issues of abuse. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Comm Psychol 33: 479–493, 2005.