Objective: The objectives of this study were to describe feelings, disclosure characteristics, family dysfunction, and health risky behaviors in those adolescents having unwanted sexual experiences (USE; any kind of sexual touching that was bad, uncomfortable, or forced) with multiple perpetrators and to compare these parameters with those adolescents having USE(s) with single perpetrators. Method: A cross-sectional survey of consecutive waiting room patients from four clinic sites was done in 538 adolescents and young adults; 76% of the study population were Hispanic and over half were poor. One hundred sixty-one subjects with single perpetrator USE(s) were compared with 97 subjects who had USE(s) with more than one perpetrator. Results: Victims of multiple perpetrators were more likely than victims of single perpetrators to react with self-blame and delay disclosure of USE due to shame. When compared with victims of single perpetrators, those with multiple perpetrators were more likely to disclose their USE to protect self or others or because they became weary or intolerant of the abuse. Although family violence and substance abuse were common in both victims of single and multiple perpetrators of USE, these factors appeared to potentiate the likelihood of repeated victimization in childhood. Prevalence of health risky behaviors did not differ between the two groups. Conclusions: The findings indicated that sexual revictimization by multiple perpetrators is not uncommon and suggest that abused children should be questioned about this possibility. Children and teenagers who have USE(s) with more than one perpetrator may have more difficulties with psychological recovery due to increased shame and self-blame.
- Child sexual abuse
- Multiple perpetrators
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health