Childhood trauma and adult prostitution behavior in a multiethnic heterosexual drug-using population

Martha A. Medrano, John P. Hatch, William A. Zule, David P. Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A cross-sectional study of the association between severity of childhood trauma and adult prostitution behaviors was conducted among 676 heterosexual drug addicts in San Antonio, Texas. Three hundred and fifty eight women and 338 men taking part in a national multisite program for AIDS prevention research completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire as part of a comprehensive risk behavior assessment. Women addicts in the sample were less educated, more likely to be in a common-law relationship, living with someone of the opposite sex or separated, and had lower incomes in comparison to men addicts. Among male subjects, higher educational levels and older age were positively associated with prostitution activities. Single female subjects were three times more likely to engage in selling sex than married subjects. Single women with higher incomes were more likely to be prostituting than single women with lower incomes. Black women reporting severe degrees of emotional abuse, emotional neglect, or physical neglect were more likely to engage in prostitution behavior than Hispanic or white women with similar levels of trauma. Black men with a history of childhood physical abuse were more likely to use prostitutes than Hispanic or white men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-486
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 26 2003


  • AIDS
  • Drug abuse
  • Ethnic minority groups
  • HIV
  • Prostitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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