Unwanted and illegal sexual experiences in childhood and adolescence

Nancy D. Kellogg, Thomas J. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Three hundred forty-two anonymous surveys regarding unwanted sexual experiences (USE) were filled out in three clinic sites: a pediatric sexual abuse clinic, family practice clinic, and family planning clinic. In the latter two clinics, 40% of females and 16% of males had at least one unwanted sexual experience prior to turning 18 years old. Only 91% of the sexual abuse clinic patients indicated their experience was unwanted. In addition, 27% of the subjects had wanted sexual experiences that were illegal and underreported: These experiences involved a partner at least 4 years older or younger. While feelings of victimization were most common, self-blame and naivete about the abuse were also frequently reported, especially in those who had an USE with a peer. Ambivalence, self-blame, and peer pressure were associated with a lower tendency to disclose one's USE. Although unwanted and illegal sexual experiences were less common in Hispanic females, feelings of self-blame and ambivalence regarding their USE were more frequent in comparison with White females. These findings have important investigative and therapeutic implications for professionals who encounter victims of sexual abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1457-1468
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1995


  • Abuse definitions
  • Sexual abuse
  • Victim reactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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