The impact of perceived child physical and sexual abuse history on Native American women's psychological well-being and AIDS risk


The impact of perceived child abuse history on 160 adult, Native American women's emotional well-being (i.e., depressive mood and anger) and AIDS risk was examined. How sense of mastery and social support might lead to women's greater resiliency was also investigated. Child physical-emotional abuse was found to have greater impact on depressive mood and anger and AIDS risk than did child sexual abuse. This finding was independent of current stress in women's lives. Women who were physically-emotionally abused as children had 5.14 times greater odds of having a sexually transmitted disease in their lifetimes than did women who experienced only marginal or no physical-emotional abuse. Moreover, consistent with the communal culture of Native Americans, social support was found to contribute more to resilience than sense of mastery did. Reasons for the greater predictive power of child physical-emotional abuse compared with child sexual abuse in a growing number of studies are discussed.

Publication Title

Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology