Investigating the Relations between Sexual Victimization, Substance Misuse, and Exposure to Community Violence


Child sexual abuse (CSA) and substance misuse are established risk factors for adult sexual assault (ASA). Still, study of additional factors may enhance our understanding of ASA. Community violence (CV) exposure is a potential risk factor for ASA and has previously been tied to substance misuse. It is unclear if CV is related to sexual victimization, as well as if CV influences the association between CSA and ASA. This study aimed to (1) replicate the relations between victimization and substance misuse; (2) determine if CV is linked to CSA/ASA; and (3) investigate whether substance misuse and/or CV moderate the relation between CSA/ASA. This study included 525 students (Mage = 20.04, SD = 1.71; 82.1% female; 57.7% White). CSA and substance misuse were both related to ASA (b = .18; b = .02, respectively), as were CSA and CV (b = .15; b = .002, respectively). Unexpectedly, there were no significant interactions. Though substance misuse and CV were related to sexual victimization, these factors may not help explain this relationship. Longitudinal work is needed to more precisely examine the temporality of these variables, as there are implications based on whether these risk factors are occurring before, after, or concurrently with victimization.

Publication Title

Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma