Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

McCanne, Thomas R.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Child abuse; Child sexual abuse; Rape; Sex crimes; Post-traumatic stress disorder


Numerous studies have investigated the relationships between child physical abuse (CPA), child sexual abuse (CSA), and combined child physical and child sexual abuse (CCA) on adult sexual victimization (ASA), adult physical victimization (APA), combined adult physical and sexual victimization (ACA) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study was conducted with 3643 female undergraduates at Northern Illinois University who had completed the materials from 1995 to 2001. Conservative definitions for CSA, CPA, CCA, ASA, APA, and ACA reduced the sample to 2121 participants. Eight hypotheses were proposed to investigate the relationships described above. In general, the results were consistent with previous research, and indicated that women with a history of CCA had the worst adult outcomes, women with no history of childhood abuse had the best outcomes, and women in the CPA and CSA groups had adult outcomes that were intermediate between the CCA and NA groups. Women who reported CCA that included sexual contact and CCA that included attempted rape had the highest levels of adult sexual victimization. Also, within the CSA group, but not the CCA group, as the severity of the child abuse experiences increased so did the frequency of completed adult rape. Additional exploratory regression analyses were also conducted using a unique categorization of abuse severity, both in childhood and adulthood. Using this unique categorization, all 3643 participants were included in the exploratory analyses. The exploratory analyses indicated that CPA and CSA both significantly predicted PTSD-Q scores, ASA severity scores, and completed adult rape, but only CPA significantly predicted APA severity. However, in the most predictive model, less than six percent of the variance in adult outcomes was explained by CPA and CSA. While the size of the sample used for this study and the rigorousness of the definitions of the independent and dependent variables are two of its greatest strengths, the sample consists of relatively young, college students. This contributes to limited generalizabilty and may have influenced the results. Suggestions for future research are offered to address the limitations of this study.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [139]-146).


vi, 174 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type