Post-traumatic stress in sexually abused, physically abused, and nonabused children

Esther Deblinger, Susan V. McLeer, Marc S. Atkins, Diana Ralphe, Edna Foa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


This investigation compared the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms across sexually abused, physically abused, and nonabused psychiatrically hospitalized children matched for age, sex, and socioeconomic status. Among the sexually abused children, 20.7% met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder compared with 6.9% of the physically abused and 10.3% of the nonabused children. Although these overall rates were not significantly different across groups, they were sufficiently high to reinforce the need for further study of post-traumatic stress in childhood. Further, significant symptom rate differences across groups were found with respect to specific post-traumatic stress symptoms. Specifically, sexually abused children exhibited significantly higher rates of inappropriate sexual behaviors than either the physically abused or nonabused children. In addition, both the sexually abused and physically abused groups showed a tendency to exhibit more avoidant/dissociative symptoms as compared to the nonabused children. Results are discussed in terms of their clinical and research implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-408
Number of pages6
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-traumatic stress in sexually abused, physically abused, and nonabused children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this