The relationship between child maltreatment and exposure to traumatic events during later adolescence and young adulthood

Ask Elklit, Katie Schouwenaars



Objective: The present study investigated the relationship between different types of childhood maltreatment (emotional abuse, sexual abuse, multiple abuse types, and no abuse) and the occurrence of later traumatic events during later adolescence and young adulthood.
Method: Data were collected from a Danish national study conducted by The Danish National Centre for Social Research in 2008 and 2009. A sample of 4718 young adults who were 24 years old was randomly selected using the total birth cohort of children born in 1984. A structured interview was conducted during which participants were asked about a range of traumatic and abusive experiences.
Results: A response rate of 63% was achieved for a total sample size of 2980. Chi-squared analyses revealed significant relationships between all child maltreatment groups and direct exposure to 10 of the 13 traumatic events; there were also significant relationships between all child maltreatment groups and indirect exposure to 12 of the 13 traumatic events.
Conclusion: The results showed that childhood maltreatment was associated with increased risk of exposure to traumatic events, both directly and indirectly, during adolescence and young adulthood. The findings of this study suggest there is an increased risk of being exposed to both direct and indirect traumas during later adolescence and young adulthood after any form of child maltreatment.


abuse typologies; adolescence; child maltreatment; exposure; traumatic events; young adults

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ISSN 2245-8875

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