The Development of a Sexual Abuse Severity Score: Characteristics of Childhood Sexual Abuse Associated with Trauma Symptomatology, Somatization and Alcohol Abuse

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Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is common and is associated with both mental and physical health problems in adulthood. Using data from an age and sex-stratified population survey of Olmsted County, MN residents (n=610), we developed a sexual abuse severity score (SASS). The abuse characteristics of 156 CSA respondents were associated with self-reported trauma, somatization, and alcohol use. Characteristics included: age of first sexual abuse, more than one perpetrator, degree of coercion, severity of abuse (i.e. attempted intercourse is more severe than fondling), and the number of occurrences. This is one of the few reports to develop a risk summary that quantifies the severity of childhood sexual abuse.