Date of Award:

1999

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

During 1995, over 20,000 adolescents completed the in-home interview for The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). One question asked females if they had ever been forced to have sexual intercourse (FSI). In addition, they were asked about other sexual behavior, their psychological well-being, and behavior problems. The present study examines the associations between FSI and 26 outcome variables, comparing adolescent females who reported FSI with females who reported voluntary intercourse, and with females who reported no intercourse. In addition, the large Add Health sample allowed comparisons between five race/ethnicity groups and four adolescent groups broken down by age.

Psychological and emotional correlates of sexual abuse have been widely documented, but until now, studies of sexual abuse had largely consisted of small samples of mostly White females with limited generalizability. The Add Health sample was large enough to go beyond psychopathology to include risky sexual behavior, and behavior problems. The Add Health sample is representative of the overall population of adolescents in the United States during the mid 1990s.

Results showed that females forced to have intercourse have earlier and more frequent risky sexual behavior, more severe symptoms of psychopathology, and were much more likely to report behavior problems such as smoking, drinking, and drug use (a finding that has been largely unreported) than were females who reported no intercourse. Drug use was the variable on which females who reported forced intercourse and those who reported no intercourse differed most. Females who reported FSI were five times more likely to have reported illicit drug use than were females who reported no intercourse. Asian and White females who reported forced intercourse had the greatest vulnerability for negative outcomes, while African American females who reported forced intercourse had the greatest resilience against negative outcomes. Among female adolescents who reported forced intercourse, the youngest (ages 12, 13, and 14 years) were the most vulnerable to experience severe psychopathology and to report cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol.

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