Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Adult child sexual abuse victims--Iowa; Adult child sexual abuse victims; Iowa;


The purpose of this study was to describe certain food and alcohol related behaviors and selected psychosocial characteristics of adult female survivors of child sexual abuse. Respondents answered items regarding eating behaviors, alcohol use, psychosocial characteristics, and demographic information. Results of this study are based on the responses to 45 surveys gathered from support groups located throughout Eastern Iowa.

The offenders with the highest reported percentages included in the survey were fathers, strangers, male cousins, stepfathers, brothers, and uncles. Sexual abuse was found to occur most often between the age ranges of 6-10 and 11-15.

The demographic information regarding relationship status showed that nearly half of the respondents reported never being married. The number of respondents that reported a relationship status of married was approximately equal to the number of respondents who reported being separated or divorced. Close to 10% of respondents reported being divorced and remarried.

Several forms of revictimization in adult relationships were reported. Almost all respondents reported emotional revictimization, over three-fourths reported sexual revictimization, and three-fifths reported physical revictimization.

In the section regarding alcohol use very few respondents reported abuse of alcohol on a regular basis. over half of all respondents reported never as a response to all of the questions regarding the use of alcohol. It should be noted that five of the respondents reported they were recovering alcoholics, and their responses would have been very different had they not received previous treatment for their alcohol addiction.

several issues were found to be relevant in the section regarding psychosocial characteristics. The respondents reported that they believed most people could never be trusted (11.1%), or seldom be trusted (51.1%). None of the respondents reported that they always felt in control of things. The majority of respondents reported that they have trouble expressing emotions to others. Respondents also reported feeling that they must do thing perfectly or not at all. Several individuals reported a need to keep individuals at a certain distance emotionally.

Problematic eating behaviors were also reported by several respondents. Close to half of the respondents reported that they never felt satisfied with the shape of their body. Several reported always feeling preoccupied with the desire to be thinner, and most reported that they felt their weight affects the way they live their lives. It was also alarming to realize that one in four individuals vomit and approximately one in three report using laxatives as an occasional form of controlling their weight.

The latent effects of childhood sexual abuse have several ramifications. These range form the importance of prevention and education for children to the proper education and treatment of adults. The latent effects of childhood sexual abuse described in this study reflect a great relevance to health educators and society in general. Awareness of childhood sexual abuse has been raised in recent years but education and prevention tactics need to be continued and improved upon. Sexual abuse is a recent issue which is just beginning to be dealt with by health educators and other professionals. Further study is needed in all areas of childhood sexual abuse including prevention, intervention, and treatment.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Jane E. Richards

Second Advisor

Dennis Cryer

Third Advisor

Susan J. Koch


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Date Original


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