Does the study of victimization revictimize the victims?

Edward A. Walker, Elana Newman, Mary Koss, David Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Although the number of questionnaire surveys examining the sequelae of prior sexual and physical victimization has increased over the last decade, little attention has been given to understanding the impact of such studies on participants. As part of a larger study of long-term effects of prior sexual and physical victimization, 500 randomly selected women in an HMO received a comprehensive questionnaire including multiple symptomatic distress measures and several items inquiring into previous history of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and neglect. They also completed a short rating scale asking about their reactions to completing the questionnaire. Despite the sensitive content, the women who participated generally found the experience to be a positive one. Only a small number of women were more upset than they had anticipated, but the vast majority felt they would have completed the survey even if they had known in advance how they would feel. The subset of women who did express distress was significantly different from the group that did not, with respect to other measures of symptomatic distress and trauma exposure. These data suggest that surveys that inquire into prior episodes of childhood victimization are generally well tolerated by women who participate, and that, although a small number may be disturbed by these investigations, in general, adverse reactions may be less common than previously anticipated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-410
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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