Despite the advances in child maltreatment research, there is still the need for comprehensive information about how abuse affects a broad range of categories of young adult functioning, and the extent to which these vary by sex. We examined the associations between child physical abuse (PA) and sexual abuse (SA) and six areas of functioning (mental health, physical health, life satisfaction, illegal substance use, alcohol problems and daily smoking).
Data were obtained from the 1983 Ontario Child Health Study and follow-up in 2000/2001 (
n= 1893). Multilevel regression estimated the adjusted associations for PA (with severity) and SA with each of the outcomes. Estimates with an entire sample were presented with sex-by-abuse interactions to examine sex differences and then presented separately by sex. Results.
In the adjusted model, severe PA and SA were associated with impairment in mental health, and both forms of PA (severe and non-severe) and SA were associated with low life satisfaction. In addition, severe PA was associated with illegal substance use. Child abuse variables were not associated with poor physical health, alcohol problems or smoking. Although sex-stratified analyses revealed different patterns, there was no significant sex difference in the integrated sample.
This is among the first community-based studies to show a strong association between child PA and SA and low life satisfaction in young adults. The abuse effects were similar for both sexes.