Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Betrayal and Revictimization: Preliminary Findings

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
© 2009 American Psychological Association 2009, Vol. 1, No. 3, 242–257

by Robyn L. Gobin and Jennifer J. Freyd University of Oregon

The link between childhood sexual abuse and subsequent sexual, emotional, and physical revictimization has been widely reported. The literature is limited, however, in its exploration of the extent to which the level of betrayal inherent in a given childhood traumatic experience affects the likelihood of experiencing similar revictimization in adolescence and adulthood. This study assessed revictimization within a betrayal trauma framework among a sample of 271 college students. As predicted, individuals who reported experiencing high-betrayal trauma at any time point (childhood, adolescence, or adulthood) were more likely to report experiences of trauma high in betrayal during adolescence and adulthood. Relative risk ratios suggest that those who experience childhood trauma high in betrayal are 4.31 times more likely to be victimized in adolescence and 5.44 times more likely to be victimized in adulthood. Logistic regression analyses identified rate of childhood high-betrayal traumas and high levels of traumatic symptoms as significant predictors of high-betrayal trauma victimization in adolescence. Finally, participants’ responses to an exploratory self-report measure examining the relationship among revictimization, awareness for interpersonal betrayals, and response to betrayals in interpersonal contexts were analyzed. Preliminary findings indicate that revictimization risk may be linked to inaccurate identification of specific intimate partner betrayals and the inability to engage in proper self-protection. Suggestions for future research and clinical implications are discussed.
The formation of healthy intimate relationships involves a willingness to trust others, a secure sense of self in relation to others, a good balance of reliance on and independence from the other, and the ability to appropriately regulate emotions in the face of conflict (Cole & Putnam, 1992). Adaptive social functioning in interpersonal relationships is based on a good conceptualization of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors as well as the ability to feel comfortable communicating personal boundaries and, when necessary, avoid or withdraw from relationships that may be emotionally, physically, or sexually harmful (Cole & Putnam, 1992; DePrince, 2005). The collection of harmful long-term consequences associated with childhood sexual abuse may render survivors vulnerable to involvement in unhealthy interpersonal relationships and, thus, vulnerable to later revictimization.

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