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Childhood and adult sexual abuse: Relationships with alcohol and other psychoactive drug use

Plant, Moira; Miller, Patrick; Plant, Martin


Moira Plant

Patrick Miller

Martin Plant


Questions concerning sexual abuse before and after the age of 16 years were included in a general population survey of a representative sample of 1052 UK women and 975 UK men. A total of 12.5% of women reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse before the age of 16 years. The corresponding figures for men in this category were 11.7%. After the age of 16, the figure for women remained at this level. However, the proportion of men reporting these traumatic experiences dropped to 3.2%. Sexual abuse both pre and post age 16 was associated with being single or cohabiting, with higher levels of cigarette-smoking, alcohol consumption, experience of alcohol-related problems and use of illicit drugs. The relationship between drinking and other forms of psychoactive drug use and sexual abuse is complex. Some possible explanations for this connection and its therapeutic and practical implications are discussed. © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Plant, M., Miller, P., & Plant, M. (2004). Childhood and adult sexual abuse: Relationships with alcohol and other psychoactive drug use. Child Abuse Review, 13(3), 200-214.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2004
Journal Child Abuse Review
Print ISSN 0952-9136
Electronic ISSN 1099-0852
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 3
Pages 200-214
Keywords alcohol, drugs, child sexual abuse, GENACIS
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This article draws upon UK survey findings from GENACIS (Gender, Alcohol and Culture: an International Study), which is carried out in over 30 countries. The UK survey was conducted by the authors and covered 2,027 people. Child Abuse Review was chosen because of the need to promote a debate from the fact that 12.5% of women and 11.7% of men stated that they had been sexually abused before the age of sixteen years. Policy and practice implications are stressed since such youthful abuse was associated with subsequent addictive or problematic behaviours. Contribution 50%.

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