Experience of sexual violence and satisfaction with life: a 20-year prospective cohort study

Jenna Marie Strizzi*, Erik Lykke Mortensen, Emilie Rune Hegelund, Cathrine Lawaetz Wimmelmann, Anna Paldam Folker, Trine Flensborg-Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This Danish prospective cohort study assessed associations between exposure to any kind of sexual violence (SV), exposure to labelled SV (self-labelled as rape, sexual abuse, or incest), and satisfaction with life (SWL) in young adulthood (approximately 32 years) (N = 688) and at midlife (up-to-20 years later) (n = 230). Data are from the Prenatal Development Project (a subsample of the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort). Nearly 20% of participants reported experiencing some kind of SV before young adulthood. Exposure to any kind of SV before young adulthood was not significantly associated with the initial SWL assessment or with SWL at the up to 20-year follow-up. However, exposure to SV participants labelled as rape, incest, and/or serious sexual abuse was significantly associated with lower SWL during young adulthood but not at the midlife follow-up. These results could indicate that exposure to SV may not severely influence SWL over the long term. Practice Impact Statement The present research findings indicate that exposure to sexual violence before age 35, that the victim/survivor has labelled as rape, incest, and/or serious sexual abuse can negatively affect satisfaction with life during young adulthood. However, for many these associations were were not enduring. This finding suggests resilience among those exposed to sexual violence, and that exposure to sexual violence does not necessarily imply diminished life satisfaction across the life course.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sexual Aggression
Volume28
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)316-330
ISSN1355-2600
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present study was supported by a grant to T.F-M. from the IMK Almene Fond. In addition, the study was supported by grants no. HD-17655 and no. HD-20263 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to June Reinisch, grant number DA-05056 from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to June Reinisch, grant number 9700093 to E.L.M. from the Danish Research Council and grant number 1400/2-4-1997¨to E.L.M. from the Danish National Board of Health. We acknowledge the crucial role of A. L. Willumsen and B. Zachau-Christiansen in the establishment of the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort and thank the Steering Committee for permission to conduct this study. The Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank was funded by a generous grant from the VELUX FOUNDATION. This manuscript was prepared in collaboration with members of the CAMB steering committee. The list of the CAMB steering committee and those responsible for the collection of historical data can be found at http://www.camb.ku.dk/ .

Keywords

  • Child sexual abuse
  • cohort study
  • rape
  • satisfaction with life

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