Reported prevalence rates of childhood sexual experiences among clients in a university counseling center
Stinson, Marilyn H
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The present study found statistical support for the importance of querying clients in regard to childhood sexual abuse experiences to encourage clients to disclose this history. The literature suggests that the method of querying about sexual behaviors makes a significant difference in the percentage who report sexual abuse incidents. The present study, which used students who presented for personal counseling at a university counseling center, found no difference in paper-and-pencil or face-to-face interviewing methods of asking clients about sexual abuse incidents. Chi-square procedures did find a significant difference between (a) no formal method of querying and (b) asking clients about childhood sexual abuse either with pencil and paper or at the end of an intake interview after rapport had been established. A series of one-way ANOVAs using self-esteem and depression (as measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory, respectively) as dependent measures found no significant differences in sexual abuse survivors on independent variables of (a) relationship to the perpetrator, (b) age at onset of the abuse, (c) frequency of the abuse, (d) duration of the abuse, (e) whether force was utilized, and (f) whether previous counseling was received. Other exploratory analyses also failed to find significant differences (with the exception that those survivors who had been abused by more than one perpetrator reported significantly lower levels of self-esteem than those who were abused by only one person).