Journal of Student Nursing Research


Objective: This paper seeks to answer the questions: "Does a history of sexual abuse predict risky sexual behavior for females? If so, by what mechanisms does this correlation occur?"

Method: A literature review was conducted to identify research articles that investigated the correlation between sexual abuse and sexual behavior. Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL), Medline and PsychInfo databases were searched. Medline and CINAHL databases were searched using the terms "sexual abuse" and "risky sexual behaviors." PsychInfo was searched using the terms "sexual abuse," "risky sexual behaviors," and "risk taking behaviors." Studies examined multiple or single incidents of abuse and both childhood and adult victimization. Only abstracts published in English from 1997 and later were considered. Ultimately, 12 articles were reviewed and discussed.

Results: There is a correlation between child and adolescent sexual abuse and risky sexual behaviors but the mechanisms by which this correlation exists are not fully understood. The mechanisms may be dependent on the interplay of pre-victimization, victimization, and post-victimization factors.

Implications: This review indicates that it is important to conduct more prospective studies with various samples and sample sizes in order to clarify the mechanisms by which a victim of sexual abuse is at an increased risk for becoming involved in risky sexual behaviors.