Context Despite empirical links between sexual revictimization (ie, experiencing 2 or more sexual assaults) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to our knowledge, no epidemiological studies document the prevalence of sexual revictimization and PTSD. Establishing estimates is essential to determine the scope, public health impact, and psychiatric sequelae of sexual revictimization.
Objective To estimate the prevalence of sexual revictimization and PTSD among 3 national female samples (adolescent, college, and adult household probability).
Design Surveys were used to collect data from the National Women's Study–Replication (2006; college) as well as household probability samples from the National Survey of Adolescents–Replication (2005) and the National Women's Study–Replication (2006; household probability).
Setting Households and college campuses across the United States.
Participants One thousand seven hundred sixty-three adolescent girls, 2000 college women, and 3001 household-residing adult women.
Main Outcome Measures Behaviorally specific questions assessed unwanted sexual acts occurring over the life span owing to the use of force, threat of force, or incapacitation via drug or alcohol use. Posttraumatic stress disorder was assessed with a module validated against the criterion standard Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.
Results About 53% of victimized adolescents, 50% of victimized college women, and 58.8% of victimized household-residing women reported sexual revictimization. Current PTSD was reported by 20% of revictimized adolescents, 40% of revictimized college women, and 27.2% of revictimized household-residing women. Compared with nonvictims, odds of meeting past 6-month PTSD were 4.3 to 8.2 times higher for revictimized respondents and 2.4 to 3.5 times higher for single victims.
Conclusions Population prevalence estimates suggest that 769 000 adolescent girls, 625 000 college women, and 13.4 million women in US households reported sexual revictimization. Further, 154 000 sexually revictimized adolescents, 250 000 sexually revictimized college women, and 3.6 million sexually revictimized household women met criteria for past 6-month PTSD. Findings highlight the importance of screening for sexual revictimization and PTSD in pediatric, college, and primary care settings.