The impact of child abuse on dissociative symptoms: A study of incarcerated women

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, Laura E. Bedard, Kerensa Pate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


One-hundred and ninety-two incarcerated women who were participating in a trauma and abuse psychoeducation program were evaluated for childhood abuse, maltreatment and current dissociative symptoms. The link between childhood abuse and adult criminal behavior has been well studied but the mental health status of adult female inmates and the possible implications for their treatment and behavior is the next step. The participants reported high levels of childhood abuse, 68% reported molestation, 72% rape, 26% emotional abuse, 51% physical abuse. Almost half of the participants reported a clinically significant level of dissociative symptoms. The dissociative group was found to have higher rates of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. They were younger and had shorter sentences. A logistic regression model was developed with only physical abuse being a predictor of clinically significant dissociative symptoms. Results are discussed in terms of how the high level of dissociative symptoms may impact future delinquency and corrections staff and possible future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-26
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


  • Child abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Female criminals
  • Incarceration
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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