Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Family Planning Perspectives
Volume 29, Number 5, September/October 1997

Sexual Abuse History and Number of Sex Partners Among Female Adolescents

By Tom Luster and Stephen A. Small

A survey completed in 1996 of 10,868 adolescent females from one Midwestern state indicates that 10% had experienced sexual abuse by an adult or by someone older than themselves—9% in the past and 1% in an ongoing situation. Past and current victims of sexual abuse had had more sexual partners during the past year (2.3 and 1.2, respectively) than their peers who had never been sexually abused (0.5). Regardless of sexual abuse history, teenagers whose activities were closely monitored by their parents, who received high levels of parental support and whose parents disapproved of teenagers having sex had fewer sexual partners than other adolescents. Respondents who had experienced physical abuse in addition to sexual abuse were at further increased risk of having had multiple sexual partners. Overall, sexually abused adolescents with a supportive family had fewer recent partners than those from a less supportive family environment; family context had less influence on number of partners among respondents with no history of sexual abuse.

(Family Planning Perspectives, 29:204-211, 1997)

Full text in PDF