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Self-mutilating Behavior of Sexually Abused Female Adults in Turkey

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 13 Issue: 4 Dated: August 1998 Pages: 427-437
Isin Baral; Kaan Kora; Sahika Yuksel; Ufuk Sezgin
Date Published
August 1998
11 pages
Forty-two female adults who had experienced child sexual abuse before age 16, and were referred to a university outpatient clinic in Istanbul, Turkey, for treatment, were studied with respect to their self-mutilating behavior and the factors related to it.
The research noted that child abuse and especially child sexual abuse are largely ignored psychosocial problems in Turkey. Information and professional training to address these issues did not exist until recently. However, the number of women seeking mental health services and reporting a history of childhood sexual abuse has increased greatly in recent years. This study's participants were grouped into those with self-mutilating behavior (SMB) and those without such behavior. They were evaluated for their history of physical and sexual trauma, suicide attempts, eating habits, and SMB. The participants ranged in age from 16 to 37 years and had an average age of 22.5 years. One-third had displayed SMB. The most common behaviors were hitting body parts, biting, pulling hair, cutting, nail biting, and compulsive cosmetic surgeries. The participants had all been sexually abused by family members. Findings indicated that SMB and sexual abuse were closely related to eating disorders, particularly anorexia. In addition, SMB had a statistically significant relationship to suicide attempts. Findings suggested that SMB might be considered an important sign of the presence of child sexual abuse. Figures, tables, and 20 references (Author abstract modified)