Developmental Timing of Childhood Physical and Sexual Maltreatment Predicts Adult Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

  • Jessica Jaye Capretto
  • Journal of Interpersonal Violence, April 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0886260517704963

What is it about?

Many survivors of physical and sexual maltreatment experience different physical and mental health problems in adulthood, including depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Many different factors can influence the experience of health problems in adulthood, such as the severity of maltreatment and the number of times a child is maltreated, and the type and timing of maltreatment. Results indicated that severity of child maltreatment and timing of child maltreatment are greater predictors for adult depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms than number of child maltreatment experiences. Compared to other developmental periods, early childhood sexual maltreatment experiences (5 years of age and below) and late childhood physical maltreatment experiences (13 years of age and above) were stronger predictors of adult depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms.

Why is it important?

Prior research focuses on generalized childhood adversities without accounting for how different details about the maltreatment may impact health problems in adulthood. The present shows that two maltreatment details, timing and type of child maltreatment, impact the development of depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms in adulthood.


Jessica Capretto

My research interests stem from my years of clinical experience working with survivors of childhood maltreatment. The wide range of health problems experienced by survivors of maltreatment and the lack of research to help practitioners understand this presentation fueled my desire to help contribute to this important research. It is my hope that this research is accessible to the public, practitioners, and researchers and that future research continues to build upon these findings.

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