Child and adolescent victims of violence are often exposed to more than
one kind of physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment. Both individually
and cumulatively, such victimizations have significant ramifications on mental
health. Yet little is known about the relationships in which these different
kinds of victimizations occur and how the relationship between the victim
and perpetrators may influence later mental health. This retrospective, selfreport
study of a nationally representative sample of 2,500 young adults
in Sweden examines associations between different types of victimization
(including poly-victimization), the victim’s relationship to the perpetrator,
and how these factors are related to current mental health. Results indicate
differential patterns of abuse based on the perpetrator; parents were most
likely to use physical aggression, whereas siblings typically perpetrated
property crimes and partners committed sexual assault. Peers were the
most likely perpetrator of both physical and verbal victimizations and also
most often committed poly-victimization by subjecting youth to multiple
forms of violence. While males were more likely to be victimized by peers,
females were more likely to be victimized by parents, siblings, and partners.
Significant positive relations were found for the amount of victimization by
peers and mental health problems among both males and females. In addition,
for females, higher amounts of youth victimization by parents and partners
related to higher levels of mental health problems during young adulthood.
Taken together, these results suggest that peer victimization presents the
greatest risk for males, whereas dysfunctional family relationships are most
detrimental to victimized females.
Sage Publications, 2017.