A new study published in Lancet Psychiatry finds that experiencing sexual violence in mid-adolescence is associated with a heightened risk of self-harm, attempted suicide, and psychological distress.
Francesca Bentivegna and Praveetha Patalay estimate that without instances of sexual violence, boys in their cohort would experience 3.7% – 10.5% fewer adverse mental health outcomes compared to 14% – 18.7% for girls. This research in the UK joins many similar studies indicating that a gender gap exists in internalizing mental health conditions and associating sexual violence with adverse mental health outcomes. They write:
“In our sample of individuals from the UK Millennium Cohort Study who reported experiencing sexual violence in the 12 months before age 17 years reported worse mental health outcomes at age 17 years than adolescents who did not. These effects persisted even after accounting for previous depressive symptoms and self-harm, and a wide range of relevant confounders, and were robust to multiple methodological approaches and sensitivity checks.”