In this longitudinal study, we investigated whether violence-related shame and guilt were associated with revictimization.
Method: Young adults (age = 17–35) exposed to childhood violence (n = 505) were selected from a (Country) population study of 6,589 persons (Wave 1), and reinterviewed by telephone 12–18 months later (Wave 2). Wave 1 measures included shame, guilt, social support, posttraumatic stress, and binge drinking frequency, as well as childhood violence. Logistic regression was used to estimate associations between Wave 1 risk factors and Wave 2 revictimization (physical or sexual violence, or controlling partner behavior).
Results: In total, 31.5% (n = 159) had been revictimized during the period between Wave 1 and 2. Of these, 12.9% (n = 65) had experienced sexual assault, 22% (n = 111) had experienced physical assault and 7.1% (n = 36) had experienced controlling behavior from partner. Both shame and guilt were associated with revictimization, and withstood adjustment for other potentially important risk factors. In mutually adjusted models, guilt was no longer significant, leaving shame and binge drinking frequency as the only factors uniquely associated with revictimization.
Conclusions: Violence-prevention aimed at victims of childhood violence should be a goal for practitioners and policymakers. This could be achieved by targeting shame, both on both on the individual level (clinical settings) and the societal level (changing the stigma of violence).