Unique and combined contributions of multiple child abuse types and abuse severity to adult trauma symptomatology

John C. Clemmons, Kate Walsh, David DiLillo, Terri L. Messman-Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Studies have documented the co-occurrence and cumulative impact of multiple types of child maltreatment on later psychosocial difficulties. Other research suggests that child abuse characteristics indicative of severity may also increase risk of later adjustment problems. However, little effort has been made to examine the co-occurrence of both multiple types of maltreatment and abuse severity within a single study. The present investigation examines self-reported child maltreatment and adult functioning in a geographically diverse sample of 1,396 undergraduate students. Results indicate that experiencing multiple types of maltreatment is positively associated with more severe abuse. Although increased maltreatment types and more severe abuse are each associated with greater trauma symptomatology, abuse severity is the stronger of the two predictors. Finally, number of maltreatment types and severity of maltreatment interact to predict greater levels of trauma symptomatology. These results highlight the importance of considering both co-occurring abuse types and severity in research and clinical work with adult victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-181
Number of pages10
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Child abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Long-term effects
  • Multiple abuse
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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