HEB AUG 2018: Sexual Violence Victimization Among Youth Presenting to an Urban Emergency Department: The Role of Violence Exposure in Predicting Risk


Sexual violence (SV) is a widespread public health problem among adolescents and emerging adults with significant short and long-term consequences. Young people living in urban, disadvantaged communities exposed to high rates of violence may be especially at risk for SV victimization. Understanding interconnections between different forms of violence is critical to reducing SV risk among youth.

Participants were youth (N = 599) ages 14 to 24 years (M = 20.05, SD = 2.42) presenting to an urban emergency department with a Level 1 trauma designation as part of a prospective cohort study and followed up for 24 months. We used logistic regression to examine the probability of reporting SV during the 24-month follow-up based on baseline reports of community and peer violence exposure, accounting for previous SV victimization, substance use, and sociodemographic characteristics. Among youth presenting to an urban emergency department, 22% of youth not seeking care for a sexual assault reported any lifetime SV (forced and/or substance-induced sexual intercourse) at baseline.

During the 24-month follow-up, 12% reported SV victimization. We found high community violence exposure (odds ratio [OR] = 2.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.01, 8.68]) and peer violence exposure (OR = 1.58, 95% CI [1.19, 2.08]) were associated with increased odds of reporting SV during follow-up in addition to previous SV victimization (OR = 2.71, 95% CI [1.45, 5.09]). Sex, age, parent education, and alcohol or other drug use at baseline were not associated with odds of SV during follow-up. Investigating interconnections between SV victimization and other forms of violence across socioecological levels provides an opportunity to advance SV research and identify promising avenues for prevention based on other violence prevention research. Future strategies for SV prevention that incorporate community and peer components as well as SV specific content may help reduce SV victimization among youth living in urban, disadvantaged communities.



adolescence, African American, alcohol and substance abuse, race/ethnicity, social inequalities, violent behavior and prevention

Continuing Education

2.0 CHES, 2.0 CPH, 2.0 Entry-level CECH
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