Personality traits of women with a history of childhood sexual abuse

Nancy L. Talbot, Paul R. Duberstein, Deborah A. King, Christopher Cox, Donna E. Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This study examined relationships between specific dimensions of childhood sexual abuse and personality traits in adulthood. Study participants were 74 hospitalized female psychiatric patients with a self- reported history of childhood sexual abuse. Characteristics of childhood sexual abuse were obtained from a structured life-events interview. Personality was measured with the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), which yields scores on neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. We hypothesized that parental abuse, intercourse, and the combination of these two childhood sexual abuse characteristics would be associated with personality traits. Supporting this hypothesis, women who were abused by a parent had lower scores on openness to experience than women who were abused by someone else. Patients whose abuse history included both parental abuse and intercourse had very low extraversion scores. Our findings suggest that there are associations between personality traits and childhood sexual abuse characteristics in psychiatric patients. Specifically, women who experienced intercourse by a parent may be more introverted and less open to experience than women whose sexual abuse history does not include parental incest. (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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