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Open Access Research article

Strong association between earlier abuse and revictimization in youth

Helena Blom12*, Ulf Högberg3, Niclas Olofsson45 and Ingela Danielsson14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sundsvall Hospital, Sundsvall, Sweden

3 Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Uppsala University, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

4 Department of Research and Development, Västernorrland County Council, Sundsvall, Sweden

5 Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine, Social Medicine and Public Health Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:715  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-715

Published: 14 July 2014



Violence victimization among youth is recognized as a public health problem. The objective was to analyze the risk pattern of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse during the past 12 months by gender, sociodemographic factors, health risk behaviors, and exposure to abuse before the age of 15, among young men and women attending youth health centers in Sweden.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a nationally representative sample of youth health centers. A total of 2,250 young women and 920 young men aged 15–23 completed a self-administered questionnaire. Odds ratios (OR) and adjusted odds ratios (AOR) with 95% CI were calculated.


A consistent and strong association was noted between exposure to all types of violence during the past year and victimization before the age of 15 for all types of violence for both women and men. The only exceptions were childhood sexual victimization and sexual violence during the past year for men. Younger age was associated with all violence exposure for the women and with emotional violence for the men. For the women, drug use was associated with all types of violence, while the association with hazardous alcohol use and not living with parents was restricted to physical and sexual violence exposure, present smoking was restricted to emotional and physical violence exposure, and partnership and living in urban areas were restricted to sexual violence. For men, not being partnered, hazardous alcohol consumption, and drug use meant increased risk for physical violence, while smoking and living in urban areas were associated with sexual violence. After adjustment, immigration had no association with violence exposure.


Violence victimization in young men and women is often not a single experience. Findings underline the importance of early interventions among previously abused youth.

Youth; Adolescents; Abuse; Violence; Cross-sectional study; Sociodemographics; Risk factors; Revictimization