Investigates common characteristics of girls who have experienced various kinds of sexual contact with adults, using a large sample from original Kinsey study.
Some retrospective evaluations of the long-term effects of sexual abuse have been attempted with fairly large nonclinical populations, but the implication of these studies is widely contested. Gagnon (1965), for example, looked at the Kinsey data on 333 women who had been childhood victims of sex offenses, most of which had never been reported. He found that about 75% of women had "no apparent adult maladjustment." Nine to 12% had minor complaints "which incapacitated them from playing an adequate social and occupational role in the community." Another 4% to 7% showed "major psychological or other disturbance."
Although Gagnon concluded that this was a "small amount of negative outcome," many would challenge his conclusion based on these data. First, Gagnon appears to have begun his investigation with the exception that there would be nearly universal effects, so that findings of only 25% with impairment, which might otherwise to be a significant section, could be dismissed as a "small amount". It is not clear that 25% is either small or large. Second, Gagnon appeared to be evaluating only the grossest and most readily apparent forms of adult "maladjustment" (his criteria are described only vaguely). Effects that might cause suffering and unhappiness but which did not "interfere with social role performance or cause or cause major psychological disturbance" were not counted as impairment. This seem an important insensitivity in his outcome measure. Most important, Gagnon's study lacked a control group, so one does not really know how the victimized women fared with respect to their nonvictimized peers.