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Maladaptive Family Dysfunction and Parental Death as Risk Markers of Childhood Abuse in Women

  • Anna Plaza (a1), Anna Torres (a2), Carlos Ascaso (a3), Purificación Navarro (a4), Estel Gelabert (a5), Maria Luisa Imaz (a2), Rocío Martín-Santos (a2), Manuel Valdés (a2) and Lluïsa García-Esteve (a2)...


This study aims to examine the prevalence and characteristics of physical, emotional and sexual childhood abuse. It also examines whether other non-abuse types of childhood adversities related to maladaptive family functioning and separations during childhood can be used as markers for the presence of childhood abuse. Participants (N = 237) were women at 2–3 days after delivery that completed the Spanish-validated version of the Early Trauma Inventory Self Report (ETI-SR; Bremner, Bolus, & Mayer, 2007; Plaza et al., 2011), designed to assess the presence of childhood adversities. Results show that 29% of the women had experienced some type of childhood abuse, and 10% more than one type. Logistic regression analyses indicate that childhood parental death is a risk marker for childhood emotional abuse (OR: 3.77; 95% CI: 1.327–10.755; p <.013), childhood parental substance abuse is a risk marker for childhood sexual (OR: 3.72; 95% CI: 1.480–9.303; p < .005) and physical abuse (OR: 2.610; 95% CI: 1.000–6.812; p < .05) and that childhood family mental illness is a risk marker for childhood emotional (OR: 2.95; 95% CI: 1.175–7.441; p < .021) and sexual abuse (OR: 2.55; 95% CI: 1.168–5.580; p < .019). The high prevalence of childhood abuse indicates a need for assessment during the perinatal period. Screening for childhood family mental illness, parental substance abuse, and parental death - all identified risk factors for reporting childhood abuse - can help to identify women that should be assessed specifically regarding abuse.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Anna Plaza. Unitat de Psiquiatria Perinatal i de Recerca de Gènere (UPPiRG). Hospital Clínic Universitari de Barcelona-seu Maternitat. C/Sabino de Arana, 1. 08028. Barcelona (Spain). Phone: +34–932275600; Fax: +34–932275605. E-mail:


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