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Self-Reported Effects 
Badgley et al.'s (1984) Canadian sample 
Baker and Duncan's (1985) British sample  
Laumann et at.'s (1994) U.S. sample 
Synthesis of the three samples 
[López et al. (1995)] 

Measures of Psychological and Sexual Adjustment 
Bigler's (1992) U.S. sample 
Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor's (1995) U.S. sample 
Laumann et al.'s (1994) U.S. sample 
López et al.'s (1995) Spanish sample 
Los Angeles Times
telephone survey of a U.S. sample 
Synthesis of adjustment measures in the five samples 

Self-Reported Effects 

Badgley et al.'s (1984) Canadian sample. 

Of the 307 men who reported an unwanted sexual experience, 

3.9% said they had been physically injured, and 

6.8% said they had been emotionally or psychologically harmed at the time by the first such incident. 

For the 538 women who reported an unwanted sexual experience, these figures for physical injury and psychological or emotional injury were 

19.9% and 

24%, respectively. 

About two thirds of both male and female respondents who reported unwanted sexual experiences were younger than age 18 when the first such experience occurred. 

Thus, if we assume that self-perceived harm was most likely to occur with younger persons, an upper boundary of self-reported psychological or emotional harm at the time resulting from CSA for persons less than 18 would be 

10% for males and 

36% for females. 


An analysis of sex differences revealed that men reported 

significantly fewer physical injuries than did women, z = 6.43, p < .001, two-tailed, and

significantly less emotional or psychological harm than did women, z = 6.29, p < .001, two-tailed. 

The effect sizes for sex differences for these two indices of harm were small to medium, r = .22 in both cases.

Baker and Duncan's (1985) British sample

For the 79 males with a history of CSA who responded to the question concerning self-perceived effects of their CSA experience, the following distribution resulted: 

4% said their experience caused permanent damage; 

33% said it was harmful at the time, but with no lasting effects; 

57% said it had no effect; and 

6% said it improved the quality of their life.


 The distribution for the 119 females with a history of CSA who responded to this question was the following: 

13% reported permanent damage; 

51% said it was harmful at the time, but with no lasting effects; 

34% said it had no effect; and 

2% said it improved the quality of their life. 


These distributions show that reports of permanent harm were far from pervasive (4% of males and 13% of females), whereas reports of no negative effects at all were common (63% of males and 36% of females). 

We contrasted the proportion of male versus female respondents who reported either temporary or permanent harm and found that females perceived significantly greater harm from these experiences than males, z = 3.73, p < .001, two-tailed. The effect size for this sex difference was medium, r = .26. 

Baker and Duncan found that girls on average experienced CSA at a younger age (10.74 years) than boys (12.03 years) and that they were three to four times more likely to experience incest than boys. 
Bringing together these situational differences in CSA with the differences in reported harm between the genders, Baker and Duncan concluded that 

"reports of harmful outcome were associated more with close family relationships, a younger age at the time of first abuse and being female" (p. 465).

Laumann et at.'s (1994) U.S. sample

In Laumann et al.'s (1994) survey of Americans, respondents who acknowledged being sexually touched by an older person when they were prepubescent were asked whether this experience had affected their lives since it happened.

Laumann et al. found that "[t]here was a striking difference between the reports of women and men" (p. 343).

Of the 273 sexually touched women who answered this question, 70% said the experience had affected them.

Of the 134 sexually touched men who responded to this item, 45% said the experience had affected them.


Reports of effects were nearly all negative. A significantly greater proportion of women than men reported effects, z = 4.91, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .24.

Synthesis of the three samples

Results of the three studies providing data on self-reported effects are summarized in Table 2.

The percentage of males and females reporting harm was considerably lower in the Canadian study than in the U.S. or British studies. These lower percentages may be attributable to several factors.

As discussed previously, the Canadian percentages apply to persons older, as well as younger, than 18. Even with adjusted percentages (10% for males and 36% for females), the Canadian percentages still fall far below those of the other two studies.
This remaining difference may be attributable to the fact that respondents in the Canadian study were asked only about harm at the time and for the first such experience. Broadening the time frame and the number of experiences would likely have increased the percentages, bringing them closer to those obtained in the other two studies.

Averaging the percentages of self-reported harm across the three studies is not straightforward because of differences in ages included for CSA and because of differences in time frames for perceived effects.

Using only the British and U.S. studies suggests that a minority of males (42%) and a majority of females (68%) perceive harm from CSA at some point after it occurs.
The Baker and Duncan (1985) data suggest that, of those who report harm, only a small portion perceive themselves to be seriously harmed to the extent that they perceive lasting effects.

These results imply that, in the population of individuals who have experienced CSA, perceived harm is not pervasive, particularly for males. Moreover, when harm is perceived, these data suggest that, although it may be perceived as serious (i.e., causing lasting damage) for some individuals, it is not typically perceived this way by individuals who perceive harm.

We conducted a meta-analysis of the effect sizes contrasting the N = 1,450 males and females in the three studies who reported CSA experiences to determine an overall assessment of the gender difference.
This analysis revealed that the effect sizes were homogeneous, X2(2) = .34, p > .80.
Combining the effect sizes produced a small to medium unbiased effect size estimate, ru = .23, which was significantly different from zero, z = 7.13, p < .001, two-tailed. The 95% confidence interval was from r = .18 to .28.
These results imply that, in the population of persons who experience sexual encounters classified as CSA, males on average perceive it to be less negative, or conversely more neutral or positive, than females do.

Additional support for the conclusion that males and females experience CSA differently was provided by López et al. (1995) in their national study conducted in Spain.
These researchers provided emotional reaction data regarding how respondents felt at the time of their CSA experiences.

These data are not useful for inferring effects for reasons discussed previously (e.g., pleasure and fear are not mutually exclusive; reactions do not necessarily lead to effects).
Nevertheless, they are useful for shedding more light on sex differences in how CSA is experienced.
Moreover, they are suggestive of effects, because reactions have been shown to be related to effects (Long & Jackson, 1993). Although males and females responded similarly in reactions of shame and guilt, a significantly smaller proportion of males than females experienced

fear        (45% vs. 69%, z = 4.39, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .24),

disgust  (3% vs. 70%, z = 12.15, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .66),

distrust (0% vs. 77%. z = 13.87, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .76),

feelings of isolation or marginalization
               (4% vs. 19%, z = 4.00, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .22),

hostile or aggressive feelings toward the older person
               (41% vs. 67%, z = 4.71, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .26), and

anxiety  (29% vs. 48%, z = 3.48,p <; .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .19).

Moreover, a significantly greater proportion of males experienced

pleasure and satisfaction than females
               (27% vs. 10%, z = 4.09, p < .001, two-tailed, effect size r = .22).


The mean effect size for all nine reactions, including shame (r = .02) and guilt (r = -.05), was r = .31, which is consistent with sex differences on self-reported effects.

The self-reported effects data and the reaction data from four national samples thus consistently indicate that males and females do not respond to experiences classified as CSA equivalently. 

Measures of Psychological and Sexual Adjustment

Bigler's (1992) U.S. sample

In Bigler's (1992) mail survey, 314 respondents (140 men and 174 women) provided sufficient data to be retained for analysis. The SA and control males did not differ in sexual self-esteem (effect size r = -.01), but SA and control females did, with a small effect size (r = .10). 
Bigler speculated that this gender difference may have been because females and males are socialized differently and because females (56%! were more likely than males (30%) to have been forced or coerced into their CSA experience in this sample. 

Both SA males and females showed more sexual dysfunction than did control respondents, with effect sizes that were small to small-medium (r = .15 for males and r = .24 for females). 
The study-level effect sizes, based on averaging the two effect sizes for male, and females separately using Fisher 2 transformations, were r = .07 for males and r = .17 for females.

Big}er provided additional information on the distributions of SA males and females for sexual

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dysfunction. Distributions were slightly positively skewed, with means and medians within the non problematic range. 
The sexual dysfunction scale was scored from 1 to 9, where scores of 5 and higher indicated sexual difficulty. Mean scores were 3.63 for SA males and 3.25 for SA females. 

Bigler used the Impact of Event Scale to assess the level of trauma associated with CSA; the trauma scale runs from 15 (no trauma) to 60 (extreme trauma). 
Bigler found that the distributions for both males and females with CSA experiences were strongly positively skewed, with means close to the non-traumatic end of the scale (20 for males and 21 for females) and medians at the non-traumatic end (15 for males and 16 for females). These results indicate a high concentration of SA individuals with non-traumatic reactions and a low concentration of SA individuals with traumatic reactions.

Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor's (1995) U.S. sample

Based on telephone interviews with children and adolescents 10 to 16 years of age, Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor (1995) found that respondents who reported unwanted sexual experiences with peers or older persons showed poorer adjustment compared to controls in all four areas measured: 

PI'SD-related symptomatology, 


lifetime depression, and 

trouble with teachers. 


Although Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor reported adjusted means from an ANCOVA [*ANalysis of CO-VAriance], in which a number of background factors Were statistically held constant, we used the unadjusted means to compute effect sizes. We did this because effect sizes from all other studies examined in the current review were based on unadjusted means. 

For boys, the effect sizes for the four measures just listed were, respectively, r = .12, .09, .16, and .11, with a study-level effect size of r = .12. 

For girls, the effect sizes were, respectively, r = .26, .13, .20, and .20, with a study-level effect size of r = .20. 

All these results were statistically significant and remained so after statistical control. The background factors held constant were 

child's age, 

whether child lived with both parents, 

highest level of education by child's head of household, 

size of town child lived in, 

child's race, and 

a parent-child index, tapping non-abuse-related family dynamics. 

Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor argued that the results of the statistical control provide more confidence in the claim that CSA causes harm.

Laumann et al.'s (1994) U.S. sample

We computed effect sizes for the items judged to be relevant to current adjustment, as well as those relevant only to sexual activity with no implication for adjustment. 
Table 3 presents the items along with their effect sizes computed separately for males and females. Effect sizes with asterisks indicate a significant difference between the control and sexually touched groups. The .0025 level of significance was used because of the large number of variables (the Bonferroni correction was p = .05/20 = .0025); one-tailed tests were used to test the hypothesis that proportionately more sexually touched than control respondents would evidence sexual problems or activity. 

The table shows that 

males who were sexually touched when prepubescent by older individuals had more problems than control males in 4 of 11 problem areas; 

sexually touched females had more problems than control females in 4 of 10 areas. 

The size of these differences was small in all cases. 

For males, effect sizes ranged from r = .01 to .12; 

for females, the range was from r = -.12 to .14. 

Study-level effect sizes were r = .07 for males and r = .05 for females. 

Laumann et al. (1994) cautioned that the finding regarding more negative adjustment for sexually touched persons needs to be interpreted carefully because 

"[a]t no point is there any evidence that a majority of those with childhood sexual encounters [with older persons] have problems in their adult sexual lives. The differences, although consistent, are modest" (p. 346). 

The bottom section of Table 3 provides the items and their effect sizes comparing sexually touched versus control respondents on different types and levels of sexual activity (e.g.,

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more than 10 sex partners ever; ever had group sex; masturbated last year). 
For most items for both males (5 of 7 items) and females (6 of 7 items), significant differences emerged, with sexually touched individuals consistently experiencing more varied sexual activities at greater leve1s. 

For males, effect sizes ranged from r = .04 to .13; 

for females, these effect sizes ranged from r = .06 to .17. 

The study-level effect sizes for sexual activity were r = .10 for males and r = .12 for females.

Because sexual activity and CSA were confounded, Laumann et al. cautioned against attributing the somewhat poorer adjustment in sexually touched respondents to their CSA

López et al.'s (1995) Spanish sample

In López et al.'s (1995) study conducted on a national Spanish sample, López et al. found that SA respondents, as a group, were more poorly adjusted than controls but noted that additional analyses revealed that this poorer adjustment applied only to female SA versus control respondents. No difference in adjustment was found between male SA and control respondents. 

Using their data, we calculated effect sizes for males and females, yielding 

a very small effect size for males (r = .04) and 

a small effect size for females (r = .09).


Los Angeles Times telephone survey of a U.S. sample

Finkelhor et al. (1989) divided respondents into three groups: 

victims with intercourse, 

victims with no intercourse, and 



They found significant differences in adjustment for both males and females, in which victims reported more marital disruption and a lower level of satisfaction with their current heterosexual relationships. 

We contrasted the two victim groups with the non-victim group and obtained small effect sizes for both measures for both sexes. 

For males, effect sizes were 

r = .07 for marital disruption and 

r = .06 for sexual satisfaction; 

for females, effect sizes were 

r = .13 for marital disruption and 

r = .08 for sexual satisfaction. 

Finkelhor et al. acknowledged these small differences by noting that

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the discussion of long-term impact needs to be tempered with caution because 

"[ w ]hat has often been neglected ... is that many victims do not suffer ... impairments" (p. 395). 

In this national sample, most victims did not suffer impairments. Finkelhor et al. also conducted analyses on these data to control for a variety of background factors 




father's education, 

single parent or stepparent family, 

happiness of family life) 

and found that satisfaction with sexual relationships for men became non-signjficant. They argued that, because the other differences remained significant, the assertion that CSA causes harm was strengthened.

For the attitudinal items, we calculated effect sizes separately for males and females. 

If the actual difference in proportions between SA and control respondents was in the direction expected by the judges, the effect size was assigned a positive sign. 

If the actual difference was in the opposite direction from the judges' expectations, then the effect size was assigned a negative sign. 


Table 4 contains the set of 43 valid items, along with their effect sizes for male and female respondents. Effect sizes with asterisks indicate a statistically significant negative impact of CSA The .0012 level of significance (one-tailed) was used because of the large number of items ( the Bonferroni correction was p = .05/43 = .0012).

The effect sizes were consistently small for both males and females. 

For males, they ranged from r = -.08 to .11 (mean r = .006). 

For females, they ranged from r = -.06 to .10 (mean r = .013). 


Only 1 out of 43 items was significant in the case of males, and 

only 4 out of 43 items were significant in the case of females. 


Because attitudes are feelings people have about themselves, other people, objects, or issues (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), it would be expected that attitudes should be affected by traumatizing events that produce long-term harm. Although this relation undoubtedly occurs for some SA persons, the results of our analysis indicate that, as a group, this relation was negligible in the LA Times national sample. 

We calculated the study-level effect sizes for males and females separately, computing the mean of the effect sizes for marital dissatisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and the mean attitudes. The study-level effect size was r = .05 for males and r = .07 for females.

Synthesis of adjustment measures in the five samples

As a final step in examining the various measures of adjustment across the five national samples, we conducted two meta-analyses of these results, one for male respondents and the other for female respondents. 

Table 5 summarizes the five studies, showing the study-level effect sizes and sample sizes used to determine the unbiased effect size estimates for males and females separately.

Table 6 shows the results of the meta-analyses. 

For males, the effect sizes were homogeneous, Χ2 (4) = 3.63, p > .40. 
Combining the effect sizes yielded an unbiased effect size estimate of ru = .07, which was statistically significantly different from zero, z = 4.56, p < .001, two-tailed.
 The 95% confidence interval ran from r = .04 to .10. 

For females, the effect sizes were not homogeneous, Χ2 (4) = 15.01, p < .005. 
The unbiased effect size estimate was ru = .10, which was statistically significantly different from zero, z = 6.51, p < .001, two-tai1ed. 
The 95% confidence interval ran from r = .07 to .12. 


We compared the male and female effect sizes using a weighted contrast analysis, as described by Rosenthal (1984). SA females compared to their controls showed somewhat poorer adjustment than SA males did compared to their controls, although this difference was not statistically significant, z = 1.12, p > .20, two-tailed.

Because the female effect sizes were not homogeneous, we examined study attributes in an attempt to account for the heterogeneity. 
The effect size from the Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor (1995) study was substantially larger than most other effect sizes for females -- a similar discrepancy obtained in the case of the male effect sizes. These researchers asked their respondents only about unwanted CSA, in contrast to the other four studies, in which respondents were questioned about CSA events that

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could have been unwanted or willing. 

Rind (1996) showed in a meta-analysis of college samples that willingness of CSA participation moderated a variety of psychological correlates. 
Therefore, we examined whether willingness of participation would significantly account for the variance in effect sizes for females in the national samples. 

To examine the moderating effect of willingness of participation, we used categorical model testing (Hedges & Olkin, 1985). 
In categorical model testing, a categorical moderator variable adequately accounts for the heterogeneity in effect sizes when there is 

(a) heterogeneity between categories (i.e., the mean effect sizes of the categories defined by the moderator variable differ significantly), but 

(b) homogeneity within categories (i.e., effect sizes within each category are homogeneous).


Results of the categorical model testing were that 

(a) the mean effect sizes of the unwanted and all types of participation categories were significantly different, Χ2 (1) = 14.38, p < .001, and 

(b) the effect sizes within each category were homogeneous, Χ2 (3) = 2.62, p > .45, for the all types category. 


These findings indicate a moderating influence of respondents' level of participation. 
The unbiased effect size estimate for female respondents for the all types of participation category was ru = .07, z = 4.27, p < .001, with a 95% confidence interval of r = .04 to .10. 
For comparison's sake, we compared male effect sizes between the two categories of level of participation and found that the categories were marginally heterogeneous, Χ2 (1) = 3.08, p < .08.

Excluding the Boney-McCoy and Finkelhor result yielded an effect size estimate of ru = .06, z = 3.10, p < .001, with a 95% confidence interval of r = .02 to .09.

The results of the meta-analyses show that, in the national samples that included measures of psychological or sexual adjustment, CSA was related to adjustment problems for both genders, but the magnitudes of these relations were small. Therefore, if these CSA-adjustment relations reflected effects, rather than just correlates, of CSA, then the effects were on average of low intensity.


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