Many studies have documented associations among sexual victimization (SV), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and alcohol use; however, few have examined these associations longitudinally among adolescents. The present study evaluated the effect of SV on the longitudinal trajectory of PTSD symptoms and binge drinking (BD) among adolescent girls, a population known to have high rates of SV and alcohol use.
Participants (N = 1,808 at wave 1) completed interviews regarding PTSD symptoms, BD, and SV experiences over approximately 3 years.
Multilevel modeling revealed decreases in PTSD symptoms over the course of the study; however, compared with nonvictims, adolescents who were sexually victimized reported greater PTSD symptoms at wave 1 and maintained higher levels of PTSD symptoms over the course of the study after controlling for age. SV reported during the study also predicted an acute increase in PTSD symptoms at that occasion. BD increased significantly over the course of the study; however, SV did not predict initial BD or increases over time. SV reported during the study was associated with acute increases in BD at that occasion, although this effect diminished when participants reporting substance-involved rape were excluded.
SV was associated with immediate and long-lasting elevations in PTSD symptoms, but not with initial or lasting elevations in BD over time, suggesting that adolescent victims have yet to develop problematic patterns of alcohol use to cope with SV. However, SV was associated with acute increases in PTSD symptoms and BD, suggesting a need for BD interventions to reduce alcohol-related SV.
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