Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 759–769 | Cite as

The Effect of Family Violence on Sexual Victimization among Young Women

  • Katrien Symons
  • Sabine Hellemans
  • Mieke Van Houtte
  • Hans Vermeersch
Original Article


Young people who grow up in a violent family context are more vulnerable to become victims of sexual aggression outside the family context. The present study contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms that explain this link among young women by looking at the mediating role of sexual exposure behavior and target vulnerability. Data were used from an online survey among 237 young women aged 16 to 26 (M = 21.0 years, SD = 2.75). Experiencing violence from (one of) the parents and to a lesser extent witnessing interparental violence were related to an elevated risk for sexual victimization. Witnessing interparental violence was related to increased target vulnerability but this factor did not mediate the link with sexual victimization. Experiencing parental violence was related to both increased sexual exposure behavior and increased target vulnerability and these factors did mediate the link with sexual victimization.


Personal vulnerability Sexual behavior Routine activities theory Target vulnerability Self-esteem Sexual assertiveness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Experimental Clinical and Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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