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Journal Article


Root MP, Fallon P. J. Interpers. Violence 1988; 3(2): 161-173.


(Copyright © 1988, SAGE Publishing)






VioLit summary:

The purpose of this study by Root and Fallon was to investigate the incidence of both sexual and physical assault and molestation experienced by an outpatient sample of female bulimics.

A quasi-experimental cross-sectional design was employed, with a non-probability sample of 172 consecutive applicants to the Bulimia Treatment Program in Seattle, Washington. Two measures were used - initially, respondents were mailed the Bulimia and Related Eating Disorders Screen, which was then followed by a structured, clinical, face-to-face interview at a later date. Analysis involved the examination of percentages to determine incidence of physical victimization amongst the subjects. Physical victimization was defined as a "physical boundary violation that involves physical contact by coercion or threat of physical harm. This violation results in fear, intimidation of the victim, and may involve sustained physical injuries" (p. 163). It was operationalized as rape, sexual molestation as a child, physical abuse as a child, and physical abuse in a relationship with a partner. It was measured via interview questions concerning being forced into sexual acts, extreme physical punishment as a child, being hit or shoved by a partner, being touched as a child in a way which was frightening or uncomfortable, feeling scared for physical safety if refusing sex, being forced into a first experience of sexual intercourse, having to dress in a way as to hide the fact that a fight had occurred with a partner, and being questioned by teachers about bruises or marks received from an adult.

It was found that 65.7% of the subjects had been physically victimized: 22.7% were victims of rape; 28.5% had been sexually abused as children; 29.1% had been physically abused as children; 22.7% were victims of battery in relationships; and many had experienced multiple forms of abuse. It was concluded that, while victimization does not necessarily lead to bulimia, it can contribute to a woman's vulnerability to developing bulimia as a coping mechanism following such traumatic experiences.

Implications of the study pointed to the need to examine the relationship between bulimia and physical victimization. By recognizing the signals of victimization, and by viewing the bulimic as a victim of the violations she has experienced, interventions such as behavioral contracting, cognitive restructuring and family-of-origin work could be more effective. The authors cautioned that the results should be considered conservative, given the fact that there is generally a large amount of underreporting of victimization experiences.

This study has limited generalizability of results as only female binge-purge bulimics, and no other types of bulimics or eating-disordered women were investigated. As well as this, no control group was used, and the history and impact of psychological abuse - a factor offered as an alternative explanation by the authors - was not included. However, the study is successful in that it suggests directions for further research into the effects of physical victimization upon various groups, as well as providing recommendations for treatment and policy planning. (CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

KW - Washington
KW - Adult Female
KW - Juvenile Female
KW - Psychological Victimization Effects
KW - Eating Disorder
KW - Female Victim
KW - Self Destructive Behavior
KW - Violence Effects
KW - Childhood Victimization
KW - Childhood Experience
KW - Child Abuse Victim
KW - Child Abuse Effects
KW - Child Victim
KW - Child Sexual Abuse Victim
KW - Child Sexual Abuse Effects
KW - Sexual Assault Effects
KW - Sexual Assault Victim
KW - Rape Victim
KW - Rape Effects
KW - Juvenile Victim
KW - Child Victim
KW - Adult Victim
KW - Dating Violence Victim
KW - Dating Violence Effects
KW - Spouse Abuse Effects
KW - Spouse Abuse Victim
KW - Domestic Violence Victim
KW - Domestic Violence Effects
KW - Partner Violence
KW - Violence Against Women
KW - Early Adolescence
KW - Late Adolescence

Language: en


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