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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Factors associated with unwanted sexual experiences of young Australian females: an observational study

Asvini K. Subasinghe A B F , Yasmin L. Jayasinghe A C , John D. Wark D , Alexandra Gorelik E , Suzanne M. Garland A C , on behalf of the Young Female Health Initiative (YFHI) and Safe-D Study Groups
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

B Infection and Immunity Theme, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

C Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

D Department of Bone and Mineral Medicine, University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

E Melbourne EpiCentre, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: asvini.subasinghe@mcri.edu.au

Sexual Health 14(4) 383-391 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH16238
Submitted: 21 December 2016  Accepted: 6 April 2017   Published: 13 June 2017

Abstract

Background: Behavioural and lifestyle factors associated with childhood unwanted sexual experiences (USE) have yet to be investigated in Australian females aged less than 18 years. Methods: Women aged 16–25 years living in Victoria were recruited via targeted advertising on Facebook. A web-based validated questionnaire was used to collect information on participant demographics, mental health, USE and sexual behaviours. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine associations between a history of childhood (<16 years) and adolescent (16-18 years) USE and indices of sexual orientation. Results: Data were collected from 639 females (mean ± s.d. age 22 ± 3 years). Approximately 14% reported childhood USE and 15% reported adolescent USE. Approximately 37% of survivors of childhood USE reported penile-genital contact in relation to their USE. Participants who reported depression were almost four times as likely to have experienced childhood USE than those who did not report suffering from depression (odds ratio 3.6, 95% confidence interval 2.1-6.0, P < 0.001). Positive associations between childhood USE, same-sex relationships and smoking were also detected. Conclusions: A strong relationship between childhood USE, depression and same-sex sexual behaviours was found, but results did not determine the direction of this association. Longitudinal studies should be conducted to investigate whether there are groups of individuals who are at a high risk of experiencing childhood USE, so that appropriate support systems can be put in place.

Additional keywords: Australasia, sexual behaviours, sexual violence, women, youth.


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