Background: Childhood maltreatment represents a major and preventable risk
factor for psychiatric difficulties. However, the majority of studies treat maltreatment
experiences as if they occur alone, but evidence suggests co-occurrence of maltreatment is
the norm rather than the exception. Little is known regarding consequences of particular
types and combinations of childhood maltreatment in adolescence.
Objective: To identify classes of maltreatment types and combinations using a personcentered
approach (Latent Class Analysis) and then to examine whether adolescents who
experienced specific types and combinations of maltreatment reported more borderline
personality traits, self-injury or internalizing and externalizing difficulties.
Methods: Participants included 327 adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 21 recruited
from schools, colleges and a university and who completed a series of online questionnaires.
Results: Four subgroups of maltreatment were identified including sexual abuse, physical
abuse, neglect co-occurring with physical and sexual abuse, as well as parental antipathy cooccurring
with neglect and physical abuse. With regard to personality disorder traits,
adolescents who experienced sexual abuse endorsed significantly more difficulties, as did
adolescents who experienced antipathy. With regard to self-injury, adolescents who
experienced sexual abuse, as well as those who experienced neglect were at higher risk. With
regard to internalizing and externalizing difficulties, adolescents who experienced sexual
abuse reported more internalizing difficulties, whereas those who experienced antipathy and
neglect reported more internalizing and externalizing difficulties.
Conclusion: Awareness of specific types and co-occurring maltreatment as risk factors for
personality difficulties and self-injury has implications for improving trauma informed