History of childhood abuse in Portuguese parents

Bárbara Figueiredo*, Antonia Bifulco, Carla Paiva, Ângela Maia, Eugénia Fernandes, Raquel Matos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The study examines the self-reported prevalence of childhood physical and sexual abuse in a large sample of Portuguese parents. Method: Nearly 1,000 parents (506 mothers and 426 fathers) were selected through public primary schools from the Northern area of Portugal. All completed the Portuguese version of the Childhood History Questionnaire (CHQ) [Journal of Family Violence 5 (1990) 15]. Results: Results show that the prevalence of abuse was 73%, but more severe physical abuse involving sequelae/injury was reported by 9.5%. Most physical abuses began prior to age 13, with half continuing after age 13. No gender differences were found for rates of physical abuse. However, among the milder physical abuse without sequelae/injury, those women who experienced "whipping" or "slapping/kicking" were more likely to do so from their mothers than fathers. Among men who were "slapped/kicked" this was more likely to be from their fathers. Low rates of sexual abuse were found at 2.6% with no gender or age differences. Lack of a supportive adult in childhood related to the more severe abuses, but only in adolescence. Portuguese rates of abuse were consistently lower than those reported in USA and Spanish studies using the CHQ. Conclusions: This is the first retrospective, self-report study of childhood abuse in a large sample of Portuguese parents and, even with a participation rate of 69%, shows lower rates than in US and Spanish samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-682
Number of pages14
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • CHQ
  • Portugal


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