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Understanding Childhood Victimization Experiences and Mental Health Outcomes in a Sample of Prison Inmates in Northern Chile
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  • Cristián Pinto-Cortez,
  • Diego Portilla-Saavedra,
  • Diego Arias,
  • Rodrigo Ferrer-Urbina,
  • Marjorie Rojas,
  • Javiera Carvajal,
  • Álvaro Zamora,
  • Elizabeth Suárez-Soto
Cristián Pinto-Cortez
Universida de Tarapacá

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Diego Portilla-Saavedra
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Diego Arias
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Rodrigo Ferrer-Urbina
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Marjorie Rojas
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Javiera Carvajal
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Álvaro Zamora
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Elizabeth Suárez-Soto
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Previous research has demonstrated a relationship between childhood victimization and negative mental health outcomes among individuals deprived of liberty. However, these studies have generally focused on physical abuse or sexual abuse and have been conducted in developed countries. Based on this background, the present study aimed to explore the associations between different forms of childhood victimization and psychological distress in a sample of individuals deprived of liberty in northern Chile. Data from 229 participants in a high-security prison facility were used. Six modules of victimization were included, such as conventional crimes, caregiver victimization, peer victimization, sexual victimization, and indirect victimization. Correlation analyses and multiple hierarchical regression were conducted to measure the associations between the variables of interest and psychological distress. Overall, different forms of victimization were associated with all evaluated symptomatology. In a more detailed analysis, it was found that gender, caregiver victimization, and sexual victimization had the greatest predictive weight on adult mental health problems among individuals deprived of liberty. From a social reintegration perspective, these findings could provide the necessary theoretical basis for increased investment in mental health for the incarcerated population in Chile. Considering that many of these individuals may have been exposed to experiences of victimization in their childhood, it becomes crucial to prioritize their mental well-being as part of their rehabilitation process. It is necessary to continue deepening the understanding of these phenomena through studies considering the high prevalence of mental health problems among individuals in correctional systems.