Last updated on: 3/12/2009 | Author: ProCon.org

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD Biography

Title:
Professor of Criminal Justice and Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (CUNY)
Position:
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Is Sexual Orientation Determined at Birth?"
Reasoning:

“Existing cross-sectional research suggests associations between physical and sexual abuse in childhood and same-sex sexual orientation in adulthood. [Our] study prospectively examined whether abuse and/or neglect in child-hood were associated with increased likelihood of same-sex partnerships in adulthood. The sample included physically abused… sexually abused… and neglected children (ages 0-11) with documented cases during 1967-1971 who were matched with non-maltreated children and followed into adulthood. At approximately age 40, participants (483 women and 461 men) were asked about romantic cohabitation and sexual partners, in the context of in-person interviews covering a range of topics…

[The results revealed that] men with documented histories of childhood sexual abuse were significantly more likely than controls to report ever having had same-sex sexual partners… These prospective findings provide tentative evidence of a link between childhood sexual abuse and same-sex partnerships among men.”

“Does Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, or Neglect in Childhood Increase the Likelihood of Same-sex Sexual Relationships and Cohabitation? A Prospective 30-year Follow-up,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, Jan. 7, 2009

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor, Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychopathological Association, and the American Society of Criminology
  • Former Member, National Academy of Science Panel on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1992-1993
  • Policy forum speaker for the New York Governor’s Office, the US House of Representatives, the National Research Council, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Recipient, Outstanding Research Study award, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
  • Recipient, Distinguished Contribution in Applied Research in Psychology and Law award, the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology
  • Former faculty member, Harvard University, Indiana University, the University at Albany, and New Jersey Medical
  • Recipient, American Association for the Advancement of Science’s prize for outstanding behavioral research, 1989
Education:
  • PhD, Psychology, Brandeis University
  • MA, Psychology, Brandeis University
  • BS, Child Development and Family Relationships, Cornell University
Other:
  • None Found
Quoted in:
  1. What Do We Know about Childhood Sexual Abuse and Homosexuality?