Last updated on: 3/12/2009 | Author:

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD Biography

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

“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
  • PhD, Psychology, Brandeis University
  • MA, Psychology, Brandeis University
  • BS, Child Development and Family Relationships, Cornell University
  • None Found
Quoted in:
  1. What Do We Know about Childhood Sexual Abuse and Homosexuality?