Alternate forms of adjustment in adult women survivors of CSA: the relationship between wellness, resilience, and post-traumatic growth

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth Hodges Shilling (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jane Myers

Abstract: Women disproportionately experience victimization as children, with at least one in five women reporting a history of child sexual abuse. The short and long term effects, both physical and emotional, are significant, negative, and pervasive, making CSA a critical physical and mental health issue for a significant portion of women in the United States. However, while many survivors experience negative long-term effects, a significant portion do not. This study addressed the need for greater attention to factors which depathologize this population, particularly the experiences of survivorship and how these are expressed in terms of wellness, resilience and post-traumatic growth (PTG). A sample of 163 adult women survivors completed an online survey comprised of instruments measuring wellness, resilience, PTG, and post-traumatic stress. A series of correlations revealed positive relationships between wellness factors and resilience, and wellness factors and PTG. Negative correlations were found between PTS symptoms and Resilience, and PTS symptoms and Wellness. Resilience and PTG were negatively correlated, a finding contrary to the conceptualization in the literature. A MANOVA and a series of linear regressions analyzed factors that might contribute to the variance in the major constructs. The results of the MANOVA indicated that the relationship to the perpetrator only affected PTS symptoms: women abused by a relative had significantly higher PTS symptoms. The results of the linear regressions indicated that the variables (current age, additional childhood maltreatment, reported current impact of CSA, CSA severity, and age at onset of abuse) accounted for a very small percentage of the variance in Wellness (16%) and Resilience (10%), and a greater amount of variance in total PTS symptoms (39%). The variables did not account for a significant amount of variance in PTG. The largest contributor of the variance in Wellness, Resilience, and PTS symptoms was the current impact of CSA while CSA severity was a significant contributor to PTS symptoms. A series of t-tests were conducted to analyze the difference between the wellness of this sample and the wellness reported by the normative group. Results indicated that the women in this sample had significantly lower Creative Self, Social Self, and Essential Self wellness but had significantly higher Physical Self wellness. No significant difference was found for Total Wellness and Coping Self wellness. The results of the final analysis, a hierarchical linear regression, indicated that above and beyond demographic variables, Resilience by far, and PTG, to a much smaller degree, were significant predictors of the variance in wellness factors. Additional research is necessary in order to further explore the relationships between wellness factors, resilience, and PTG.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Child sexual abuse, Counseling, Posttraumatic growth, Resilience, Wellness
Adult child abuse victims $x Mental health
Resilience (Personality trait)

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