Protective factors associated with resilient functioning in young adulthood after childhood exposure to violence


Children may be subjected to many forms of violence and a significant number will experience multiple victimizations. These children are at high risk for developing psychological and emotional difficulties that may last into adulthood. Despite the increased risk for psychopathology, a substantial percentage of young adults exhibit resilient functioning following a history of childhood violence. This study examines the role of social support, spirituality, and emotional intelligence in promoting resilience during emerging adulthood. Participants included 321 young adult American college students, age 18-24, who experienced childhood violence, including community violence, interpersonal aggression, child maltreatment, peer/sibling victimization, and/or sexual assault. Findings revealed that this sample was highly victimized, with an average of 9 violent experiences reported during childhood. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that after controlling for exposure to childhood victimization, other potentially traumatic events, and current depression and anxiety symptoms, higher resilience during emerging adulthood was associated with greater spirituality, greater emotional intelligence, and support from friends (but not from family). Findings suggest that the potency of protective factors outweighs that of adversity and psychopathology when predicting resilient functioning. By identifying variables that can enhance resilience, this study offers unique insight into how functioning may be improved by both individual and environmental factors.

Publication Title

Child Abuse and Neglect