A prospective investigation of the relationship between child maltreatment and indicators of adult psychological well-being

Violence Vict. 2012;27(5):764-76. doi: 10.1891/0886-6708.27.5.764.


The study of psychological well-being will advance understanding of child maltreatment effects and resilience processes. In this study, the mean level of anger in adulthood was significantly higher for those identified three decades earlier as having been maltreated. Mean levels of self-esteem, autonomy, purpose in life, perceived (fewer) constraints, and happiness and satisfaction were lower for those who were maltreated according to child welfare reports. Officially recorded child maltreatment was moderately (r < .30) correlated with several psychological well-being indicators and predictive of adult anger, self-esteem, autonomy, and happiness/life satisfaction after accounting for childhood socioeconomic status (SES), gender, and other sources of data on child abuse and neglect. Parent-reported abusive disciplining also uniquely predicted several outcomes, as did a measure of observed child neglect to a lesser extent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Anger
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data