The present study concurrently examined protective factors associated with the adaptive outcomes of resilience and posttraumatic growth (PTG; defined as positive psychological change resulting from a life crisis or trauma), after accounting for relevant demographic factors and the impact of circumstances surrounding childhood victimization (i.e., age of first trauma, frequency of victimization, and perception of trauma severity). The protective factors examined in the present study included social support from friends and family, optimism, positive religious coping (i.e., looking to God for support and guidance; forgiveness), and negative religious coping (i.e., feeling abandoned by God; anger towards God). Participants included 161 college students from the US MidSouth, aged 18-24 (Mage = 19.97, SD = 1.86). All participants reported experiencing physical violence and/or sexual abuse during their childhood. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that after accounting for demographics and circumstances surrounding the childhood victimization, higher resilience was associated with greater family support, optimism, and positive religious coping, while higher posttraumatic growth was associated with greater optimism and positive religious coping. These findings underscore the protective role of optimism with respect to both resilience and posttraumatic growth. Additionally, results highlight the importance of examining cognitions related to religious coping rather than simply assessing broadband religiosity, as only positive religious coping was associated with adaptive outcomes. Findings suggest the importance of early intervention to bolster protective factors (i.e., family support, positive thinking, gratitude, and positive religious coping skills) among youth exposed to childhood physical and sexual victimization.
Keywords: Child abuse; Emerging adulthood; Optimism; Religious coping; Resilience; Social support.
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