Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Patton O. Garriott, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cynthia McRae

Third Advisor

Julia O. Dmitrieva


Child abuse, Childhood abuse, Coping style, Positive psychology, Resilience, Social support


Studies show that up to 50% of children worldwide are affected by physical, emotional, sexual abuse and/or neglect. While these traumatic events can have profound consequences on development across the lifespan, it is important to note that approximately 20-30% of childhood abuse survivors do not report negative impacts. One explanation for this difference in outcomes is the concept of resilience, defined as successful adaptation in spite of the experience of high-risk trauma. Many studies have been conducted to delineate factors fostering resilience. Some researchers argue that individuals' ability to achieve resilience is a direct result of the environment, while others feel individual characteristics play a strong role, and still others believe both are essential. The present study explored the roles that environmental protective factors, as assessed by social support, and internal resilience characteristics, assessed by coping style, play in buffering the relationship between childhood abuse and positive adaptation, assessed by life satisfaction, using hierarchical multiple regression.

It was hypothesized that both social support and coping style would significantly moderate the relationship between childhood abuse and life satisfaction, and that there would be a three-way interaction between social support and coping in moderating the relationship between childhood abuse and life satisfaction. Results indicated that adaptive coping styles (problem-focused and support-seeking coping) significantly buffered the negative relationship between childhood abuse and life satisfaction for survivors of childhood emotional abuse. Support-seeking coping also significantly buffered the negative relationship between childhood abuse and life satisfaction for all survivors of childhood abuse. Results are discussed in terms of understanding the mechanisms by which survivors can achieve positive adaption following childhood trauma.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Sarah Elizabeth Cleary


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

102 p.


Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology