Posttraumatic Growth Among Women Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Its Relation to Cognitive Strategies, Posttraumatic Symptoms, and Resilience

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Abstract

Objective: Research suggests that, after a traumatic event, survivors can experience positive change (posttraumatic growth), but the relation of these changes to overall psychological adjustment (resilience) and psychological distress (posttraumatic symptoms; PTS), as well as the relation to possible contributors, is still unclear. The study examines posttraumatic growth (PTG) among women survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), looking at the relation of PTG to the women’s cognitive strategies (past self-blame, self-forgiveness, perception of control and hope), resilience and PTS. Methods: Self-report questionnaires were completed by 100 women survivors of CSA. Results: Findings show that the main contributors to PTG were demographic-familial variables (birth order and number of siblings) and cognitive strategies (self-blame and hope).The relationship between resilience and PTG was curvilinear: The highest levels of PTG occurred when resilience levels were moderate. Variance in PTG was also explained by an interaction between resilience and PTS. Conclusions: Cognitive strategies and familial variables can contribute to PTG. The complex relations between PTG, resilience and PTS might help professionals better understand different trajectories of adjustment among trauma survivors.

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