Date of Conferral
Dr. Sharon Xuereb
The purpose of this study was to understand the role of resilience and protective factors (PFs) in the life of women who have experienced childhood maltreatment (CHM). A further purpose was to understand how women who faced CHM develop resilience, and how the proper use or misuse of PFs later affected their adult relationships, whether intimate, social, or familial. Resiliency theory was the theoretical foundation that informed the study. A qualitative methodology with an interpretative phenomenological analysis design was used in this study. Participants included 7 women who were recruited through social media support groups for adult survivors of child abuse. Participants were interviewed via telephone and Skype. Data from these interviews were analyzed and coded according to the interpretative, phenomenological method. Five main themes emerged, providing awareness as to the development of resilience and PFs as well as the role of resilience and the impact PFs have on relationships survivors entered as adults. The themes included: trauma results in resilience and healing through helping others; time and interventions heal perception of abuse; guarding trust to avoid hurt as the effects of CHM lasts a lifetime; support is key then and now; and the effects of CHM and protective factors affect healthy adolescent and adult relationships. The findings were compared with existing literature to recommend ways therapeutic practitioners and social service workers can provide early interventions for those exposed to CHM and help them move past the starting point of unpacking the trauma to the ending of point of sustaining healthy adult relationships.