Resilience in child maltreatment victims: a conceptual exploration
Short Title: 
Resilience in child maltreatment victims

While many child maltreatment victims suffer serious negative emotional sequelae, others do surprisingly well. Resilience in children is a relative concept which can change over time and is affected by environment and genetics. Resilience is fostered by protective factors which ameliorate or alter a child's response to the hazards of maltreatment that usually predispose to maladaptive outcome. Personal characteristics or skills that may foster resilience include (1) rapid responsivity to danger; (2) precocious maturity; (3) dissociation of affect; (4) information seeking; (5) formation and utilization of relationships for survival; (6) positive projective anticipation; (7) decisive risk taking; (8) the conviction of being loved; (9) idealization of an aggressor's competence; (10) cognitive restructuring of painful experiences; (11) altruism; and (12) optimism and hope. There are also generic life circumstances, such as having access to good health, educational, and social welfare services, that foster resilience in children regardless of the specific nature of the stressor. Additionally, there may be abuse-specific protective factors in the environment. Examples might include the quick and full acknowledgment of an offender regarding abuse, or timeliness and permanence of legal actions affecting a child's custody. The life stories of three well-known survivors of various forms of child maltreatment illustrate how protective factors contribute to resilience. A caution is noted regarding how personal characteristics developed for survival may become maladaptive if overused and/or not given up when the stressor no longer exists. Characterological problems are most likely to develop when a child's life circumstances fail to change and the environment never becomes secure.

Mrazek, P. J.
Mrazek, D. A.
Item Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Title: 
Child Abuse & Neglect
Journal Abbreviation: 
Child Abuse Negl
Publication Date: 
Publication Year: 
Library Catalog: 
PMID: 3676892

Turabian/Chicago Citation

P. J. Mrazek and D. A. Mrazek. 1987. "Resilience in child maltreatment victims: a conceptual exploration." Child Abuse & Neglect 11: 3: 357-366.

Wikipedia Citation

<ref> {{Cite journal | doi = | issn = 0145-2134 | volume = 11 | pages = 357-366 | last = Mrazek | first = P. J. | coauthors = Mrazek, D. A. | title = Resilience in child maltreatment victims: a conceptual exploration | journal = Child Abuse & Neglect | date = 1987 | pmid = | pmc = }} </ref>