Exposure to Parental Violence During Childhood and Later Psychological Distress Among Arab Adults in Israel: The Role of Gender and Sense of Coherence

Shireen Sokar, Charles W. Greenbaum, Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to parental violence in childhood is a significant predictor of psychological distress in adulthood. Factors at the individual level may explain the variance in psychological distress among adults exposed to parental violence. The current study examined the effect of exposure to different forms (i.e., physical violence and psychological aggression) and different patterns of parental violence (i.e., witnessing interparental violence, experiencing parental violence) on later psychological distress. The mediating role of sense of coherence (SOC) and the moderating role of gender in this relationship were also examined. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 604 married Arab adults in Israel (age = 20–60, M = 33.5, SD = 6.52) using a retrospective, self-administered questionnaire. Results indicate a significant positive relationship between all forms and types of parental violence explored in the current study with levels of psychological distress. Furthermore, exposure to parental violence correlated negatively with SOC, and low levels of SOC predicted higher levels of psychological distress. SOC was found to partially mediate the relationship between exposure to parental violence and psychological distress. Gender differences were found only with regard to experiencing physical violence as a predictor of psychological distress, indicating that the relationship between these variables is stronger in females. These results highlight the importance of SOC as a personal resource and its role in promoting psychological wellbeing. Healthcare practitioners should be aware of possible gender differences in psychological distress among Arab adults exposed to parental violence.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)NP588-NP612
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number1-2
Early online date30 Mar 2022
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants from the Ariane de Rothschild Women’s Doctoral Scholarship, and the Center for the Study of Multiculturalism & Diversity at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Arab society
  • exposure to parental violence
  • gender differences
  • long-term effects
  • psychological distress
  • sense of coherence


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