The relationship between exposure to family violence in childhood and post-traumatic stress symptoms in young adulthood: The mediating role of social support

Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia*, Shireen Sokar, Niveen Hassan-Abbas, Menny Malka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Extensive research has examined the relationship between exposure to family violence and its long-term mental health effects. Social support has been found to moderate this relationship, but there is a dearth of research on its mediating role. Objectives: The article presents the results of a study on the relationship between witnessing interparental violence and experiencing parental violence during childhood and adolescence on the one hand, and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) during young adulthood on the other. In addition, the article presents results on the role of social support as a mediator in this relationship. Method, participants, and setting: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 516 Israeli university and college students (90.7% female, and 9.3% male; M age = 24.9, SD = 2.7) using a retrospective, self-administered questionnaire. Results: The results revealed that exposure to each pattern of family violence (i.e., witnessing interparental violence and experiencing parental violence) predicted higher levels of PTSS. Furthermore, social support was found to partially mediate the relationship between exposure to family violence during childhood and adolescence and current PTSS as well as its four symptoms, i.e., depression, sleep disturbance, dissociation, and anxiety. Conclusions: The results of the current study highlight the important role of social support in the association between adversities experienced early in life and young adulthood outcomes. The findings are interpreted on the basis of Conservation of Resources Theory (Hobfoll et al., 1990), which served as the conceptual framework for the study. The limitations of the study and implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-138
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume92
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Experiencing parental violence
  • Exposure to family violence
  • Long-term effects
  • Mental health effects
  • Post-traumatic stress symptoms
  • Social-support
  • Witnessing interparental violence

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