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Mediators of the Childhood Emotional Abuse-Hopelessness Association in African American Women

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2014 Pages: 1341-1350
Dorian A. Lamis; Christina K. Wilson; Amit A. Shahane; Nadine J. Kaslow
Date Published
August 2014
10 pages
This study of 121 low-income African-American women who were abused by an intimate partner in the past year examined whether their spiritual well-being (both religious and existential well-being) and positive self-esteem mediated the association between childhood emotional abuse and adult hopelessness.
The study found that childhood emotional abuse was negatively related to existential well-being; however, it was not associated with religious well-being. This suggests that women emotionally abused as children may not believe that their lives have meaning, direction, or special significance. Existential well-being was positively related to self-esteem; whereas, religious well-being was not a significant predictor of self-esteem. This suggests that compared to religious well-being, existential well-being may be more critical in promoting self-esteem. It may be that women who believe that their lives have purpose work toward goals that bolster self-worth and self-confidence when they are achieved. Conversely, individuals' perceived relationship with God may not in itself contribute to higher self-esteem. Both existential and religious well-being were negatively associated with hopelessness, suggesting that African-American women who believe their lives have meaning and/or perceive strong relationships with God are less hopeless and have a more positive outlook on the future. High levels of self-esteem predicted low levels of hopelessness. Thus, the effect of childhood emotional abuse on hopelessness was significantly mediated by both existential well-being and self-esteem. The sample was selected from women who came to a large public-sector hospital for either medical or psychiatric reasons. All participants attempted suicide within the year prior to coming to the hospital. Women were excluded from the study if they were determined to have significant intellectual or cognitive impairment or if they were unable to complete the assessment battery due to psychotic symptoms. 2 tables, 1 figure, and 88 references