Severity of post-traumatic stress disorder and childhood abuse in adult crime victims as mediated by low resilience and dysfunctional coping strategies

Myeongju Kim, Gahae Hong, Rye Young Kim, Yumi Song, Hyangwon Lee, Yoonji Joo, Jungyoon Kim, Sujung Yoon

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Background: Experience of childhood abuse has been suggested to increase the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adulthood. We hypothesized that resilience and coping strategies, which could be altered by experiencing childhood abuse, may mediate the effects of childhood abuse on PTSD severity in adulthood. Methods: Crime victims with PTSD (n = 212, 38 men, aged 20–65 years) were recruited from South Korea. PTSD severity, a history of childhood abuse, resilience level, and use of coping strategies were assessed using structured clinical interviews and self-report questionnaires. Upon identifying the key factors that were associated with childhood abuse and PTSD severity, mediating roles of these key factors were examined using structural equation modeling and bootstrapping in simple and multiple mediation analyses. Results: Resilience and dysfunctional coping strategies mediated the association between childhood abuse and lifetime PTSD severity in the adulthood, after covarying for the number of repeated trauma exposure (total effect: β = 0.44, P = 0.01, 95% CI [0.10, 0.77]; direct effect: β = 0.02, P = 0.90, 95% CI [−0.34, 0.38]; indirect effect: β = 0.42, P = 0.003, 95% CI [0.14, 0.69]). Limitations: Recall of childhood abuse experience and lifetime PTSD severity can be biased in crime victims. Conclusions: These findings may suggest that resilience and coping strategies mediate the detrimental effects of childhood abuse on lifetime PTSD severity. Targeted treatments that are designed to enhance resilience as well as deter the use of dysfunctional coping strategies may be of help in crime victims with a history of childhood abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105154
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT ( 2020M3E5D9080555 and 2020R1A2C2005901 ) and by the Ministry of Education ( 2020R1A6A1A03043528 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Childhood abuse
  • Coping strategies
  • Crime victims
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Resilience


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