Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 403–411 | Cite as

Optimism as a Mediator Between the Experience of Child Abuse, Other Traumatic Events, and Distress

  • Alison Brodhagen
  • Deborah Wise
Original Article


In this study, we examined the role of dispositional optimism in mediating distress among students who experienced traumatic events, including child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Participants included 199 undergraduate and graduate students (aged 18–63 years) from a private university in Oregon. In this study, dispositional optimism partially mediated distress among individuals who had experienced child physical abuse and child emotional abuse; participants with higher levels of optimism had lower levels of distress. In addition, dispositional optimism fully mediated distress among individuals who had experienced traumatic events such as rape, assault, and fire; participants with higher levels of optimism had lower levels of distress. Contrary to prediction, the experience of child sexual abuse was not associated with distress. Clinical implications of these results are addressed.


Dispositional optimism Child abuse Traumatic events Distress 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Professional PsychologyPacific UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.YalesvilleUSA

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