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Journal Article

Citation

Feinson MC, Meir A. J. Interpers. Violence 2015; 30(3): 499-521.

Affiliation

Falk Institute for Behavioral Health Studies, Kfar Shaul, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, Israel.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2015, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/0886260514535094

PMID

25015236

Abstract

Although childhood abuse is an established risk factor for mental health problems in adulthood, there is relatively little empirical evidence concerning intervening factors that may mitigate the risk. One potentially protective factor is religiosity. A unique opportunity to explore religiosity's relevance exists with a community-based sample of adult Jewish women that includes sizable subsamples of both rigorously devout ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) and nonreligious Secular Jews. A global measure of any childhood abuse (ACA) includes sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse. Mental health is assessed with the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI distress) and a single item reflecting unresolved anger about the past. Predictors of distress severity are examined with separate hierarchical regressions for each religious observance (RO) group. Despite being located at opposite ends of the religiosity spectrum, several surprising similarities emerge including no significant RO group differences in distress among abuse survivors. Moreover, ACA emerges as the strongest predictor of BSI distress within both groups and regressions explain similar amounts of variance. In contrast, two important differences emerge regarding unresolved anger and any recent abuse (ARA). Anger makes a strong contribution to explaining Haredi distress severity, less so for Secular respondents (6.1% vs. 2.9% respectively) while ARA is significant only for Haredi respondents. These initial findings suggest that abusive traumas in childhood may seriously compromise religiosity's potentially protective role. Broadening the research agenda to focus on resilient survivors would expand our understanding of healing resources-both within and outside of a religious framework. Moreover, a better understanding of unresolved anger would likely enhance interventions with greater potential for mitigating the suffering of those abused in childhood.


Language: en

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