This retrospective study examined the relationship between childhood maltreatment and social relationships in an emerging adult sample of 159 individuals between 18 and 25 years of age. This research provides additional evidence on the effects of child maltreatment by investigating outcomes found in both friendship and romantic relationship quality in emerging adulthood. Protective factors likely to reduce the negative impact of child maltreatment on social relationships, including emotion regulation, coping, and optimism were examined as moderators. Emotion regulation was the only significant moderator that reduced the negative effect of child maltreatment on friendship and romantic relationship outcomes. Self-report of child maltreatment was associated with friendship quality and romantic relationship quality during emerging adulthood. Differential effects of maltreatment type were also assessed. The results indicated that physical abuse was the only significant indicator of child maltreatment that was associated with the outcomes of friendship experiences, satisfaction, and conflict. Sexual abuse was the strongest indicator of child maltreatment associated with romantic relationship satisfaction, conflict, and trust. Results contribute to the extant literature by revealing earlier life predictors of friendship and romantic relationship outcomes in emerging adults and the influence that emotion regulation has as a protective factor. Findings may inform additional interventions for children who have experienced child maltreatment by focusing on strengthening emotion regulation skills that increase the likelihood of building healthy social relationships in emerging adults.
Heikin, Roxanne E., "The Effects of Child Maltreatment on Social Relationships in Emerging Adulthood" (2019). Honors Projects Overview. 157.
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