Resilience Following Child Maltreatment: Definitional Considerations and Developmental Variations

Susan Yoon, Kathryn Howell, Rebecca Dillard, Karla Shockley McCarthy, Taylor Rae Napier, Fei Pei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Resilience following childhood maltreatment has received substantial empirical attention, with the number of studies on this construct growing exponentially in the past decade. While there is ample interest, inconsistencies remain about how to conceptualize and assess resilience. Further, there is a lack of consensus on how developmental stage influences resilience and how protective factors affect its expression. The current systematic review uses a developmental lens to synthesize findings on resilience following child maltreatment. Specifically, this article consolidates the body of empirical literature in a developmentally oriented review, with the intention of inclusively assessing three key areas—the conceptualization of resilience, assessment of resilience, and factors associated with resilience in maltreatment research. A total of 67 peer-reviewed, quantitative empirical articles that examined child maltreatment and resilience were included in this review. Results indicate that some inconsistencies in the literature may be addressed by utilizing a developmental lens and considering the individual’s life stage when selecting a definition of resilience and associated measurement tool. The findings also support developmental variations in factors associated with resilience, with different individual, relational, and community protective factors emerging based on life stage. Implications for practice, policy, and research are incorporated throughout this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-559
Number of pages19
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • adversity
  • child abuse
  • neglect
  • protective factors
  • resiliency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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