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Childhood abuse and loss in the lives of low-income women

About 700,000 cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect are substantiated each year, making childhood maltreatment a common form of trauma in the histories of adults. We summarize the literature on the consequences of child maltreatment across the lifespan, agreeing with those researchers who see maltreatment as a public health problem. We examine low-income women’s perceptions of the impacts of childhood abuse on their adult experiences through 19 life narratives collected during 2008. Using a theoretical lens of Hobfoll’s Conservation of Resources, we discuss themes of loss and developmental stress in women’s experiences of childhood maltreatment. We conclude with implications for professionals and case managers working with low-income women, suggesting that assessment for childhood maltreatment is an important aspect of supporting low-income women and their families on the road to self sufficiency.


Gringeri, C., & Vogel-Ferguson, M. B. (2013). Childhood abuse and loss in the lives of low-income women. Qualitative Social Work, 12(5), 654–670.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23