Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 2954–2965 | Cite as

Childhood Shadows: Psychological Distress of Childhood Maltreatment among Asian-American Women

  • Jungup Lee
  • Mi Jin Choi
Original Paper


Childhood maltreatment is a key social determinant that potentially results in long-lasting psychological consequences in adulthood. This study examined the link between childhood maltreatment (i.e., physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exposure to violence) and psychological distress (i.e., depression and anxiety) among Asian-American women. The moderating effect of perceived discrimination on the association was also investigated. This study utilized self-reported data from 1022 Asian-American women aged 18–65 (Mage = 38.51) who participated in the National Latino and Asian American Survey. A series of multivariate logistic regressions were conducted to detect the association between childhood maltreatment, sociodemographics and acculturation, and psychological distress for Asian-American women. Results indicated that Asian women who experienced sexual abuse and were exposed to violence during childhood had a significantly greater likelihood of both depressive and anxiety disorders, while childhood physical abuse was significantly associated with a depressive disorder, but not an anxiety disorder (Model 1). In Model 2, marital status and perceived discrimination were significant determinants of psychological distress. Respondents who were never married had a greater likelihood of depression compared to those who were married or cohabited. Also, women who perceived discrimination were more likely to have both depressive and anxiety disorders. In Model 3, perceived discrimination was a significant moderator on the association between exposure to violence and an anxiety disorder. From a clinical perspective, identifying the effects of social determinants on mental health disorders and providing proper services and intervention can be key to improving an individual’s well-being and social stability.


Childhood maltreatment Social determinants of health Depression Anxiety Asian-American women 



Author Contributions

J.L.: designed and executed the study, analyzed the data, wrote the paper, and edited the final manuscript. M.C.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WorkNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.School of Social WorkTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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