This literature review was undertaken in response to a recommendation of a report on a Pilot Forum, Time to be Heard which recommended that research should be carried out to identify factors which seemed to increase resilience in some survivors. Time to be Heard was a Pilot Forum set up to hear evidence from adults who had been looked after in Quarrriers children's homes in the latter half of the twentieth century many of whom had experienced abuse while in the homes.
The aim of the study was to review the academic literature (published between 1990 and 2011) to identify the definitions and the factors associated with resilience, and how this knowledge might contribute to our understanding of adult survivors of childhood abuse while in residential care.
The literature reviewed identified resilience as a process rather than an individual character trait or a particular outcome. Two elements were apparent in all the proposed definitions: they described 'positive personal responses' in the face of 'adverse external events'.
Much of the literature reviewed related to young people’s experiences in institutional care, but institutional child abuse is a significant and under-researched problem. Disclosure of any form of abuse can often be difficult and challenging, and in the case of institutional child abuse, this has implications for the sort of support offered to survivors who take part in public inquiries and investigations. This merits further attention.
Nuturing individual resilience means focussing on strengthening resources available to an individual at personal, social and environmental levels.