Nav: Home

Intimate partner violence doesn't end with the relationship

July 11, 2018

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Violence that occurs between intimate partners does not end with the relationship's conclusion, yet few resources exist to help survivors move beyond the betrayal of abusive relationships in order to begin new, healthy relationships.

The effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) are profound, painfully enduring and should command as much attention as providing victims with the help necessary to leave violent relationships, according to a new study by a University at Buffalo social work researcher.

"Once a victim leaves an abusive relationship we have to begin addressing the issues that stem from having been in that relationship," says Noelle St. Vil, an assistant professor in UB's School of Social Work. "You can carry the scars from IPV for a long time and those scars can create barriers to forming new relationships."

St. Vil calls IPV a pervasive public health issue.

Nearly one in three women in the U.S. have experienced IPV. One in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.

IPV is a subtype of domestic violence. While domestic violence can include violence occurring among any individuals living in a single household, IPV is at the level of an intimate relationship.

It's one partner trying to gain power and control over another partner. IPV can involve many types of violent behavior, including physical, verbal, emotional and financial.

Looking at IPV from the perspective of betrayal trauma theory, a concept that explores when trusted individuals or institutions betray those they're expected to protect and support, St. Vil's research, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, explores how the long-lasting implications of IPV and the consequences of being in such a relationship should be addressed.

"We often use betrayal trauma theory to describe children who have experienced child abuse," says St. Vil. "But the same betrayal occurs with IPV: a partner who you trust, can be vulnerable with, who should be building you up, is in fact inflicting abuse. It's a betrayal of what's supposed to be a trusting relationship."

With most help and support centered on keeping women safe in a relationship or providing them with the means to get out of an abusive relationship, St. Vil began thinking about the effects of the trauma.

"How do you move forward after leaving?" she asked. "What does that look like?"

Her interviews with nine survivors of IPV represent the initial steps to answer those questions and revealed four barriers to establishing new relationships.
  • Vulnerability/Fear: Women emerging from IPV often set up an emotional wall, hesitant to begin new relationships. Some victims said they entered into a physical relationship, but avoided becoming emotionally attached.

  • Relationship Expectations: Some women in the study opened themselves emotionally, but expected even what appeared to be a healthy relationship to decay into violence.

  • Shame/Low Self-Esteem: Participants in the study expressed how low self-esteem sabotaged new relationships. Part of gaining power and control in violent relationships involves breaking down self-esteem. When things aren't going well in new relationships, victims can return to the feelings experienced during IPV, asking, "Why would anyone love me?"

  • Communication Issues: St. Vil says communication is a major issue in new relationships as victims struggle to understand and explain to new partners what they experienced during IPV and its effects on their current behavior. Women who were unable to communicate their experiences felt disconnected from their new relationships.


St. Vil says her one-on-one interviews capture critical aspects of IPV survivors' experiences. "This is a starting point," she says. "We're trying to understand the depth of the issue and can use the data from this research for a potentially larger study."

For the time being, St. Vil is emphatic.

"The effects don't end once a woman is out of the relationship. We need to understand that and know there's more work to be done."
-end-


University at Buffalo

Related Relationships Articles:

Better quality relationships associated with reduced dementia risk
Positive social support from adult children is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia, according to a new research published today.
Contraception influences sexual desire in committed relationships
How often women in heterosexual couples desire sex depends on how committed the relationship is and what type of birth control the woman uses.
Health determined by social relationships at work
Recent research shows higher social identification with one's team or organization is associated with better health and lower stress.
Financial relationships between biomedical companies and organizations
Sixty-three percent of organizations that published clinical practice guidelines on the National Guideline Clearinghouse website in 2012 reported receiving funds from biomedical companies, but these relationships were seldom disclosed in the guidelines, according to a new study published by Henry Stelfox and colleagues from the University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, in PLOS Medicine.
Money really does matter in relationships
Our romantic choices are not just based on feelings and emotions, but how rich we feel compared to others, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology has found.
Does frequent sex lead to better relationships? Depends on how you ask
Newlywed couples who have a lot of sex don't report being any more satisfied with their relationships than those who have sex less often, but their automatic behavioral responses tell a different story, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Concussion can alter parent-child relationships
A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology, reveals the adverse effects of mild traumatic brain injury on the quality parent-child relationships.
Emotionally supportive relationships linked to lower testosterone
Science and folklore alike have long suggested that high levels of testosterone can facilitate the sorts of attitudes and behavior that make for, well, a less than ideal male parent.
Memory is greater threat to romantic relationships than Facebook
A new study was designed to test whether contacts in a person's Facebook friends list who are romantically desirable are more or less of a threat to an existing relationship than are potential partners a person can recall from memory. threatened current committed relationships, as reported in an article published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
How does prison time affect relationships?
A new study highlights the complicated spillover effects of incarceration on the quality of relationships.

Related Relationships Reading:

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
by Tim S. Lane (Author)

How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
by David Richo (Author), Kathlyn Hendricks (Foreword)

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind - and Keep - Love
by Amir Levine (Author), Rachel Heller (Author)

I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships
by Michael S. Sorensen (Author)

When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships
by David Richo (Author)

Relationships
by The School of Life (Author), Alain de Botton (Series Editor)

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships
by John Gottman (Author)

Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work
by Matthew McKay PhD (Author), Patrick Fanning (Author), Kim Paleg PhD (Author)

The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Expanded Third Edition: How to recognize it and how to respond
by Patricia Evans (Author)

Understanding Men: Know What He's Really Thinking, Show Him You're The One, Why Men Pull Away, Why He's Afraid To Commit & How To Read Him Like A Book (Relationship and Dating Advice for Women 1)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why We Hate
From bullying to hate crimes, cruelty is all around us. So what makes us hate? And is it learned or innate? This hour, TED speakers explore the causes and consequences of hate — and how we can fight it. Guests include reformed white nationalist Christian Picciolini, CNN commentator Sally Kohn, podcast host Dylan Marron, and writer Anand Giridharadas.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#482 Body Builders
This week we explore how science and technology can help us walk when we've lost our legs, see when we've gone blind, explore unfriendly environments, and maybe even make our bodies better, stronger, and faster than ever before. We speak to Adam Piore, author of the book "The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human", about the increasingly amazing ways bioengineering is being used to reverse engineer, rebuild, and augment human beings. And we speak with Ken Thomas, spacesuit engineer and author of the book "The Journey to Moonwalking: The People That Enabled Footprints on the Moon" about...