“We often use betrayal trauma theory to describe children who have experienced child abuse. But the same betrayal occurs with IPV [intimate partner violence]: 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.”
-Noelle St. Vil, Asst. Prof. at University of Buffalo’s School of Social Work [1A]
Intimate partner violence and betrayal can leave deep and long-lasting scars. Most support focuses on helping women escape abusive relationships . Few resources teach survivors how to move past abusive relationships and form healthy, new ones.
According to research published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence [1B], there are four barriers to establishing such new relationships:
- Vulnerability/Fear. Women who have experienced an abusive relationship may create an emotional “wall” to protect themselves from further hurt. This wall can remain in place even after a sexual relationship has been initiated.
- Relationship Expectations. Women who have experienced an abusive relationship are likely to expect that all relationships will eventually deteriorate into violence.
- Shame/Low Self-Esteem. Of course, low self-esteem is likely to impact the selection of a new partner. When conflict occurs (as it does in all relationships), women who have experienced an abusive relationship will revert to feeling unloved and unlovable.
- Communication Issues. Women who have experienced an abusive relationship may have difficulty communicating that experience to their new partners. The less communication, the less likely a new relationship will last.
But that these barriers exist does not mean they cannot be overcome.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34; 18).
[1A and 1B] Journal of Interpersonal Violence, “Betrayal Trauma and Barriers to Forming New Intimate Relationships Among Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence” by Noelle St. Vil, et al, 6/2/18, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0886260518779596 .
 Science Daily, “Intimate partner violence doesn’t end with the relationship”, 7/11/18, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180711141351.htm.
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7 responses to “Intimate Partner Violence”
Great post with good advice always.
Many thanks. ❤
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It’s true that, with a lot of work, we can learn to trust again and to build a new and healthy relationship with a different partner. Certainly, it is not going to be easy as our protective survival instincts will be quick to kick in. But it is possible. And it will be easier if we are able to allow God to heal us. His grace can heal and change us in ways that therapy can’t.
I entirely agree.
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