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The Effects of Traumatic and Abusive Relationships

The present study aimed to understand what constitutes a traumatic relationship experience for adults in abusive intimate relationships and what effects, losses, and coping strategies were the most salient for these participants. A total of 101 individuals (42 males, 59 females) who reported experiencing an abusive or traumatic relationship participated. A mixed-method content analysis approach was used to derive the salient categories representative of participants’ traumatic relationship experience and the resulting effects. Participants’ responses to their most traumatic and distressing relationship experience revealed two themes: relational abuse and internal turmoil/stressful reactions. Participants also described numerous effects from the abusive relationship on their lives. Content analysis revealed four themes: internal turmoil, interpersonal affect, dysfunctional coping, and strength/empowerment. These findings are discussed in relation to treatment considerations for individuals experiencing relationship trauma.