"It's Going to Make the Whole Tower Crooked": Victimization Trajectories in IPV

Christine E. Valdez, Ban Hong Lim, Michelle M. Lilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interest in the mechanisms by which childhood maltreatment can lead to adult intimate partner victimization (IPV) is growing, though limited research has examined these mechanisms from the direct perspective of the victims. Using qualitative methods to examine childhood histories in a sample of 23 IPV survivors, we identified two trajectories, childhood emotional trauma and childhood physical trauma, which lead to revictimization in adulthood in the form of IPV. The emotional trauma trajectory was associated with a desire for intimacy and deficits in navigating interpersonal relationships. Problematic interpersonal schemas and a fear of loneliness swayed many of these women to stay with an abusive partner. The physical trauma trajectory was associated with desensitization and normalization of violence. Problematic interpersonal schemas, and the belief that the experience of violence is normal, promoted tolerance of IPV. Implications for research and intervention are discussed.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Family Violence
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Child abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Family violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Revictimization


  • Psychiatry and Psychology
  • Psychology

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