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  1. From Signs That (S)He Has Changed (S)He is willing to wait however long it takes for his/her partner’s trust to be rebuilt, and does not pressure partner to forgive or reconcile until the partner is ready. (S)He does not say or do things that threaten or frighten the partner. (S)He listens to and respects partner’s opinion, even if (s)he disagrees. Partner can express anger or frustration toward him/her without being punished or abused. (S)He respects partner’s “no” in all situations, including physical contact. (S)He does not prevent partner from spending time with friends and family, and does not punish partner later. (S)He is willing to continue counseling as long as necessary. (S)He takes responsibility for his/her actions, and does not blame partner for his/her bad behavior. (S)He is kind and attentive instead of being demanding and controlling. When (s)he becomes frustrated or angry, (s)he does not take it out on the partner or children. When (s)he fails, (s)he admits those mistake and takes responsibility for changing abusive behavior. (S)He admits to his/her abusive behavior, and stops trying to blame or cover up. (S)He acknowledges that all the abuse was wrong, and identifies all the ways (s)he used to justify the abusive behavior. (S)He acknowledges that the abusive behavior was not a loss of control, but a choice on his/her part. (S)He recognizes and is able to verbalize the effects of his/her abuse on partner and children. (S)He identifies attitudes of entitlement or superiority, and talks about the tactics (s)he used in maintaining control. (S)He replaces distorted thinking with a more positive and empathetic view. (S)He consistently displays respectful behavior toward partner and children. (S)He wants to make amends for the harm (s)he has caused. (S)He is committed to not repeating past abusive behavior, and realizes it will be a life-long process. (S)He is willing to hear feedback and criticism, is honest about his/her failures, and is willing to be held accountable for abusive thinking and behavior. “Beware of the temptation to gauge change by means of the perpetrator’s church-going or therapy-acquiring behavior. Going to church or seeing a therapist is not good enough . . . does not prove that (s)he is no longer going to hurt his/her partner any longer.” (S)He Has Not Changed If . .. (S)He blames partner or others for her/his behavior. (S)He uses guilt to manipulate the partner into dropping charges or keeping silent. (S)He does not faithfully attend her/his treatment program. (S)He pressures the partner to let her/him move back in before partner is ready. (S)He will not admit (s)he was abusive. (S)He convinces others that it is the partner who is either abusive or crazy. (S)He demands to know where partner is and whom (s)he is with. (S)He uses partner’s behavior as an excuse to treat the partner badly. (S)He continues to use sarcasm or verbal abuse, talk over his/her partner, and shows disrespect or superiority. (S)He does not respond well to complaints or criticism of her/his behavior when (s)he slips back into abusive behavior. (S)He continues to undermine partner’s authority as a parent, and partner’s credibility as a person. Her/His mindset about women/men has not changed, even though (s)he avoids being abusive. (S)He criticizes partner for not realizing how much he has changed. “Completion of a batterer’s intervention program class by a man does not mean his victim is safe or that he has stopped being abusive. While men may learn tools for acting nonviolently, research indicates that many men continue to be abusive, even if they change their tactics.” —Embracing Justice: A Resource Guide for Rabbis on Domestic Violence If you go back too soon, the abuse will be worse and leaving again will be harder. Steps to Change 1. Admit fully to his/her history of emotional, verbal, psychological, sexual and physical abusiveness. Denial and minimizing need to stop, including discrediting your memory of what happened. 2. Acknowledge that the abuse was wrong, unconditionally. (S)He needs to identify the justifications (s)he used, including the ways (s)he blamed you, and talk in detail about why his/her behaviors were unacceptable, without defending them. 3. Acknowledge that his/her behavior was a choice, not a loss of control. 4. Recognize the effects his/her abuse has had on you and on your family, and show empathy for those. (S)He needs to talk IN DETAIL about the impact that the abuse has had, including fear, loss of trust, anger, etc. And (s)he needs to do this without feeling sorry for him/herself or talking about how hard the experience has been for her/him. 5. Identify in detail his/her pattern of controlling behaviors and entitled attitudes. (S)He needs to speak in detail about the day-to-day tactics of abuse (S)he has used, identify the underlying beliefs and values that drove those behaviors, such as considering him/herself entitled to constant attention. 6. Develop respectful behaviors and attitudes to replace the abusive ones (s)he is stopping. 7. Reevaluate his/her distorted image of you, replacing it with a more positive and empathetic view. (S)He has to recognize that (s)he has focused on and exaggerated his/her grievances against you. (S)He needs to compliment you and pay attention to your strengths and abilities. 8. Make amends for the damage (s)he has done. (S)He has to have a sense that (s)he has a debt to you. (S)He can start payment by being consistently kind and supportive, putting his/her own needs on the back burner for a couple of years, fixing what (s)he has damaged, and cleaning up the emotional and literal messes (s)he has caused. 9. Accept the consequences of his/her actions. (S)He should stop blaming you for problems that are the result of his/her abuse. 10. Commit to not repeating his/her abusive behaviors. (S)He should not place any conditions on improvement – such as saying (s)he won’t call you names as long as you don’t raise your voice. 11. Accept the need to give up his/her privileges and do so. Stop double standards, stop flirting with others, stop taking off with friends while you take care of the children. (S)He also is not the only one allowed to express anger. 12. Accept that overcoming abusiveness is likely to be a life-long process. (S)He cannot claim that his/her work is done by saying, “I’ve changed, but you haven’t.” or complain that (s)he is sick of hearing about the abuse. 13. Be willing to be accountable for his/her actions, both past and future. (S)He must accept feedback and criticism and be answerable for what he does and how it affects you and the children. How to Assess an Abuser's Claims of Change – from Lundy Bancroft, “Why Does He Do That; Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” (Link to External Site)
  2. SCRIPTURE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE The following information has been taken directly from the book “Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman” written by Reverend Marie Fortune, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. The following is a selection of scriptures and her interpretation on a variety of issues that may be of importance to a woman: roles of husbands and wives, parenting, divorce, understanding true religious conversion and seeking shelter. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. (1 Cor. 3:16-17) You are valued in God’s eyes; your whole self is regarded by God as a temple, a sacred place. Just as God does not want a temple defiled by violence, neither does God want you to be harmed. God’s spirit dwells in you and makes you holy. You deserve to live without fear and without abuse. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) Here, Jesus is saying that some people come among us to hurt and destroy others. Jesus came so that we might know fullness of life and feel safe and happy. When He promised abundant life, He was referring to spiritual abundance. Primary to this spiritual abundance is feeling safe and unafraid in your own home, knowing that you are loved and respected for who you are. This is God’s will for you and your children. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph. 5:21) This is the starting point for all our relationships as Christians, inside the family or outside. Here the words “be subject to” also means “accommodate to” or “give way to”. This means that we should all, including husbands and wives, seek to be flexible with each other and give way to each other. In subsequent verses we find further clarification: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (Eph. 5:22-23) The husband’s headship suggested here does not mean a role of unquestioned authority to which you are to be blindly obedient. What is described here is a model based on Christ’s relationship to the church: Jesus was the servant of all who followed him and he gave himself up for them. Never did he order people around, threaten, hit or frighten them. Almost all the rest of this passage from Ephesians spells out the instructions to the husband in his treatment of his wife: he is to be to her as Christ was to the church. This means he is to serve her needs and be willing to sacrifice himself for her if need be. This is what Jesus did for the church. He is to love his wife as himself, to nourish her and cherish her. Another passage is even more specific: Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Col. 3:19) Clearly, the emphasis scripture places on instructing husbands to care for and respect their wives just as Christ did, the church leaves no room for excusing a husband’s violent and abusive behavior toward his wife. Neither does your responsibility to accommodate to him and respect him mean that Jesus expects you to stay and tolerate his abuse. If he is not fulfilling his responsibility as a husband to you-- that is, treating you with respect-- you are not obligated to be a doormat for him. Your obligation is to provide for your safety and your children’s safety. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights and likewise, the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Cor. 7:3-4) This clearly lays out the mutual rights and responsibilities for husband and wife, and they are exactly the same. Both have a right to expect sexual activity with the other and both have a responsibility to respect the wishes of the other. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother that it may be well for you and that you may live long on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up on the discipline and instructions of the Lord. (Eph. 6:1-4) Since this verse follows the reiteration of the commandment to honor father and mother, the writer must be concerned about the misuse of that commandment in ways that cause harm to children. The caution is appropriate. Anger at the injustice done to them is an appropriate response for an abused child. Parents are cautioned and told to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This means that parents should treat children as Jesus treated children. In no way can this verse be regarded as permission to abuse a child. The writer places proper discipline in the context of gospel values: love, respect, care and protection. Children are vulnerable due to their age, size, naiveté and dependence on adults. It is our task as Christians to protect them and to treat them with kindness and respect as we discipline them. You need to take seriously your role as parent in protecting your children if they are being harmed by your husband. They cannot protect themselves. They are dependent on you. You are accountable to God for them. He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Prov. 13:24) “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is a statement that actually does not appear in scripture at all. The point of the actual proverb is to encourage parents to discipline children-- that is, to guide and direct them. The rod was most frequently used by the shepherd in biblical times to protect and guide the sheep or to pull them out of dangerous places, not to beat them, hence the reference in Psalm 23: “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. You must face the fact: the final age of this world is to be a time of troubles. (People) will love nothing but money and self; they will be arrogant, boastful and abusive; with no respect for parents, no gratitude, no piety, no natural affection; they will be implacable in their hatreds, scandal-mongers, intemperate and fierce, strangers to all goodness, traitors, adventurers, swollen with self-importance. They will be those who put pleasure in the place of God, those who preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality. Keep clear of people like these. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) If your partner has told you that he has been converted to Jesus, you should be somewhat cautious. If this is a true conversion, then he has only just begun on a very new road in his life. His conversion can be very helpful as he goes about the hard work of changing his abusive behavior and implementing his repentance for his battering. But he is fragile and needs guidance from a pastor who understands the task ahead of him and who understands his battering problem. His conversion is only the beginning, not the end. In other words, there are some persons who are abusive and hateful to others and yet who put on the facade of religion to cover up their true selves. God does not expect us to be gullible and to accept their religiosity at face value. If their actions in private are not consistent, if they are abusive at home but at church are zealous converts, then they are presenting the “outward form of religion” but are denying its reality. Their conversion is a fraud. Do not be deceived by it. In the Book of Acts, we read of Paul’s purpose in his ministry-- to insure that those who had not received God’s word would repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance. (Acts 26:20) If your partner has truly repented and been converted, has genuinely turned to God, then he should perform acts worthy of his repentance. You should wait and watch for those acts; wait for him to no longer be abusive and controlling toward anyone. Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, if her repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, “I repent”, you must forgive him. (Luke 17:1-4) First, Jesus says to take care of yourself. If someone abuses you (sins), rebuke him. In other words, somehow the abuser needs to hear that his behavior is wrong. This does not mean that you do it alone. It more likely means that you ask others to help you in that, perhaps the police or the pastor or other family members. Then, Jesus says, if he repents, forgive him. This is a big if. Repentance here means more than remorse. Remorse usually gets expressed during the “making up” period of the battering cycle. The remorse may even be very genuine, but it does not mean that he will not hit again. Repentance is much more significant. To repent, in both the Old and New Testaments, means to turn away from, to change, and never to repeat again. True repentance on the part of the abuser means that he never hits again and that he learns to relate to you and/or other people in ways that are not controlling, demanding and dominating. Forgiveness does not mean “forgiving and forgetting”, implying that everything is fine now, pardoning the abuse or ignoring it. Forgiveness means putting that experience in perspective, putting it behind you and not allowing it to continue to victimize you. You can let go of it; you can remember it only when you need to. Forgiveness is for you, not for the abuser. His repentance, not your forgiveness, is what will finally bring about his healing. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder. (Matt. 19:6) Any man who brings violence and abuse into his family life is putting asunder the marriage covenant that God has blessed. The violence is what breaks up the marriage, and the one responsible for that violence is the one responsible for the breakup. The actual divorce is in fact only the public acknowledgment of the private truth that a marriage covenant has been long since destroyed by abuse. And this again you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because (God) no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. You ask, Why does (God) not?” Because the Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life: And what does (God) desire? Godly offspring. So take heed to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. “For I hate divorce.” says the Lord the God of Israel, “and covering one’s garment with violence” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless”. (Mal. 2:13-16) We have always taught within the Christian tradition that the marriage covenant is broken by sexual unfaithfulness in marriage. The main reason that adultery is a problem is that it results in broken trust between husband and wife. But we should also realize that there are other kinds of unfaithfulness. Bringing violence into one’s marriage is also unfaithfulness. Once violence has entered a relationship, trust is destroyed. If you can’t trust your husband not to hit you, what can you trust? When God says in this passage that God hates divorce, God is acknowledging the pain that we all feel when a situation reaches the point where a divorce is necessary, when the brokenness is so great that it cannot be repaired. God does not say, “Thou shalt not divorce”. But God grieves that unfaithfulness of any kind to the marriage covenant results in a divorce. My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Yea, I would wander afar, I would lodge in the wilderness. I would haste to find me a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” (Ps. 55:4-8) There are times when the wisest thing to do is to remove yourself from a dangerous situation. You should not have to live in fear in your own house. You have the right to be safe. But it takes courage to leave and to face the unknown. Fortunately, now there are safe places for you and your children to go. It will give you some time to think, sort out your feelings, and make decisions for you and your children.
  3. The following dissertation summary was provided by a researcher who approached Pandy's last spring for permission to gather some of her research here. Many times we request a copy of the summary research data to share with our membership, and this time we are able to share that information with the membership. Admittedly the sample size is small with only 79 respondents in the survey, however there is some more information that does provide data to indicate that CSA among males is more prevalent than society generally believes it to be. Supportive thoughts to all, Patricia Adult Attachment and Relationship Satisfaction Among Men Who Experienced Childhood Abuse by Selisha Nelson, PhD A nonexperimental study was conducted to examine the relationship between adult attachment and relationship satisfaction among men who reported a history of childhood abuse. This study attempted to answer three research questions examining the relationship between the three different attachment styles, relationship satisfaction, and childhood abuse severity. Previous research presented with an absence of information regarding how experiences of childhood abuse affect the manner in which men bond and experience satisfaction in romantic relationships. Results of this study indicated that there was no relationship between childhood abuse severity and insecure attachment, there were no differences between relationship satisfaction based on attachment style, and childhood abuse severity did not moderate the relationship between adult attachment and relationship satisfaction. Although marital status was not used in any of the primary analyses, it was found that relationship satisfaction differed significantly by marital status. Results found that men who were married or in a committed relationship had significantly higher levels of relationship satisfaction than single men, even if they scored in the dissatisfied range. This study and its fundamental importance were justified by the dearth of empirical data in the literature regarding experiences exclusively of men with a history of abuse and its effects in domains of relationship satisfaction and attachment. Well documented in the literature are behavioral and emotional outcomes of childhood abuse among women in various aspects of relationships, mental health, attachment, and overall wellbeing. Because of the lack of literature among men, this study was conducted to provide awareness to a population that experiences abuse at a potentially similar rate as women (Kraftcheck et al., 2007). The goal of this study was to clarify findings based on attachment theory (Bowlby, 1973), which purported that relationships during childhood tend to play a major role in how individuals connect and bond with others throughout their lives. Childhood abuse disrupts a child’s ability to develop healthy and positive internal working models of themselves or others, which can also lead to insecure attachments with primary caregivers and others (Bowlby, 1973). Researchers have noted that instances of parental rejection, a lack of parental support, warmth, and harmony, and adverse events during childhood tend to result in an insecurely attached child who may eventually grow up to feel less satisfied with themselves, relationships, and life in general (Hinnen, Sanderman, & Sprangers, 2009). Individuals with an insecure attachment are likely to report poor childhood conditions and emotional or relational problems during adulthood (Whishman, 2006). This current research confirmed previous literature as it highlighted that over half of the men who participated in this study revealed an insecure attachment and more men reported dissatisfaction in relationships. All the men reported childhood abuse, with more men disclosing experiences of sexual abuse. During childhood, children look to their primary caregivers for security and trust; however, when childhood physical and/or sexual abuse occurs, that sense of trust and safety is betrayed. The outcome tends to be a manifestation of anger and suspiciousness in relationships, which make it more difficult to obtain satisfaction (Whishman, 2006). Childhood abuse and neglect can also contribute to emotional disturbances, shame and guilt, isolation, and difficulty developing close relationships (Riggs et al., 2011). Common among previous research literature and this current research are the challenges faced in close relationships. To further elaborate on findings of this study and their connection to extant literature, Whishman (2006) found that childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased relationship problems, and individuals who reported a history of physical abuse tended to have low marital satisfaction and harmony. Research also found that childhood traumas of a physical and sexual nature were associated with a greater probability of marital disruption and low marital satisfaction in adulthood (DiLillo, Lewis, & Di Loreto-Colgan, 2007; Whishman, 2006). Sexual abuse by a parent could cause immense confusion in a child along with a sense of betrayal. This type of abuse from such a close caregiver can harm the child’s capacity for trust, intimacy, and self-esteem during adulthood (Easton et al., 2011; O’Leary et al., 2010). A large number of men from this current study disclosed experiences of physical and sexual abuse from their parents and some parents were reportedly involved in child pornography rings and sex cults in which the child was used for sex. Research has shown that a dismissing and preoccupied attachment style predicted marital dissatisfaction in couples, concluding that attachment style tends to be a significant indicator of the level of satisfaction in relationships (Mondor, McDuff, Lussier, & Wright, 2011). Individuals with a preoccupied attachment tend to perceive themselves as unlovable and worry excessively about being rejected by their partner. Dismissing attachment is characterized by a belief that others will be unavailable during times of need, which leads to avoidance of being too close or dependent in relationships. Interestingly, results of this current study found that more than half of the participants reported a disorganized/fearful attachment style; however, as aligned with previous research, dismissing attachment was the second highest reported style of attachment. Childhood traumas such as neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and parental psychopathology were found to be related to adult attachment. Parental divorce, absentee parents, and death of a parent were also associated with adult attachment (Hinnen et al., 2009). Many of the men in this study reported such events during their childhood. Many adverse experiences during childhood were related to one’s satisfaction of life during adulthood, which was influenced by one’s attachment style. Individuals with fearful and dismissing attachment styles may have learned to be more independent with a tendency to refrain from seeking support from others because it is likely that their parents were absent or unresponsive (Hinnen et al., 2009); however, individuals with a fearful attachment style typically recreate past traumas, which could contribute to conflicts in relationships and overall dissatisfaction (Buckley, 2013; Wallin, 2007). Researchers have questioned whether the ability to recall childhood experiences was associated with adult attachment styles (Hinnen et al., 2009). It has been found that individuals with a dismissing attachment style tend to encode less emotional information than those who are not avoidant in their attachment style, and as a result, may have difficulty accessing attachment memories. Those who report a preoccupied attachment may be sensitive to experiences that may be perceived as rejecting and abandoning, which may lead to accessing of more negative memories from childhood. Overall, previous research indicated that individuals who are anxious or avoidant in their attachment style tend to report more childhood adverse experiences; however, recollection of those memories may be skewed based on attachment representations (Hinnen et al., 2009). The theoretical base for this study supported Bowlby’s (1973) attachment theory, which suggests that individuals are biologically hardwired to develop close bonds and connections with other people. The bond between a child and his or her primary attachment figure is adaptive to survival and reduces the child’s risk of harm or danger, as these attachment figures serve as the child’s source of safety and security (Bowlby, 1982). The manner in which a child bonds and interacts with his or her attachment figure is suggestive of future outcomes later in life. A lack of consistency, affection, and attachment during childhood can lead to dependency, anxiety, aggressiveness, and difficulty in social situations throughout an individual’s life. When security is lost during childhood, one’s sense of safety with others becomes distorted. There is a tendency to find it difficult to trust others, which can lead to problems in close relationships. Individuals with insecure attachment find it challenging to develop and maintain intimate relationships with others. These challenges tend to manifest as a result of developed insecure attachments of a fearful, dismissing, and preoccupied nature (Reyome, 2010). Bartholomew and Horowitz’s (1991) attachment representations provided some additional structure for this study in regard to defining secure, dismissing, preoccupied, and fearful attachment styles. There have been numerous studies citing research from Bartholomew on the different attachment styles and the role they play in relationships (Buckley, 2013; Holland & Roisman, 2010; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007; Taussig and Culhane, 2010); Wallin, 2007) and additional research on the effects of childhood abuse and how the different attachment styles manifest in romantic relationships (Buckley, 2013; Muller, 2009; Reyome, 2010; Walker, & Holman, 2011; Zilberstein & Messer, 2010). Individuals with a fearful attachment style tend to have the most impairment in relationships as they recreate trauma experienced during childhood. Relationships are unstable and involve conflicts, testing, avoidance, and emotional instability (Riggs, 2010). Within this study, more than half of the men reported a fearful attachment style. These relationship patterns help emphasize why there is a proclivity toward dissatisfaction in relationships. Individuals with an avoidant attachment style may devalue intimacy and detach from their feelings, need for closeness, and intimacy (Buckley, 2013). This attachment style was the second highest reported in this study. Much of the existing research on childhood abuse has been solely focused on the female population; however, this study specifically employed the male population because they tend to be under-researched (Kraftcheck et al., 2007). Childhood abuse is a widely studied phenomenon; however, prevention continues to be a necessity. There has been noted research on the effects of childhood abuse and how it manifests in adult relationships regarding attachment; however, research is lacking among men. The problem with this lack of research is fairly complex because of the lack of disclosure from men who can take years to disclose experiences of abuse (O’Leary & Barber, 2008). Stigmas attached to men who do report abuse because of internalized beliefs that they are weak, damaged, and unlovable (Kapeleris & Paivio, 2011; Paivio & Pascual-Leone, 2010; Whishman, 2006) may lessen from participating in research and exploring the outcomes of abuse. These men could be the voice of a silenced population. Understanding how men are affected by childhood abuse can bring awareness to various concerns and unexplainable behaviors displayed by men. As a result, appropriate intervention strategies can be employed to help with managing behavioral symptoms and relational problems. By understanding one’s attachment style, exploration can occur of how beliefs about self and relationships developed and distortions can be challenged and healing can begin. This research can provide information to professionals who provide couple’s and marriage therapy because the manner in which an individual connects in relationships is critical to understanding their behaviors in relationships and internal working models. This research adds to the literature of research conducted solely with the male population by providing information regarding attachment styles and relationship satisfaction. It was significant because abuse during childhood for men can have some of the same adverse effects as with women. Many of the men in this study reported sexual trauma prior to the age of 18, showing that sexual trauma is not a gendered phenomenon and could be at higher rates among men; however, a lack of and delayed disclosure (O’Leary et al., 2010; Quina & Brown, 2007) prevents adequate research from occurring consistently. Increasing awareness may help in the implementation of programs and supports to help men heal from the trauma of abuse and neglect during some of the most vulnerable phases of their lives. This study provides understanding into the relationship between adult attachment and relationship satisfaction among men who report a history of childhood abuse. There were no significant relationships or differences among childhood abuse severity, adult attachment, and relationship satisfaction. A total of 79 men completed the online surveys and reported experiences of physical and or sexual abuse. Of these 79 men, only three reported secure attachment, which means 79 men had insecure attachments. With this information, avenues for additional exploration of the causes of insecure attachment can be explored and appropriate assessments can be made for individual and marriage therapy to highlight potential causes of presenting behaviors in men. Although this study did not indicate any statistical significance among childhood abuse severity, adult attachment, and relationship satisfaction, there is now research on rates of insecure attachments and level of relationship satisfaction among those who have reported abuse. Research has now highlighted that men experience childhood abuse at an alarming rate and action must be taking in regard to prevention, availability of educational resources, and support to manage behaviors that may arise as a result of adverse childhood experiences. Further, education could help the general public, mental health practitioners, and families of those abused to understand the effects of childhood abuse, how it manifests in relationships throughout individual’s lives, and how men connect and bond with others. This information can potentially help understand parenting styles and level of satisfaction in relationships. Notably, this research may provide some awareness into the fact that there are men willing to disclose experiences of abuse; however, appropriate measures must be taken to maintain confidentiality and safety as well as understanding that difficulty in disclosing vulnerable information of abuse can potentially be re-traumatizing for men. Empathy may be critical to obtaining the trust needed to conduct more in-depth research. The current study has expanded the understanding of the relationship between adult attachment and relationship satisfaction among men who report a history of childhood abuse. It is recommended that additional research be given to this topic in a more in-depth nature. The current study used quantitative measures; however, conducting this study using qualitative measures would possibly produce more comprehensive analysis and statistical significance as it would gather specific themes that could be explored to address any relationships among adult attachment, relationship satisfaction, and childhood abuse severity. Results indicated that there were a high number of men who reported insecure attachments and more men reported dissatisfied relationships than those who reported satisfaction. Research should also include men who are not in connection with any organizations that offer support for experiences of abuse. It appears as though childhood abuse did not moderate any relationship between adult attachment styles and relationship satisfaction. As research has previously noted, insecure attachments in relationships can lead to poor development and maintenance of close interpersonal relationships (McCarthy & Maughman, 2010). The attachment bond influences early emotional and romantic relationships; therefore, an insecure attachment is more likely to lead to dissatisfaction in relationships. Additional research is needed in the realm of childhood experiences of men and whether attachment plays a significant role in relationship quality. The measures used in this study may not have been sufficient enough to explore any relationships among these variables; however, it is noteworthy to mention that the majority of the men reported relationship dissatisfaction and insecure attachments. Additional research should also explore what other factors may moderate the relationship between adult attachment and relationship satisfaction. Much research has explored the effects of childhood abuse, and men should be afforded the opportunity to share their experiences to allow for additional awareness of the potential effects of such abuse and knowledge that it occurs just as frequently as with the female population. Researchers may face barriers in that men are less likely as women to report experiences of abuse, which makes this vulnerable topic of childhood abuse difficult to explore. It is important that researchers remain persistent and understanding of the challenges these men face regarding the effect of childhood abuse. It is this researcher’s hope that these findings will bring much needed awareness to a population that is under-researched so that appropriate care and treatment are enforced, policies for prevention are developed and implemented, increase in education and knowledge for early recognition of signs of abuse are made available, and future research remains a priority. Their voices can and will be heard through appropriate means of research and exposure. References Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L.M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adult attachment: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(2), 226-244. Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. Separation. New York, NY: Basic Books. Bowlby, J. (1982) Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Basic Books. Buckley, K. (2013). Attachment in couples: Attachment style, love and romance, and detachment and couples therapy. (Unpublished master’s level thesis). California State University, Northridge, CA. DiLillo, D., Lewis, T., & Di Loreto-Colgan, A. (2007). Child maltreatment history and subsequent romantic relationships: Exploring a psychological route to dyadic difficulties. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 15, 19-36. Easton, S. D., Coohey, C., O’Leary, P., Zhang, Y., & Hua, L. (2011). The effect of childhood sexual abuse on psychosexual functioning during adulthood. Journal of Family Violence, 26(1), 41-50. doi:10.1007/s10896-010-9340-6 Hinnen, C., Sanderman, R., & Sprangers, M. A. G. (2009). Adult attachment as mediator between recollections of childhood and satisfaction with life. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 16(1), 10-21. Holland, A. S., & Roisman, G. I. (2010). Adult attachment security and young adults’ dating relationships over time: Self-reported, observational, and physiological evidence. Developmental Psychology, 46(2), 552-557. doi:10.1037/a0018542 Kapeleris, A. R., & Paivio, S. C. (2011). Identity and emotional competence as mediators of the relation between childhood psychological maltreatment and adult love relationships. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 20(6), 617-635. doi:10.1080/10926771.2011.595764 Kraftcheck, E. R., Muller, R. T., & Wright, D. C. (2007). Treatment of depressive symptoms in adult survivors of childhood trauma. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 15(1), 37-58. doi:10.1300/J146v15n01_03 McCarthy, G., & Maughan, B. (2010). Negative childhood experiences and adult love relationships: The role of internal working models of attachment. Attachment & Human Development, 12(5), 445-461. doi:10.1080/14616734.2010.501968 Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R. (2012). An attachment perspective on psychopathology. World Psychiatry, 11, 11-15. Mondor, J., McDuff, P., Lussier, Y., & Wright, J. (2011). Couples in therapy: Actor-partner analyses of the relationships between adult romantic attachment and marital satisfaction. American Journal of Family Therapy, 39(2), 112-123. doi:10.1080/01926187.2010.530163 Muenzenmaier, K., Spei, E., & Gross, D. (2010). Complex PTSD in men with serious mental illness: A reconceptualization. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 64, 257-268. Muller, R. T. (2009). Trauma and dismissing (avoidant) attachment: Intervention strategies in individual psychotherapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 46(1), 68-81. doi:10.1037/a0015135 O'Leary, P. J., & Barber, J. (2008). Gender differences in silencing following childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse: Research, Treatment, & Program Innovations for Victims, Survivors, & Offenders, 17(2), 133-143. doi:10.1080/10538710801916416 O'Leary, P. J., & Gould, N. (2010). Exploring coping factors amongst men who were sexually abused in childhood. British Journal of Social Work, 40(8), 2669-2686. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcq098 Paivio, S. C., & Pascual-Leone, A. (2010). Emotion-focused therapy for complex trauma: An integrative approach. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Quina, K., & Brown, L. S. (2007). Introduction. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 8(2), 1-7. doi:10.1300/J229v08n02_01 Reyome, N. (2010). The effect of childhood emotional maltreatment on the emerging attachment system and later intimate relationships. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19(1), 1-4. doi: 10.1080/10926770903486007 Riggs, S. A. (2010). Childhood Emotional Abuse and the Attachment System Across the Life Cycle: What Theory and Research Tell Us. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19(1), 5-51. doi:10.1080/10926770903475968 Taussig, H. N., & Culhane, S. E. (2010). Emotional maltreatment and psychosocial functioning in preadolescent youth placed in out-of-home care. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 19(1), 52-74. doi:10.1080/10926770903476008 Walker, E. C., Holman, T. B., & Busby, D. M. (2009). Childhood sexual abuse, other childhood factors, and pathways to survivors’ adult relationship quality. Journal of Family Violence, 24(6), 397-406. doi:10.1007/s10896-009-9242-7 Wallin, D. J. (2007). Attachment in psychotherapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Whishman, M.A. (2006). Childhood trauma and marital outcomes in adulthood. Personal Relationships, 13, 375-386. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2006.00124.x Zilberstein, K., & Messer, E. A. (2010). Building a secure base: Treatment of a child with disorganized attachment. Clinical Social Work Journal, 38(1), 85-97. doi:10.1007/s10615-007-0097-1 Adult_Attachment_Relationship_Among_Men_Experiencing_CSA.pdf
  4. Live Within Your Window of Tolerance: A Quick Guide to Regulating Emotions, Calming Your Body & Reducing Anxiety By Laura K. Kerr, PhD Healing from trauma is often described as a journey. Some people hate this description. I’ve heard, “It’s too kitschy!” And “A journey’s like a vacation, and recovering from trauma is like hell!” As a trauma survivor, I can admit I too have balked at the notion of a healing journey. But through the years I have spent working through my trauma responses, and through the work I’ve done as a trauma-trained psychotherapist, I came to see that the notion of a “healing journey” is sometimes pretty accurate (despite being cliché). The truth is, even if there is some magical place a trauma survivor can reach where she or he is completely over the past, the world can still be a dangerous and stressful place. The unexpected always happens, like the loss of a loved one, unemployment, or an illness. And for a lot of us, such events trigger old defenses and survival tactics — the very ones we work hard to overcome. For those just starting the journey, focusing on increasing a feeling of safety is the first step on the way to a life not constantly hijacked by trauma triggers and defenses. There are three important ways to think about safety: 1) Safety in your body 2) Safety in your emotions and thoughts 3) Safety in your environment and relationships In the face of the unexpected, we need tools to help us feel safe in all aspects of our lives. We also need ways to journey towards the life we want to live and how we want to feel about ourselves. And learning to live within your Window of Tolerance is a great way to maintain the gains you have made, as well as a vital first step for creating a sense of safety. Before I describe the Window of Tolerance, it helps to say what it isn’t: the defense reactions hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal. When we are triggered by reminders of past traumas, or we experience fear, overwhelm, or just lots of stress, our bodies naturally react defensively. We become “hyper-aroused,” which is the automatic activation of fight, flight, or freeze defense responses. Alternatively, when there is no opportunity to escape the sense of being threatened or chronically stressed, the body may eventually collapse, going into a state of so-called “hypo-arousal.” (in the graphic I provide some of the signs of hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal, along with signs of the Window of Tolerance, which is also known as the optimal zone of arousal). The continual activation of defense responses can lead to health problems. It can contribute to substance use and abuse, when drugs and alcohol are used to get out of hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal. Activation of defenses also causes relationship problems. Most of us have difficulty getting along with others when our defenses are activated. Often we think our hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal responses are signs that there is something the matter with us. Actually, when the body responds defensively, it’s just trying to keep you safe. You have little control; these reactions happen quickly and automatically to the subtlest signs of danger. Consequently, we have a hard time thinking our way out of our defense responses. Instead, it’s often better to approach these states by working with the body — both when feeling calm and when triggered or overwhelmed. Learning the signs that you are either hyper-aroused or hypo-aroused, and then doing things that help you feel calm and safe, is the practice of returning to the Window of Tolerance. By living within the Window of Tolerance, and avoiding or escaping defense states, you will not only feel better, but also can reduce the intensity of your responses to stress and fear. I think of the Window of Tolerance as the ultimate compass for the healing journey. Most trauma survivors spend a lot of time on a superhighway to hyper-arousal or hypo-arousal. Perhaps you’ve experienced rapidly changing emotions — ‘going from zero to a hundred’ — to a state of anger/rage, to a state of panic, or to being shut down and numb. Maybe you have heard this said about you, or you describe yourself that way. Think of developing your Window of Tolerance as getting off that superhighway of rapid defense response. Instead, you start a new path towards a more peaceful YOU. Maybe it starts as a tiny path. You get a little way in the Window before something startles you back to your rapid and automatic response to threat. That’s okay! The more you practice living within the Window of Tolerance, and the more you identify when you are outside the Window, the wider the new path becomes. You’re less often on the superhighway, and more often on a peaceful path of your own creation. And that’s a nice journey to be on. Below you’ll find a diagram of the Window of Tolerance, hyper-arousal, and hypo-arousal, along with the behaviors and inner experiences associated with each of these states. Use the diagram to begin identifying your personal signs of hyper-arousal, hypo-arousal, and living within the Window of Tolerance. It might also be helpful to identify 5 to 10 things you enjoy doing that keep you in the Window of Tolerance. Write them down and keep them with you to refer to when you find yourself back on that superhighway. click on the image to enlarge it so you can see and/or save the image On the pages following the diagram, you will find simple body-based ‘exercises’ (they take a few minutes at most) that you can do throughout the day to increase the time you spend in your Window of Tolerance. There is also a list of simple things you can do quickly and easily when you find yourself outside your Window of Tolerance that also focus on the body. I wish you peace along your journey. Laura Used with Permission, copyright 2015, Laura K. Kerr, PhD PO Box 27152 San Francisco, CA 94127 I. Practices for being in the “here and now” These exercises take less than a minute to do. They’re great in the morning when you just wake up, or as a break from work — anytime throughout the day — as a way to increase emotional regulation and relaxation. Centering Exercise Put one hand over your heart, and rest your other hand on your belly. Lengthen your spine. Take several full, slow breaths. Notice the fullness of your body as you let your breath come and go. Grounding Exercise Stand, in a relaxed position, focusing attention on the sensations in your feet. Put weight on different areas of your feet: front, back, sides. Then play a bit with movement — bending your knees, moving up and down. Sense the ground through your feet and legs. Alignment Exercise Take a little time to become aware of how your body aligns in a vertical direction: your ankles on top of your feet, your legs on top of feet and ankles, the pelvis resting on your legs, torso on pelvis, your head supported by shoulders and torso, arms hanging off your torso. Then imagine that you are being lifted by the top of your head. Also imagine the feeling of gravity pulling in the opposite direction on the bottom of your spine. Next, shift from feeling stretched to allowing your spine to collapse. Repeat several times these two movements with the flow of your breath — expand on the inhale, and then collapse on the exhale. Walking Exercise Bring all your attention to your body as you walk (and out of your head and worries). Notice how your feet hit the ground, how your feet roll, the movement in your knees, and corresponding sensations in your hips and shoulders. Play with your usual gait. Practice pushing off with your feet, or walking at different paces. Notice the corresponding changes in body sensations. II. The Power of Breath The following simple breathing exercises are also great to do throughout the day, whether during your commute, waiting in line, transitioning between work and play, or when giving yourself the ultimate treat — meditation! Simple Breath Imagine while you are inhaling that your breath is going all the way down to your pelvis. Then let the breath expand in your lower belly. When you exhale, let the breath escape effortlessly. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Bell jar breath Inhale a breath. When at the top (or end) of the inhale, imagine a rounded quality. Then let the inhale roll over into the exhale. Notice where the breath rolls — front, back, side to side (wherever it seems to go). Repeat 5 to 10 times. This breath is also useful when feeling hyper-aroused. 4 x 4 x 4 breathing Inhale deeply for four counts, then exhale for four counts, and repeat the cycle for four minutes several times a day. I find this a good practice to do before starting work or appointments, and while commuting. It’s also a great way to get back in the Window of Tolerance after stressful experiences. You can use your smartphone to time yourself so you can give full attention to your breath. III. Getting Back In The Window of Tolerance The following are ways to calm yourself when you find yourself outside your Window of Tolerance. If experiencing a sense of overwhelm Sit in a chair with your feet fully planted on the ground or stand with your spine fully extended. Then slowly scan the environment, naming the objects within your field of vision If shaking or trembling Take full, yet slow and easy breaths. No need to breath too deeply, though. If you can, sit in a chair or on a sofa, and wrap a blanket or comforter around yourself. Some people feel better if they also cover their heads. If numb Gently squeeze your forearms with opposite hands. Also increase awareness by noticing the environment through the five senses. What do you see, hear, smell? If you can, try touching or tasting something mindfully. If hyper-vigilant Lengthen your spine while taking full breaths. Pay attention to the rise and fall of breath as it alternatively fills and empties the chest and/or belly. If accelerated heart rate Take your attention away from the heart region by paying attention to the sensations in your feet. Notice the feeling of being grounded and connected to the floor or earth beneath you. If collapsed feeling in the body your as Try pushing firmly against the wall with your arms fully extended, your head up, and using your energy to ground down through the feet. Notice the feeling of sturdiness in body push. you If feeling the impulse to hurt yourself or someone else Push against the wall without aggression, and instead focus with awareness on a sense of grounding, starting with your feet and then moving through your body. Breathe full breaths, and keep bringing your thoughts back to your body sensations and away from the focus of your desperation, anger, or rage. If feeling disconnected or experiencing depersonalization Start by slowing the pace of whatever you are doing. Then firmly but gently squeeze the forearms, calves, thighs — whatever feels enlivening to you. Try also, “ Walking Exercise” above. If feeling frozen or panicked Sit comfortably in a chair or sofa, and wrap yourself in a comforter or blanket. Begin to focus on taking full, slow breaths, continually bringing your thoughts back to the present moment. Create a mantra for such moments, such as “I can be present and watch the waves of energy go by without getting caught in the story.” Shaking off the freeze Begin by slowly jumping off the ground, and shaking the arms out when feet land back on the ground. Take full breaths, mindfully inhaling when you jump, and exhaling fully when your feet land back on the ground. You can also say something to yourself like, “I’m safe. I’m letting go.” Using thoughts Name your reaction to yourself as a defense response, thus re-framing the experience. Say to yourself, “This is just a memory,” or “I’m just triggered right now.” You might also try saying to yourself, “I can be here — right here, right now.” Mindfully not dealing works too Give yourself permission to avoid, dissociate, or disconnect. But when you do, try to be mindful of your need to check out. Also make plans to give yourself needed TLC (like these exercises) as soon as you can — and follow through! Here is a short version of the Window of Tolerance Handout for you to download as a PDF for easy reference at home: LauraKerr_Short_WOT_Handout.pdf Please note: This document is not intended as a substitute for psychotherapy or other forms of professional support. Please do not suffer alone. In the USA, visit or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In the UK, provides both telephone and online help, including email support internationally. References Ogden, Pat. 2012. Level I: Training in Affect Dysregulation, Survival Defenses, and Traumatic Memory. Bolder, CO: Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. Ogden, Pat, Kekuni Minton, and Clare Pain. 2006. Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Siegel, Daniel J. 2012. The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. Second ed. New York: The Guilford Press. ABOUT LAURA K. KERR, PHD A periodic speaker, lecturer & teacher, and a former trauma-focused psychotherapist. My focus is healing mind, body & soul following traumatic experiences. I also write about the social conditions that contribute to trauma and traumatic stress. I am married and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. am a full-time writer & mental health scholar (PhD, Stanford University School of Education © 2015 Laura K Kerr, PhD. All rights reserved. PO Box 27152 San Francisco, CA 94127
  5. That makes me laugh, a lot, out loud in my office where people around me are wondering why I am laughing. Thank you for the joy moment.
  6. I've always struggled with my tears being visible to others. I recognize that much of this has to do with the torture and the negative consequences associated with various perpetrators for the tears. I found this great quote as I was reading Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” That entire book helped a great deal because the chronic suffering of living in the concentration camps during the holocaust connected with the same degradation of the CSA and torture and sexual trafficking of my childhood and teen years. I just want to encourage you that crying for the horrid hurts you experienced is not a shameful thing, far from it. Know I am thinking of you because I've spent some long periods in a chronic struggle with the wish to be dead. It did eventually ease.
  7. This is all so hard, and I am so sorry for the horror you are enduring and have endured. Hang in there and know that we are here for you. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. Bless your heart. Patricia