In Love With a Trauma Survivor: When a History of Childhood Abuse Interferes With Relationship Satisfaction Among Couples

Ricky Finzi-Dottan, Ateret Gewirtz-Meydan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To date, the majority of research examining the effect of childhood abuse on relational aspects in adulthood is almost exclusively based on intraindividual data. The current study explores a moderating-mediating model from a dyadic perspective, examining the mediating effect that perceived intimacy has on the associations between concern couple caregiving and relationship satisfaction. It further investigates whether these mediation paths are moderated by a history of childhood abuse (physical/emotional/sexual). A total of 143 nonclinical couples (n = 286) in enduring relationships were recruited. A moderated mediation actor–partner interdependence model (moderated mediation actor-partner interdependence model (APIM)) comprised of three segments, was conducted. Results indicated that intimacy mediated the link between concern caregiving and relationship satisfaction on the actor’s level, with effects applying equally to both husbands and wives. A higher level of intimacy among husbands and wives alike is linked, in turn, with higher relationship satisfaction. The path between actors’ concern caregiving and their level of intimacy was moderated by the actors’ childhood emotional and physical abuse; specifically, concern caregiving exerts greater effect on intimacy among participants who experienced high levels of emotional abuse, or low levels of physical abuse. Our findings highlight how different types of childhood abuse affect adult romantic relationships differently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-568
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number3-4
Early online date20 Sep 2023
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • childhood abuse
  • concern couple caregiving
  • dyadic analysis
  • intimacy
  • relationship satisfaction

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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