Partner Preferences Among Survivors of Betrayal Trauma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Betrayal trauma theory suggests that social and cognitive development may be affected by early trauma such that individuals develop survival strategies, particularly dissociation and lack of betrayal awareness, that may place them at risk for further victimization. Several experiences of victimization in the context of relationships predicated on trust and dependence may contribute to the development of relational schema whereby abuse is perceived as normal. The current exploratory study investigates interpersonal trauma as an early experience that might impact the traits that are desired in potential romantic partners. Participants in the current study were asked to rate the desirability of several characteristics in potential romantic partners. Although loyalty was desirable to most participants regardless of their trauma history, those who reported experiences of high betrayal trauma rated loyalty less desirable than those who reported experiences of traumas that were low and medium in betrayal. Participants who reported experiences of revictimization (defined as the experience of trauma perpetrated by a close other during 2 different developmental periods) differed from participants who only reported 1 experience of high betrayal trauma in their self-reported desire for a romantic partner who possessed the traits of sincerity and trustworthiness. Preference for a partner who uses the tactic of verbal aggression was also associated with revictimization status. These preliminary findings suggest that victimization perpetrated by close others may affect partner preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-174
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • partner preferences
  • revictimization
  • romantic relationships
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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