Post-separation abuse: A concept analysis

Kathryn J. Spearman, Jennifer L. Hardesty, Jacquelyn Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aim: To report an analysis of the concept of post-separation abuse and its impact on the health of children and adult survivors. Design: Concept analysis. Data Sources: A literature search was conducted via PubMed, Cochrane and Embase and identified articles published from 1987 to 2021. Methods: Walker and Avant's (2019) eight stage methodology was used for this concept analysis, including identifying the concept, determining the purpose of analysis, identifying uses of the concept, defining attributes, identifying a model case and contrary case, antecedents and consequences and defining empirical referents. Results: Post-separation abuse can be defined as the ongoing, willful pattern of intimidation of a former intimate partner including legal abuse, economic abuse, threats and endangerment to children, isolation and discrediting and harassment and stalking. An analysis of literature identified essential attributes including fear and intimidation; domination, power and control; intrusion and entrapment; omnipresence; and manipulation of systems. Antecedents to post-separation abuse include patriarchal norms, physical separation, children, spatiality and availability, pre-separation IPV and coercive control and perpetrator characteristics. Consequences include lethality, adverse health consequences, institutional violence and betrayal, such as loss of child custody and economic deprivation. Conclusion: This concept analysis provides a significant contribution to the literature because it advances the science for understanding the phenomenon of post-separation abuse. It will aid in developing risk assessment tools and interventions to improve standards of care for adult and children survivors following separation from an abusive partner. Impact: This concept analysis of post-separation abuse provides a comprehensive insight into the phenomenon and a theoretical foundation to inform instrument development, future research and intervention. Post-separation abuse is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon that requires differential social, legal and healthcare systems responses to support the health and well-being of survivors and their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1246
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • concept analysis
  • custody
  • divorce
  • intimate partner violence
  • nursing
  • post-separation abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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