Post-separation abuse: A literature review connecting tactics to harm

Kathryn J. Spearman, Viola Vaughan-Eden, Jennifer L. Hardesty, Jacquelyn Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Post-separation abuse is a pervasive societal and public health problem. This literature review aims to critically synthesize the evidence on tactics and consequences of post-separation abuse. We examined 48 published articles in the US and Canada from 2011 through May 2022. Post-separation abuse encompasses a broad range of tactics perpetrated by a former intimate partner including patterns of psychological, legal, economic, and mesosystem abuse as well as weaponizing children. Functional consequences include risk of lethality and deprivation of fundamental human needs. Connecting tactics of post-separation abuse to harms experienced by survivors and their children is crucial for future research, policy, and ­intervention work to promote long-term safety, health, and well-­being of children and adult survivors.


  • Child custody
  • family court
  • intimate partner violence
  • post-separation abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Law


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