Trauma-focused research has traditionally addressed symptom development in individuals who directly experienced traumatic events, overlooking the systemic impact of trauma on family members of trauma survivors. In recent years, researchers and clinicians have begun to understand the systemic effects of trauma by examining how individual exposure to traumatic events affects partners, children, parents, and other members of victims' social systems. The purpose of the current study was to further examine the systemic impact of trauma by exploring the individual symptoms of partners in dual- and single-trauma couples. The study examined qualitative interview data from 17 individuals, analyzed using a retroductive methodology to identify how each individual partner in an intimate partner relationship is affected when one or both partners have a history of trauma exposure. The following primary themes were identified: general psychological symptoms, self-esteem issues, emotional responses, cognitive symptoms, and coping resources. The strong emphasis on coping resources and the limited psychological symptoms reported by both trauma survivors and their partners provides important information to the study of traumatic stress in couples. Areas for future research and clinical implications also are identified.
- Retroductive zqualitative analysis
- Secondary traumatic stress
- Traumatic stress