Safety in Intimate Partnerships: The Role of Appraisals and Threat

Jason B. Whiting, Douglas B. Smith, Megan Oka, Gunnur Karakurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


For most intimate partners, safety is an important goal and basic need. How a partner perceives safety has an impact on what happens in the relationship, and this will in turn affect the responses from the other partner. Lack of safety can provoke negative emotions and actions which can lead to relationship deterioration and violence. However, little is known about this process from the insider's perspective. In this study, constructivist grounded theory methods were used to analyze interviews from individuals (n = 37) to better understand individual appraisals of relational safety. The results include a theory that illustrates the process of relational safety and threat. This model articulates how certain relational conditions precede a perception of safety or threat, which then leads to corresponding actions. Implications of the model include a focus on interaction and context when assessing for safety and abuse, as well as the importance of self regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-320
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Aggression
  • Conflict
  • Protection
  • Relationships
  • Security
  • Violence


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