School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Laura Rolen


military, childhood abuse, maltreatment, marriage, communication, conflict management, attachment




This study utilized a qualitative, phenomenological approach to examine the lived experiences of five active-duty military-affiliated couples within which at least one partner reported a history of moderate to severe childhood maltreatment. The goal was to identify thematic constructs that revealed themselves over the course of five interviews conducted with both individuals as well as with the couple in tandem that identify long-term effects of childhood maltreatment on relational functioning with a specific focus on communication and conflict management within the relationship. Interview data combined with the completion of an attachment questionnaire identified three primary themes and one subtheme including avoidance and dissociation with a subtheme of yelling initiating emotional shut-down, toxic self-reliance, and relational insecurity. Points of intrigue were also analyzed as they emerged during the interview process, resulting in the identification of three themes and seven subthemes relating to the impact and nature of military-related stressors participants reported facing. Data gleaned from this research sought to bridge a significant gap in current literature and serve as a foundation for future research involving this population. Its findings will also better inform the development and delivery of clinical interventions for use with military couples.

Included in

Psychology Commons