While lockdown and social isolation have been effective in stemming the escalation of COVID-19 infections they have also created ideal conditions for domestic violence. Deprived of access to external support systems and unable to escape the presence of a partner, this situation favors abuse.
Practitioners can and should expect that this confronting and distressing issue will be central to the work we do with couples in the coming months.
A paper recently published in Family Process provides a useful perspective. The authors report on a meta-analysis examining 33 studies that explore the association between four different attachment styles and physical intimate partner perpetration and victimization. Results indicate that “anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and disorganized attachment styles were all significantly associated with physical IPV perpetration and victimization. Secure attachment was significantly negatively related to IPV perpetration and victimization”.
While urging caution the authors suggest that “Working toward promoting secure attachment among couples who have experienced low levels of violence and wish to stay together, individuals who have perpetrated violence but wish to change their behaviors, and individuals who have been victims of IPV and want to heal the attachment injuries they have as a result of the violence may be beneficial in preventing or reducing future violence.” Another useful lens for practitioners as we provide different but no less important lifesaving services.
Spencer, C. Keilholtz, B Stith, S (2020)The Association between Attachment Styles and Physical Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration and Victimization: A Meta-Analysis Family Process 22nd May 2020