The Treatment of Violence and Victimization in Intimate Relationships


  • The ideas presented in this essay were developed through an intensive 12-year collaboration with my close colleague and co-investigator, Gillian Walker, ACSW, who is writing a forthcoming article on more recent aspects of the work of the Gender and Violence Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. In the cases presented in this essay, Virginia Goldner was the therapist and Gillian Walker was the consultant.


This essay presents an analysis of violence in intimate life that draws on multiple theoretical perspectives. These include but are not limited to feminist theory, object relations theory, systems theory, narrative and social constructionist theory, and neurobiology. It is argued that it is possible to be effective in ending violence and abuse through a modified couples treatment format that addresses relationship issues, individual trauma, and biological vulnerability while simultaneously taking a clear, moral position that violence, abuse, and inequality are intolerable in any form.