People who have suffered abuse in the past still look for, yearn for, and form relationships with other people. However, the trauma literature has suggested that trauma survivors should mainly concentrate on their own treatment with couple therapy being offered afterwards. This can leave trauma survivors and their partners with nowhere to turn to when their relationships are in distress. Researchers from the University of Ottawa looked at ten couples where one of the partners had experienced child sexual abuse and studied the effectiveness of emotionally focused therapy, a short term approach to couples therapy based on attachment theory. They found that half the couples reported clinically significant increases in trauma symptoms. However, symptoms such as affect dysregulation (inability to manage one's moods) and hypervigilance hampered people from fully engaging with the therapy.
Macintosh, Heather B. and Johnson, Susan - Emotionally focused therapy for couples and childhood sexual survivors Journal of Marital and Family Therapy July 2008, 34(3), 298-315