Amber R. Silverwood, PsyD, is a 2023 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

Michael Sakuma, PhD, Committee Chair

Jude Bergkamp, PsyD, Committee Member

John Haroian, PhD, Committee Member


hybristophilia, incarceration, prison pen pals, prison wives

Document Type


Publication Date



Relationships with incarcerated individuals can be complex and complicated for the partner outside the prison walls. These relationships are seldom discussed and are poorly studied overall, with minimal information available about the people who start romantic relationships with people in prison. This study aimed to better understand the lived experiences of the women who engage in romantic relationships with men and specifically examined romantic relationships that started after their partner was incarcerated. The participants for this study were located on the website Reddit, in a designated subreddit for women in such relationships. In total, nine women responded and spoke candidly about their experiences and the challenges involved in their relationships. The study utilized interpretative phenomenological analysis to examine the results and established several themes to help better understand the experiences of these women. During Zoom interviews, the participants spoke about their challenges with communication and financial hardships, but the results indicate that the fear of being judged by other people keeps them from disclosing information about their relationships. In some cases, the fear of being judged by other people appears to have increased the level of isolation among this population. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Amber R. Silverwood, PsyD, 2023

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0008-5613-6747