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Adult reflections on childhood verbal abuse



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The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe, with the intention of understanding, the lived experiences and meanings given to these experiences, of adult women who were verbally abused as children. Existing studies in the area of verbal abuse have often examined verbal abuse as part of psychological and/or emotional abuse or in conjunction with physical and sexual abuse. In order to more fully understand the phenomenon of childhood verbal abuse and to add to previous research, this study focused exclusively on verbal abuse using a phenomenological research approach. Three adult women who experienced childhood verbal abuse, but who are coping successfully despite negative childhood experiences, were interviewed in three separate in-depth conversations; these were augmented with observations, fieldnotes and other documents. After multiple readings of the transcripts, stories of the three women were told. Further analysis consisted of a guided existential reflection based on lived time, lived body, lived space and lived relation to aid in the process of questioning, reflecting, writing, and coming to a deeper understanding of the ways these women have experienced childhood verbal abuse. The findings from this study add to the understanding of childhood verbal abuse and perhaps will have the added benefit of bringing increased awareness of how detrimental this form of abuse can be to an individual’s self-concept. Results suggest that although verbal abuse experienced in childhood can have negative consequences, individuals can cope and survive to become stronger and more resilient. Future research focusing on the body/mind connection and age-related factors would be useful.



verbal, childhood, abuse



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


Educational Psychology and Special Education


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