An exploration of women's experiences of emotional abuse
Morse, Melissa Anne
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The purpose of this naturalistic study was to explore women’s perceptions and experiences of emotional abuse. The participants were seven women who were between the ages of 30-45 and who had experienced no or infrequent physical abuse. Using a semi-structured interview format the following issues were explored: women’s perceptions of emotional abuse, how they came to define actions as abusive, how frequently these acts occurred, and what impact these experiences had on the women and their relationships. Narrative analysis was the principal analytical strategy. The findings indicated that emotional abuse in the family of origin, emotional abuse in more than one relationship, and hasty commitment to relationships were hallmarks of women entering emotionally abusive relationships. Women’s self perception was negatively affected by the emotional abuse and made the prospect of leaving more difficult. Women’s awareness of emotional abuse often did not occur until the relationship was nearing an end. Books, friends, family, and others helped the women separate from the relationship.