The purpose of this study was to explore and describe individual perceptions, meanings, and definitions of emotional abuse through the lived experience of women who identified themselves as being emotionally abused by an intimate partner (IP). To answer the research question, What is it like to live the life of a woman who is emotionally abused by her intimate partner? A descriptive, phenomenological research design was undertaken. Unstructured individual interviews with 15 emotionally abused adult women resulted in the discovery of seven essential themes: captivity, defining moments, disassociation from self, fixing, mindful manipulation, relentless terror, and taking a stand. A combination of a hermeneutic approach and Diekelmann's approach to data analysis was used to explore differences in perceptions and develop essential themes that portrayed the essence of a woman's lived experience of being emotionally abused by her IP. The data also demonstrated that (1) IP emotional abuse has no prerequisite for partner rage or obvious emotional manipulation, (2) the absence of caring and respectful partner behaviors was just as powerful in creating an emotionally abusive experience as openly abusive behaviors, and (3) being emotionally abused was a life journey, encompassing multiple culminations, secondary physical and mental health symptoms, and quality of life issues that extended well beyond the immediate abuse experience.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Phychiatric Mental Health