Wednesday, July 11, 2007
This presentation is part of : Abuse in the Family: Proximal and Distal Effect
Verbal Abuse: A Red Flag for Violence in Women With Disabilities
Linda Carman Copel, PhD, APRN, BC, DAPA, College of Nursing, Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA

Verbal abuse has been indicated as a serious form of intimate partner
abuse experienced by both disabled and non-disabled women. There is a
dearth of research on the experience of verbal abuse endured by women
with disabilities. Verbal abuse is considered a major health risk
affecting the emotional and social well-being of all women, and it often
leads to other types of violence. This study used a qualitative research
design to address one type of partner abuse, verbal abuse, experienced
by physically disabled women. The objectives of the study were to (1)
describe the experience of verbal abuse by physically disabled women,
(2) determine if the described experiences of verbal abuse were
antecedents to other types of abuse; and (3) construct a model which
explains the experience of verbal abuse. The population was physically
disabled women over the age of 21 who had experienced verbal abuse from
an intimate partner within the past two years. A convenience sample of
24 women was recruited from women’s support groups that met in a
community mental health agency. Transcripts were analyzed using
Colaizzi’s phenomenological method. The findings include a description
of the abuse experience. The six themes, accusatory comments,
defensiveness, verbal or nonverbal responses, collision of words,
escalation, and violent outbursts were identified. The women shared
their experiences of verbal abuse, focusing on how it began, proceeded,
and terminated. A model was constructed to depict the verbal abuse
experience for women with disabilities. Further research to support or
modify the model is necessary. The proposed framework can be used to
explain and teach health care providers and women with disabilities
about verbal abuse and how it is likely to be a precursor to additional
intimate partner violence.