Awareness for emotional abuse

Rachel E. Goldsmith, Jennifer J. Freyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study investigates links between emotional abuse and emotional awareness. Predictions included a positive correlation between emotional abuse and alexithymia, and that few individuals reporting emotional abuse would self-label as having been abused. Eighty participants completed anonymous, self-report surveys with symptom and trauma inventories. Participants were asked if they were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused (using the word "abused"); these questions preceded symptom and maltreatment measures. Emotional abuse and neglect were significantly positively correlated with difficulty identifying feelings, even after controlling for participants' depression, anxiety, dissociation, and lifetime trauma. Few subjects self-identified as having been "abused," even among those reporting abuse experiences. The results demonstrate a connection between emotional abuse and difficulty identifying emotions. Cognitive, therapeutic, and research implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-123
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Emotional Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • Alexithymia
  • Awareness
  • Emotional abuse
  • Emotional neglect


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