Young people and young adults’ experiences with child abuse and maltreatment: Meaning making, conceptualizations, and dealing with violence
Gulbrandsen, Liv Mette
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Exploring children and young people’s own understanding of experiences with abuse and maltreatment is an important part of taking their right to participation seriously. By applying a narrative theoretical framework, this paper explores and analyzes young people’s and young adults’ stories of being the target of violence and abuse as children, and their meaning making and definition of such experiences, then and now. The overall findings show the participants’ varied and nuanced perceptions of what constitutes violence were much dependent on contextual, relational, and temporal aspects. Furthermore, many participants reported psychological and emotional abuse and neglect to be the most hurtful of their experiences of maltreatment. Finally, the analysis sheds light on how responses to abuse and maltreatment change and depend on the children and young people’s definition of their situation through time and context. The paper contributes with qualitative knowledge to the social work research and practice field, on how abuse and maltreatment unfold in and affect children and young people’s lives seen from their own points of view.