'Feeling like you're damaged and like your life is out of your control': The male perspective on living with the adult aftermath of child maltreatment

Document Type

Book Chapter


Nova Science Publishers

Place of Publication

New York, USA.


Taylor, M.F., Pooley, J.A., & Taylor, R.S.


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Taylor, M., Goddard, T. & Pooley, J.A. (2015). 'Feeling like you're damaged and like your life is out of your control': The male perspective on living with the adult aftermath of child maltreatment. In Taylor, M.F., Pooley, J.A., & Taylor, R.S.(eds.) Overcoming Domestic Violence: Creating a Dialogue around Vulnerable Populations (pp. 299-316). New York, USA. Nova Science Publishers. Available here.


This chapter documents eight male participants‘ narratives on the repercussions that their childhood experiences of maltreatment have had on their adult lives. Its core theme: Damaged lives‘ is comprised of three themes and nine subthemes. Collectively, these sub/themes provide insights into the male adult experience of trying to function in the adult world through an internal lens of having experienced maltreatment as a child. Each of these three themes is displayed in Table 1. The first theme: Adult repercussions of child maltreatment reveals that even though some participants‘ more horrific memories of their maltreatment experiences were suppressed, certain triggers (some predictable and some unpredictable) caused elements of these supressed memories to resurface. Once triggered the anguish associated with the maltreatment memory lessened their adult internal sense of control. In this regard, participants indicated that their adult feelings of being out of cognitive control allowed their former childhood emotions of shame, guilt and anger to reduce their adult sense of self-worth. The second theme: Failed interpersonal relationships, reveals that as a result of being scarred by their maltreatment adult males experienced significant sexual intimacy and communication difficulties. The third theme: Disillusionment with life details how males are conflicted by the ‗cycle of violence hypothesis‘. Specifically, because the common belief that an abused child will become an adult abuser resides ever present in the minds of adult males. Furthermore, it governs their actions to such an extent that some participants described their reluctance to have (or avoidance of) contact with young children. The chapter closes with a discussion of the harm that society‘s widely held abused-child-adult-abuser hypothesis has on the adult lives of male victims of child maltreatment.

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