Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Reader/Committee Chair

Heisterkamp, Brian


Using muted group theory and communication privacy management theory as the theoretical framework, a deeper examination of adults who have experienced a childhood traumatic experience who now exhibit silencing behaviors as adults will be reviewed. Adults who were victims of childhood trauma were interviewed to listen for the themes in their narratives and how they make sense of why they participate in self-silencing behaviors. For this study, I am interested in examining two main ideas revolving around the phenomena of silence: (1) how do childhood traumatic experiences affect adults; and (2) how do adults make sense of how and why they manage to disclose private information after having experienced a trauma in relation to their engagement in silencing behaviors? The three types of childhood trauma analyzed in this research include: abuse of a child; trauma in a child's household environment; and neglect of a child. Through an analysis of the three types of childhood traumatic experiences, silencing behaviors that adults currently exhibit was examined.

A narrative methodological approach was used to capture the entirety of the participants experiences with both childhood traumatic experiences, as well as self-silencing behaviors they now exhibit as adults. The purpose of using retrospective accounts is to understand what silencing behaviors participants engage in and how do they manage those silencing behaviors as adults (RQ1), as well as how silence can be characterized though a muted group theoretical lens (RQ2), followed by how can silence be characterized through a CPM theoretical lens (RQ3). The analysis of participant interviews in this study reported two major categories and nine themes relating to how participants explain and make sense of their silencing behaviors including: (1) Constructive Means of Silencing Experiences with themes of Revealing Private Information, Trust, Acceptance, and Silence as Empowerment; (2) Destructive Means of Silencing Experiences with themes of Judgement, Victim Blaming, Minimizing Trauma, and Harmful Expressions of Pain.

Included in

Communication Commons