Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Leslee A. Fisher

Committee Members

Lars Dzikus, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Leia K. Cain


Emotional abuse is defined as “a pattern of deliberate non-contact behaviors by a person with a critical relationship that has the potential to be harmful” (Stirling & Kerr, 2008, p. 178). Specifically, in the context of sport, emotional abuse is one of the more frequently occurring forms of abuse (Kavanagh, Brown & Jones, 2017; Kirby, Greaves & Hankvisky, 2000; Wilson & Kerr, 2021). Years after the termination of those emotionally abusive experiences, athletes are left to try and cope with and manage the short and long-term impacts that tend to develop as a result of repeated exposure to harmful behaviors (Gervis & Dunn, 2004; Gervis, Rhind, & Luzar, 2016; Kerr, Wilson & Stirling, 2020; Stirling & Kerr, 2008b; Stirling & Kerr, 2013; Wilinsky & McCabe, 2021). The purpose of the current study was to explore MPCs’ past experiences of sport emotional abuse and how those past experiences have impacted them and informed their work as practicing consultants. Utilizing narrative and arts-based research, three women (Killian, Piper, and GA) participated and shared their experiences of sport emotional abuse. Each participant engaged in a series of in-depth conversations with me, someone who is also a survivor of sport emotional abuse. Killian’s story is one of resilience and the recognition that emotions are a powerful tool when we allow ourselves to acknowledge them and use them. Piper’s story is one of empowerment and what it truly means to be able to express yourself in a way that is freeing. GA’s story is one of perspective and the acknowledgement that an experience can be both hard and beautiful at the same time.

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