Nacey, S. (submitted). Figurative production in a computer-mediated discussion forum: Metaphors about relationship abuse. In J. Barnden and A. Gargett (Eds.). Figurative Expression: Production Processes and Theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
When people undergo traumatic events, they frequently turn to metaphor in an attempt to make what might initially seem indescribable into something comprehensible to others, and/or to help themselves reach a clearer understanding of what has happened to them. This investigation explores such metaphorical language produced in computer-mediated discourse by survivors of relationship abuse to communicate about various aspects of their experience, thus shedding light on a traditionally “taboo” subject that many people find difficult to broach.
The analysis first explores the ways survivors “frame” their experience through a particular source domain, and then looks at the various source domain “scenarios” that are drawn upon to elaborate various particular salient details of the abuse. Such systematic analysis of discourse in online discussion fora highlights the ways in which relationship abuse survivors employ metaphor to discuss their experiences and feelings, and by extension, provides indications about their underlying conceptual understandings concerning what they have gone through.