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How Childhood Abuse Affects Your Speaking Voice

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach

s a voice specialist, I have found that the sound of your speaking voice is greatly affected by your environment. While genetics is responsible for your vocal apparatus, what you actually do with your voice is influenced by what happens to you during your childhood development.

When I started my business in 1989, my first private client was a woman in her mid-30ís who sounded like a child. She was a nurse and was studying to become a doctor. When I asked her if she sounded like her mother, she immediately responded that her mother had a very deep voice and that the woman was very mean and cruel. Interestingly, her husband was verbally abusive as well which was why she was in medical school: she was planning to leave her husband and needed be able to support her 4 children.

Normally, in a nurturing and loving relationship, children will subconsciously imitate the sound of their same-sex parent.
Why did Ellen (as well as her sister) keep their childlike sound? Neither wanted to sound like their mother, the ogre. Ellen and her sister are not alone. There are many, many adults who are living with voices that were greatly affected by years of abuse incurred during their early developmental years.

Normally, in a nurturing and loving relationship, children will subconsciously imitate the sound of their same-sex parent; however, if that relationship is abusive, they will not. I have heard men who sound like women; and, in questioning them, I have discovered that they were abused by their father, thus they imitated their mothers Ė the one that nurtured. In Ellenís case, because her mother was the abuser, she retained her young-sounding voice as a defense against her mother.

Why Ellen wanted voice training, however, was because she
If you have been abused and are living with a childlike voice, there is help.
knew that her childlike voice was not conducive to the role of a doctor. She would not be taken seriously if she sounded like a 6-year-old. The benefits for Ellen, however, went far beyond her voice. In discovering her lower, richer, mature sound, she became more authoritative and started to stand up for herself. It was truly amazing to see the change in this woman.

Having worked with thousands of voices, I have found that those who are suffering from spasmodic dysphonia have also experienced abuse although this problem may not become apparent until much later in life.

If you have been abused and are living with a childlike voice; if you are man who sounds like a woman; or, if you are suffering from spasmodic dysphonia, there is help. Your first step, however, is to recognize and admit the abuse. This may be difficult for you to accept; but, change will not occur until you do. In the process, you will not only discover a better speaking voice but tremendous healing in the process.

International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website. http://www.voicedynamic.com


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