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According to earlier research, the prevalence of violence and abuse in the life history of patients with chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia seems to be high in comparison with other pain patients and healthy controls. The purpose of the present study was to explore how experiences of violence and abuse are expressed and reflected on and how the causes and consequences of violence are interpreted by female patients with a long history of fibromyalgia. The data were drawn from narrative interviews of 11 women who had earlier participated in a fibromyalgia-specific rehabilitation course. The findings are presented through three main themes: loss of self-esteem, physical and mental bruises, and loss of womanhood. The onset of fibromyalgia was perceived as an inevitable result of physical or mental trauma. In conclusion, the narrated life stories indicated that violence is still hidden behind a wall of silence and non-interference in our society. The devastating mental and physical consequences of violence in different forms may be carried by the individual for years, even decades. Understanding any exposure to violence that a patient has endured may help healthcare professionals to understand the individual's health behaviour and any possible reluctance to undergo treatment and rehabilitation. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.