Strength in Adversity: Motherhood for Women Who Have Been Battered

Lori G. Irwin, Sally Thorne, Colleen Varcoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Research into violence against women in intimate relationships has begun to uncover women's experiences of abuse. However, there is a paucity of research addressing women's mothering experiences in the context of partner abuse. The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of motherhood from the perspective of women who have been battered. The methodology used was interpretive description, a qualitative research approach in which the women's accounts could be conceptualized as constructed narratives. Five mothers who had been battered were interviewed twice. Analysis revealed that the abuse shaped their experiences of motherhood and that they faced complex mothering challenges, but that motherhood nevertheless acted as a buffer against the abuse and as a source of strength. The findings extend our understanding of the complexities of mothering in the context of abuse and provide direction for improving health-care support for mothers who have been abused.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Nursing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Capacity building
  • Motherhood
  • Woman abuse


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