Mothers’ Experiences of Parenting Within the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: Unique Challenges and Resilience

Alison Fogarty, Hannah Woolhouse, Rebecca Giallo, Catherine Wood, Jordy Kaufman, Stephanie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal and child health are strongly linked, particularly in the presence of intimate partner violence (IPV). Women who experience IPV are at increased risk of negative physical and mental health difficulties. However, little is known about the experience of mothering within the context of IPV and what mothers perceive as contributing to resilience. This study had two aims. First, to explore women’s experience and perceived challenges associated with being a mother within the context of being in a relationship where IPV is being used. Second, to explore what mothers found helpful in coping during this experience. A nested qualitative sub-study was conducted within a prospective study of mothers during pregnancy and following the birth of their first child. Nine women who reported experiencing IPV since becoming pregnant with their first child participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews, which were then transcribed and analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three subthemes emerged within the theme of unique challenges experienced by mothers. These were partner control over parenting, other disrespectful and controlling behavior, and emotional exhaustion. Within the theme of mothers’ sense of resilience and coping, career development, making sense of experiences, focusing on children, and help-seeking played important roles in helping mothers manage these difficulties. Our findings highlighted the impact that IPV can have on the experience of mothering and the importance of prioritizing women’s health and well-being. Finally, these findings emphasize the importance of health-care professionals identifying and acknowledging the signs of IPV to support women to speak out about their experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10564-10587
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number21-22
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • health
  • intimate partner violence
  • mother
  • parenting
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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