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Mothering and trust among women living with a history of childhood violence experiences: A critical feminist narrative inquiry Open Access


Other title
vulnerable populations
health equity
recall bias/ memory
childhood violence experiences
critical feminist
social justice
narrative inquiry
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pitre, Nicole
Supervisor and department
Dr. Kaysi Eastlick Kushner (Nursing)
Dr. Kathy Hegadoren (Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Gerri Lasiuk (Nursing)
Dr. Judith Wuest (Nursing)
Dr. Kim Raine (Centre for Health Promotion, School of Public Health)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract The context of mothering is one of fluid and complex interactions between personal, historical, relational, and normative expectations. The legacy of childhood violence experiences adds another layer to this multifaceted experience. Mothering and trust among women living with the consequences of a personal history of childhood violence experiences were explored through narrative inquiry informed by the theoretical triangulation of critical, feminist, and symbolic interactionist worldviews. Twelve women were interviewed. Stories of mothering were elicited as well as stories of comfort, confidence, trust, and distrust of self and others. Women’s stories highlighted their reflexivity as well as their interactions with their children, others in their personal and extended context, expert systems, and metanarratives (ideology). Analysis and interpretation first focused on women’s stories of their personal experiences to understand the significance of persons and events on maternal choices and decisions. An examination of women’s stories of their interactions with symbolic, structural, and ideological conditions followed to highlight intersecting forces facilitating or impeding their agency as social actors. Findings revealed that women experienced pervasive self-doubt and persistent distrust of others in the exercise of maternal agency. Women managed self-doubt through a search for anchors and constant comparisons while they coped with distrust through hypervigilance and gatekeeping. Women were determined to change the story for themselves and their children through the reweaving of a self and a world while they continually searched for the safety, control, voice, and identity that were lost through childhood violence experiences. Women identified many challenging interactions with symbolic and structural systems largely due to adherence to motherhood and family ideals. Women found very few meaningful sources of support as they mothered their children. They provided several suggestions for programs to better meet their needs and minimize their experiences of stigmatization and marginalization. This paper-format dissertation includes an introduction, one paper discussing critical feminist narrative inquiry, and another addressing research design issues relevant to memory and recall conditions when studying emotionally-laden events. Two other papers highlight findings. In the conclusion, recommendations emphasize social justice through sensitive and empowering practices, research strategies to minimize vulnerability, and suggestions for future research.
License granted by Nicole Pitre ( on 2011-09-23T03:34:11Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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