Motherhood and Intimate Partner Violence in the Context of Social-Ecological Resilience

Doctoral Dissertation


Motherhood provides a key source of resilience for IPV-exposed mothers, yet most psychological research focuses on parenting deficits among IPV-exposed women. Two studies were conducted to develop the claims that Ungar’s (2012) model of social-ecological resilience provides a useful framework for understanding IPV-exposed women’s experiences of motherhood and calls upon actors in women’s social environments to support IPV-exposed mother’s resilience. Methods: Thematic analysis was used to examine parenting strengths and fears of IPV-exposed women from focus groups with IPV-exposed mothers (n=22) and service providers (n=31). Multilevel linear modeling was used to analyze the moderating influences of neighborhood factors on IPV’s effect on mother-child relationship quality in a longitudinal study of parents and adolescents (n=1,090). Results:Thematic analysis indicated that mothers emphasized their parenting strengths and the toll of abuse, while service providers emphasized parenting deficits. Both stated that mothers left partners for their children’s sakes and expressed concerns about intergenerational transmission of IPV. MLM revealed a within-person effect such that mothers reporting more IPV also reported improvement in mother-child relationship quality over time. A between-person moderating effect of neighborhood chaos indicated that IPV- exposed mothers reported worse relationship quality than non-exposed mothers when neighborhood chaos was low but no difference in relationship quality when neighborhood chaos was high. Discussion: Findings mapped robustly onto the social-ecological model of resilience. Nussbaum’s (1997) Capabilities Approach and Lederach’s (2003) Big Picture of Conflict Transformation are discussed as frameworks for translating resilience into social change, with recommendations for ways psychologists can support IPV-exposed mothers’ resilience.


Attribute NameValues
Author Kathryn Scrafford
Contributor Kathleen Bergman, Committee Member
Contributor Laura Miller-Graff, Research Director
Contributor David Hooker, Committee Member
Contributor Julie Braungart-Rieker, Committee Member
Contributor Lijuan Wang, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Psychology, Research and Experimental
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
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Defense Date
  • 2021-06-14

Submission Date 2021-07-12
  • Intimate partner violence

  • peace building

  • motherhood

  • parenting

  • conflict transformation

  • resilience

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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