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The Search for Safety, Control, and Voice for Mothers Living With the Legacy of Childhood Violence Experiences: A Critical Feminist Narrative Inquiry

Pitre, Nicole Y. MN, RN; Kushner, Kaysi E. PhD, RN; Hegadoren, Kathy M. PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/ANS.0b013e31822723ed
Original Articles

We explored the experiences of 12 women who mothered their children while they encountered challenges stemming from the legacy of childhood violence experiences. We examined the participants' narratives through critical, feminist, and symbolic interaction lenses to locate the forces and conditions facilitating and constraining women's mothering choices and decisions. Women's stories revealed their agency in the face of enduring distrust experiences. Women were determined to “change the story.” They met pervasive self-doubt with a “search for anchors” and “constant comparisons.” Persistent distrust of others meant women relied on “hypervigilance” and “gatekeeping.” Implications for knowledge development, research, and practice are discussed.

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Correspondence: Nicole Y. Pitre, MN, RN, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, 3rd Floor Clinical Sciences Bldg, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G3 (;

This research was supported by CARNA's Doctoral President's Scholarship award, Alberta Health Services Professional Development award, the University of Alberta Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship award, and the University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing Graduate Studies awards. We thank the women who participated in this study and who so generously shared their stories with us so we could learn from true experts within these experiences.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.