Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education




Dr. Susan Rodger

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Leschied

Third Advisor

Dr. Jason Brown


The purpose of this study was to look at the presence of feelings of connection and isolation in the lives of women who have experienced violence and abuse in their lives. The women who participated in this study were students in an adult education pilot program, called Bridges, for women who have experienced violence in their intimate relationships and who do not have a high school diploma. Using the research technique photonovella, seven participants were individually interviewed using participant generated photographs to guide the interview content. Interview questions were purposefully general to minimize influencing the interview content/data results. The interviews were transcribed and, with Relational Cultural Theory as a basis, the data were analyzed using a grounded theory method. The following ten themes were identified: Mothering/Family, Bridges Program/Education, Self-Esteem/Awareness, Freedom/Control, Community/Belonging, Health (body/mind/spirit), Visibility∕Lived Experience, Negative Feelings/Avoidance, Barriers (Red Tape). The data were analyzed using the five good things model of Relational Cultural Theory (Jordin, 2002). The following “five good things” were present: zest, motivation, increased knowledge of oneself, increase in feelings of self-worth, and a desire for more connection. This research supports previous research findings that women heal through connection with others. This research also points to the important fact that women who have experienced abuse have a valuable voice from which counsellors, and other community members, can learn ways to support them and their specific needs in order to eradicate violence against women.



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