Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science




Jackson, Kimberley


Mothers who have experienced gender-based violence (GBV) face physical, mental, and social health implications. Participating in artmaking has the potential to reduce these consequences. An arts-based study including in-depth interviews was conducted with 13 mothers with histories of GBV. The creative processes involved in artmaking amongst mothers with histories of GBV were explored. Mothers demonstrated using symbols, thoughtful colour selection, and choice of artistic medium when creating their artforms. Moreover, mothers’ experiences of storytelling experiences of GBV through art were examined. Mothers described using art as a means of communication, emotional processing and healing through art, and the process of concept development in artmaking. Overall, this study found that artmaking was beneficial for mothers who experienced GBV. Therefore, considerations for furthering an understanding of artmaking amongst mothers who have experienced GBV in nursing practice, education, policy, and research should be made.

Summary for Lay Audience

Gender-based violence (GBV) is human rights violation that is common in Canada. Approximately one-third of Canadian women have reported an experience of GBV in their lifetime. Gender-based violence includes acts of physical, sexual, emotional, and social violence targeted at women. Mothers can be uniquely affected by experiences of violence. However, experiences of violence and mothering are not well understood in current literature, making this an important topic to research. Gender-based violence impacts mothers’ mental, physical, and social health. Furthermore, experiences of maternal GBV can impact children’s mental health. The quality of maternal parenting received is an important protective factor for children who are exposed to GBV in their household. As such, protecting and supporting the wellbeing of mothers who have experienced GBV is important.

Novel support can be provided to mothers who have experienced GBV in the form of artmaking. Participating in creative activities such as art creation can have a positive impact on overall wellbeing. For example, research has found that when creating art, individuals are able to express themselves, experience personal growth, and process traumatic experiences. The purpose of this study was to explore the process of creating art for mothers who have experienced GBV. It was found that mothers went through various creative processes such as using symbols, thoughtful colour selection, and artistic medium choice. Mothers’ experiences of storytelling their experiences of GBV using art was also explored and found that participants used art as a means of communication, experienced emotional processing and healing, and participated in a concept development phase of artmaking. The findings from this study indicate the importance of employing arts-based activities with mothers who have experienced GBV. There is a need for further implementation of arts-based activities in nursing practice and nursing education. This suggests that further exploration of arts-based activities among mothers experiencing GBV is warranted.