Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science




Jackson, Kimberley


As described in the theory of Strengthening Capacity to Limit Intrusion, mothers face numerous challenges after leaving an abusive relationship. This interpretive descriptive study explored how mothers with a history of intimate partner violence (IPV) experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve semi-structured virtual interviews were completed with mothers that had experienced IPV greater than 6 months prior to study enrollment. Mothers described experiencing structural violence during the pandemic, impacting their financial stability, access to affordable housing, and access to legal/community supports. Mothers also described the negative impact of the pandemic on their mental health, their difficulty accessing counselling services, and the challenges associated with managing an increased workload. Despite these experiences, many mothers described how their relationship with their child strengthened. Implications of this study include the need for policy changes to address the structural violence experienced by mothers with a history of IPV in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Summary for Lay Audience

In Canada, approximately 44% of women that have been in an intimate relationship have reported an experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime. Intimate partner violence may include physical, sexual, and/or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner within the context of coercive control. One group of women that are uniquely impacted by IPV are mothers; mothers must consider not only their personal safety but also the safety of their children, and the resources available to them when leaving an abusive relationship. As a result, the process of leaving is complex. Even after leaving an abusive relationship, the effects of IPV on a mother are long-lasting. Mothers may experience numerous challenges after leaving an abusive relationship, including financial insecurity, unstable housing, and harassment from an ex-partner. Many of these challenges had the potential to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic led to job loss and financial strain, taking a negative toll on the mental health of many individuals. The COVID-19 pandemic created numerous challenges for mothers, as it led to increased emergency remote learning responsibilities and challenges with juggling childcare, work, and school obligations. Based on the theory of Strengthening Capacity to Limit Intrusion, it was hypothesized that the COVID-19 pandemic may have created additional challenges for mothers that were managing in the aftermath of an abusive relationship. Mothers that had experienced IPV may have been facing financial and mental health challenges even before the pandemic, with the pandemic only worsening these challenges. However, there was a gap in the literature related to the experiences of mothers with a history of IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study was to examine how mothers with a history of IPV experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that participants experienced job loss, housing challenges, difficulty accessing legal/community supports, periods of emotional distress, challenges with accessing counselling services, and an increased workload. Despite these challenges, participants described the strengthening of family relationships that occurred during the pandemic. Participants identified the need for more equitable access to legal/community services, affordable housing, and counselling services.

Available for download on Saturday, November 30, 2024