Children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) are at increased risk of disruptions to their health and development. Few studies have explored mothers' perceptions of what helps their children cope throughout this experience.
The aim of the study was to explore mothers' perceptions of their children's resilience and coping following IPV exposure, and the strategies they have used to support their children and promote resilience.
In depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine women from the Maternal Health Study (MHS), a prospective study of women during pregnancy and following the birth of their first child. All women involved in the qualitative interviews reported experiencing IPV during their involvement in the MHS. Transcribed interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis which has a focus on how individuals make meaning of their experience.
Women discussed parenting strategies such as role modelling, stable and consistent parenting, and talking with their children about healthy relationships to promote their children's resilience. Mothers also spoke about the ways they tried to reduce their child's direct exposure to IPV, as well as reflecting on the difficulty of attending to their child emotionally when they were experiencing distress.
This study highlights that there are many strategies used by mothers who experience IPV to promote resilience and wellbeing in their children. Understanding what mothers see as useful for their children is essential in providing appropriate services to families following experiences of family violence.