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The Complexity and Plurality of Maternal Experiences in the Context of Conjugal Violence

Chantal Bourassa

This study, as presented herein, deals with the complexity and plurality of the maternal experiences of women who have been the victims of spousal rape. We have used qualitative interviews of 12 New Brunswick francophone women who had experienced marital violence. The results demonstrate that despite the context of violence, these women found the strength and courage to carry out their maternal role in a sufficient manner. However, each of these mothers believe that the context of violence constituted a factor of stress as regards the exercise of her maternal role. Added to this, financial difficulties, problems of mental health and earlier violent experiences created obstacles to the fulfilment of their maternal role. Finally, weariness, frustration and the living resemblance of father and son, together with the feeling of being unable to cope with their family responsibilities were all sources of maternal ambivalence for these mothers. And, in certain cases, this ambivalence could translate into violent behaviour towards their children.