Date of Award

Spring 4-11-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


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First Advisor

Donna San Antonio, EdD

Second Advisor

Sarah Schwerdel, LMHC, PhD

Third Advisor

Ellen DeVoe, LICSW, PhD


Literature on traumatic events, particularly those of a sexual nature, suggests that these events have an impact on one’s wellbeing and ability to parent. However, limited literature centers a women’s experience, with little attention focused on identity formation, the role of mothering, and healing as an outcome (Babcock et al., 2015; Clifford et al., 2020. Much extant literature focuses on predetermined themes that narrow participants’ reports and fail to capture lived experiences (Carothers Bert et al., 2009) with emphasis on significant disruptions to lives because of the traumatic event (Clifford et al., 2020). When literature considers these topics as part of understanding traumatic events, there is an opportunity to do so more robustly. In the present study, specific focus was given to understanding women’s development across time, particularly as it related to identity and healing in the mothering role, through a feminist ideology. Utilizing a narrative, semi-structured interview protocol, 10 women were asked to reflect on questions related to their identity, mothering, and healing trajectory, while connecting to their sexual assault experiences. Participant narratives included themes of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and empowered trajectories of healing and connection in the face of a violent trauma. As part of this evolution to healing, participants examined their experiences prior to and following their assault(s). Participants accessed therapeutic relationships, advocacy, and community support groups to deepen self-reflection and understanding outside of the isolated event itself.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Number of Pages