Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Dr. Alissa Huth-Bocks

Second Advisor

Dr. Angela Staples

Third Advisor

Dr. Natalie Dove


During pregnancy women typically reorganize their mental representations of themselves and others to make room for the internal representation of their new child and themselves as caregivers. Representations during this transformational period have been shown to predict postnatal caregiving behavior. The purpose of this study is to assess the influence of physical and psychological intimate partner violence on maternal prenatal representations, namely, through a qualitative analysis of maternal narratives from the Working Model of the Child Interview (Zeanah & Beniot 1995), a well-established, semi-structured clinical tool. Four predominant themes emerged: helplessness, caregiving abdication, rigid attitudes and beliefs about gender roles, and incoherent, mixed themes. Overall, this thematic analysis study allowed for a better understanding about the association between partner violence and maternal representations regarding the parent-child relationship from participants' own words. Several identified themes were consistent with previous quantitative findings in the literature; other themes suggest important avenues for future research that have yet to be studied in depth.