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Narrating intimate partner violence : reclaiming Indigenous women's voices Vu, Chen 2017

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NARRATING INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE: RECLAIMING INDIGENOUS WOMEN'S VOICES by  Chen Vu  B.A. Hons., The University of Manitoba, 2012  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Counselling Psychology)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  October 2017  © Chen Vu, 2017 ii  Abstract Statistics Canada (2009) indicates Indigenous women are at the highest risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) as they experience it at rates three times higher than others. Research on this topic is often detached from the community, thereby, limiting women's ability to assert their voices. There also remains crucial gaps in knowledge on factors that attribute to Indigenous women ending the cycle of IPV. Thus, this research aims to create space for Indigenous women to share their stories and voice their own reflections on the process of how they ended IPV in their lives, in a way that is more empowering and meaningful. Recruitment was conducted through snowball sampling, partaking in community events, and by sending out posters and letters of invitation to organizations. Using a traditional Indigenous practice within a collaborative focus group narrative design, a sharing circle was facilitated with a group of five Indigenous women over the age of 18. In the circle women shared their stories, engaged in discussion, and participated in a oral analysis of the themes in their individual stories, as well as the collective narratives. The identification of themes by the participants themselves, allowed for the participants voices' to be expressed within the results of the research itself. Following this, a secondary six-step thematic analysis was conducted by the researcher in order to situate the data within the themes as described by the participants. All findings were reported back to participants for validity checks to ensure collaboration in all stages of the research. Results of this research will ultimately inform counselling and other professional practices as it will add to the foundation of knowledge needed in order for the resolution of IPV against Indigenous women.   iii  Lay Summary Indigenous women face intimate partner violence (IPV) at rates three times higher than others (Statistics Canada, 2009). This is a human rights crisis that needs to be resolved, as the effects of violence are grim. To learn more about what helps/hinders Indigenous women in their process of ending a violent relationship, this research focused on listening to the voices of Indigenous women as they shared their stories of how they ended IPV with  resiliency and agency. This research was conducted through a traditional sharing circle and a focus group discussion to honour Indigenous ways, while utilizing contemporary research methods. To make sure the five women's voices were not lost or filtered through the researchers, participants analyzed the data themselves and identified common themes among the narratives. A storied report of the findings was then created and sent to all women to ensure that it accurately represented their experiences and knowledge.   iv  Preface This thesis is original, independent, work by the author, Chen Vu. As a committee member, Dr. Marla Buchanan  provided methodological guidance. As a supervisor, Dr. Alanaise Goodwill provided editorial guidance and review of this thesis in addition to facilitating the sharing circle/focus group discussion and preliminary data analysis. The study was conducted in accordance with the protocol approved by the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB). Ethics Certificate number H16-03149 was issued by BREB on February 21, 2017.  A synopsis of this thesis will be published as a brief article:  Vu, C. (In press). Narrating intimate partner violence: Reclaiming Indigenous women's   voices. Canadian Psychological Association Kaleidoscope.  Preliminary results of this thesis were presented as a poster:  Vu, C. (2017). Narrating intimate partner violence: Reclaiming Indigenous women's   voices. Abstracts from the 78th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological  Association. Abstract published online and retrieved from  Convention/2017/2017%20CPA%20Convention%20Program_Abstract%20Book_V-6-6- 2017-sm2.pdf  Aspects of this thesis were presented as part of a panel session:  Goodwill, A., Vu, C., & Ravel, J. (2017). Stories as a site of knowledge for  decolonizing and reconstructing counselling interventions: Storywork with Indigenous v   counsellors and survivors of intimate partner violence. Presented at the Canadian  Counselling Psychotherapy Association Annual Conference. Abstract published online  and retrieved from ALENE-PROGRAM-MAY-8-2017-Final.pdf vi  Table of Contents  Abstract  ......................................................................................................................................... ii Lay Summary  .............................................................................................................................. iii Preface  .......................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents  ........................................................................................................................ vi List of Figures  ................................................................................................................................x Acknowledgements  ..................................................................................................................... xi Dedication  ................................................................................................................................... xii Chapter 1: Introduction  ...............................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem  ........................................................................................................... 1 Definition of IPV and Usage of Terms  ...................................................................................... 2 Rationale  .................................................................................................................................... 3 Purpose of Study and Research Questions  ................................................................................. 5 Chapter 2: Literature Review .......................................................................................................8 Prevalence  .................................................................................................................................. 8 Effects  ...................................................................................................................................... 10 Theoretical Models of Intimate Partner Violence  .................................................................... 13 Feminist theory . ................................................................................................................... 14 Colonization .......................................................................................................................... 18 Socio-ecological theory  ....................................................................................................... 23 Individual level ............................................................................................................. 23 Interpersonal level  ....................................................................................................... 24 Institutional/organizational level  ................................................................................. 24 Community level ........................................................................................................... 25 Societal level  ................................................................................................................ 26 Ending Violent Intimate Relationships ..................................................................................... 28 Barriers  ................................................................................................................................. 29 Post-separation IPV ...................................................................................................... 30 Services and Indigenous Views  ........................................................................................... 31 Therapeutic Interventions  ............................................................................................ 34 Chapter 3: Method  ......................................................................................................................38 vii  Research Framework ..................................................................................................................38 Epistemology of Social Constructionism ............................................................................. 38 Narrative Inquiry  .................................................................................................................. 41 Participatory Focus Group  ................................................................................................... 44 Indigenous Epistemology and Research Framework  ........................................................... 46 Sharing Circles  ..................................................................................................................... 49 Research Design  ....................................................................................................................... 50 Researcher's Story  .................................................................................................................... 52 Researcher Reflexivity  ............................................................................................................. 53 Researcher's Subjectivity  ......................................................................................................... 54 Procedures  ................................................................................................................................ 55 Participants  ........................................................................................................................... 55 Recruitment  .......................................................................................................................... 57 Group protocol and data collection  ...................................................................................... 59 Focus group discussion and preliminary data analysis  ........................................................ 61 Secondary data analysis  ....................................................................................................... 62 Member Checking  .................................................................................................................... 64 Ethical Considerations  ............................................................................................................. 66 Chapter 4: Findings  ....................................................................................................................68 Theme 1: Healing  ..................................................................................................................... 69 Acknowledgement of violence  ............................................................................................ 69 Self-growth  .......................................................................................................................... 72 Counselling  .......................................................................................................................... 74 Support from loved ones  ...................................................................................................... 75 Theme 2: Quality of Life  ......................................................................................................... 76 Concerned others wanting more for them  ............................................................................ 76 Wanting more for self  .......................................................................................................... 78 Purpose  ............................................................................................................................ 79 Education  ......................................................................................................................... 80 Employment ...................................................................................................................... 81 Stability  ............................................................................................................................ 81 Wanting more for their children  .......................................................................................... 83 viii  Theme 3: Cultural Connection .................................................................................................. 85 Sense of community .............................................................................................................. 85 Mutual understanding  .......................................................................................................... 87 Positive influences/supports ................................................................................................. 89 Empowerment from other stories  ......................................................................................... 90 Theme 4: Boundaries  ............................................................................................................... 91 Confidence  ........................................................................................................................... 91 Saying "No" .......................................................................................................................... 95 Confrontation  ....................................................................................................................... 97 Putting both feet down  ....................................................................................................... 100 Theme 5: Breaking the Cycle  ................................................................................................ 103 Destructive Behaviors ......................................................................................................... 104 Co-dependency ................................................................................................................ 104 Substance use and partying  ........................................................................................... 106 IPVfor self  .......................................................................................................................... 109 Violence in family of origin  ............................................................................................... 112 Intergenerational IPV .......................................................................................................... 114 Chapter 5: Discussion  ...............................................................................................................119 Implications for Theory  ......................................................................................................... 119 Congruent findings ............................................................................................................. 119 Confidence, self-worth, and identity (individual level) ................................................... 121 Historical trauma and intergenerational IPV (interpersonal level) ............................... 122 Cultural Connection (community level) .......................................................................... 124 Protective factors  ........................................................................................................... 125 Contrasting findings ............................................................................................................ 125 Social structures/organizations (institutional level) ....................................................... 125 Gender beliefs and patriarchy (societal level) ................................................................ 126 Novel contributions  ............................................................................................................ 127 Implications for Counselling Practice  .................................................................................... 129 Limitations and Future Implications ....................................................................................... 131 References  ..................................................................................................................................134 Appendix A: Recruitment Letter  ........................................................................................... 153 ix  Appendix B: Recruitment Poster  ........................................................................................... 156 Appendix C: Screening and Demographic Questions ............................................................ 157 Appendix D: Consent Form  ................................................................................................... 160 Appendix E: Group Protocol  ................................................................................................. 165 Appendix F: Confidentiality Agreement  ............................................................................... 166 Appendix G: Community Resources Sheet  ........................................................................... 167  x  List of Figures Figure 1: Thematic Mind Map .................................................................................................... 118                      xi  Acknowledgements  First and foremost I would like to acknowledge and thank all the women who participated in this study, as without their collaboration, bravery, wisdom, and knowledge, this research would not be possible. Deep gratitude is also extended to my previous supervisor Dr. Alanaise Goodwill for helping me shape this thesis in a good way, for providing moral support, and for putting in the time, effort, and resources, to facilitate the sharing circle. I also express appreciation for her willingness to continue on my research committee, regardless of her path change. I thank Dr. Marla Buchanan for stepping into the role as my supervisor during the last stage of my thesis to ensure a smooth transition, but also for all her support, knowledge, and assistance that she provided as a committee member along the way. I further appreciate the support of Dr. Jennifer Katz as my third committee member, as she provided valuable feedback and thoughtful perspectives during the beginning stages of my research. I value all the women that were involved with the making of this thesis, and I am grateful for their flexibility, commitment, and genuine warm-hearted nature, as it has made this journey easier to travel.   Special thanks to to my fellow graduate students, family, and friends who have always pushed me to continue on through hard times and to complete this research. For all of those who have supported my aspirations and educational goals, I offer you my full appreciation as I could not have made it through without each and every person who contributed to my well-being.     xii  Dedication  I would like to take this space to dedicate this work to my late father. I wish so dearly that he could have been here to witness the journey of this research, as I know he would be proud to say I struggled and triumphed through many hurdles for it to be completed. Without his spiritual support, guidance, strength, and love, I would not have accomplished this. I am forever grateful for all that he has taught me, and for shaping me into the woman  I am today. Until we meet again, rest in peace father.   Most importantly, this research is dedicated to Indigenous peoples and the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada and the world. Your lives matter and will continue to matter throughout history, as it is an injustice that will not be forgotten. I hope that this study was meaningful and that it can one day be a part of a foundation that creates more steps towards reconciliation, healing, and positive change as we move into the future.1  Chapter 1: Introduction Statement of the Problem  The phenomenon of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women is a worldwide issue that needs to be addressed as it causes serious and devastating consequences for women, families, and societies. The topic has been extensively studied among various different realms of this complex matter (i.e., etiology, effects, treatment, etc.) but despite the plethora of research on violence, there is a paucity of studies aimed to understand the complex relationship and interconnectedness of  life circumstances and IPV, particularly for Indigenous women. What has been established through literature and statistics is the fact that Indigenous women experience violence of all types at very high rates, and more so than any other ethnic race, as documented in several U.S. studies over many years (i.e., Brownridge, 2008; Oetzel & Duran, 2004). Although ethnic minority women are disproportionately affected by IPV, Indigenous women are affected at higher rates. According to Black et al.'s (2011) summary report on the U.S. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (2010), Native American/Alaska Native women reported higher prevalence rates of lifetime IPV (46%) than other minorities  African Americans  43.7%, Hispanics  37.1%, Asian or Pacific Islanders  19.6%  and Caucasian women (34.6%). In terms of Indigenous women's experiences of IPV in Canada, there is no international data on lifetime prevalence rates (Riel, 2014), however, decades of research have reported that Indigenous women are continuously victims of violence in high numbers (Brownridge, 2003; Statistics Canada, 2006; Perreault, 2011). Cohen and Maclean's (2004) study that analyzed data from the (1999) General Social Survey in Canada found that the rates of all types of violence were higher among Indigenous women than non-Indigenous women. Reported rates of any IPV for Indigenous women were 57.2% compared to 18.5% for non-Indigenous women in 2  Manitoba/Saskatchewan (p < 0.05), 56.6% and 24% in Alberta (p < 0.05), and 42.1% and 22.2% in British Columbia (p < 0.05). In Burczycka and Conroy's (2017) statistical profile, they noted that the (2014) GSS has also indicated that Indigenous women's self-reports of spousal violence were more frequent compared to other women, and that the self-report rates have remained relatively stable since 2009. Additionally, according to Gregory's (2016) Canadian Chief of Public Health Officer's Report on family violence, spousal violence for Indigenous women has not decreased over time, unlike for non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women were also more likely to report more severe types of spousal violence with more severe impacts on health than other women. Similarly, Alani (2013) reported that Indigenous women in the U.S. experience elevated rates of health problems and lower perceived overall health with less access to health care. Furthermore, among American research literature it has been reported that Indigenous women and other ethnic minorities who experience discrimination often have higher rates of: depression; anxiety; stress; suicide; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness; fear; mistrust; despair; alienation; loss of control; damaged self-esteem; addiction and violence (Kafele, 2004). Hence, the more constrained and severe life experiences that Indigenous women face, the more magnified the effects of IPV (Alani, 2013, p. 236). Definition of IPV and Usage of Terms  The term "violence" within research has been defined in a variety of ways; some researchers have used the term "women battering" typically to refer to physical violence, whereas others have used the term "domestic violence", which usually entails violence within a family unit and therefore, may exclude couples who are not co-habiting. Survivors of IPV also have differing views of what the term "violence" means. Tehee and Esqueda (2008) investigated what constituted domestic violence according to American Indian (AI) and European American 3  (EA) women and found that AI women viewed a man’s physical actions as constituting violence. That is, AI women believed the difference between an argument and domestic violence was the occurrence of physical violence, whereas EA women considered verbal and emotional abuse as violence as well. For all intents and purposes, the definition of IPV that will be utilized within this research will be the one endorsed by the World Health Organization (2013) that indicates IPV as, "behavior by an intimate partner that causes physical, sexual, or psychological harm, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors (p. vii). These controlling behaviours can include but are not limited to varying levels of: financial abuse; restriction of social and/or personal activities, free movement, employment, education, dress and personal grooming; and control over choice in child bearing and/or contraception (Allen, 2012, p. 52). Another term that must be operationally defined for clarity within this proposal is the term "Indigenous". For the purpose of this research, "Indigenous" women will include all peoples under the terms of: First Nations, Inuit, Aboriginal, Métis, Alaskan, Indian and/or Native American. These terms will be used interchangeably throughout this thesis but by no means does this research propose that all nations and/or tribes of Indigenous women are the same. The term "Indigenous" signifies a connection to land which is a primary relationship for the peoples referenced in the various ethno-political identifiers listed above. In the context of this exploratory research examining IPV, using the all encompassing title "Indigenous" is deemed to be more suitable and inclusive at this first stage of inquiry, as it will bring a together a broad collection of narratives that are specifically about the ending process of violent relationships, which is otherwise scarce to non-existent in current literature. Rationale  Intimate partner violence against minority women is a significant social problem  4  requiring urgent attention, however, there is limited literature on the leaving process of violent relationships for different racial and ethnic groups (Lacey, Saunders, & Lingling, 2011; Yoshioka, Gilbert, El-Bassel, & Baig-Amin, 2003). In particular, what has been absent in the literature is the research that explores the ending experiences of IPV for Indigenous women, despite the evidence that Indigenous women are at highest risk for IPV (Sinha, 2013). Research on the ending experiences of IPV are key to understanding the ways in which Indigenous people conceptualize this violence, as it leads to the development of a knowledge base for violence prevention and mitigation (Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015). According to Finfgeld-Connett (2015), their study to date, has been the only qualitative systematic review (QSR) that has been conducted to comprehensively understand IPV and its resolution among Indigenous peoples. They used a QSR method to bring together isolated qualitative findings and synthesized them to gain greater awareness of IPV with unique Indigenous cultural groups. Fifty-eight references were tentatively identified for inclusion and documents were excluded if they were not research reports or if they did not include qualitative findings. When this initial filtering was complete, 17 reports remained but upon closer examination, four documents were excluded because they did not qualify as qualitative research reports, and one was not topically relevant. Twelve reports remained, with the identification of one additional report that met the inclusion criteria to reach a final count of 13 reports (i.e., 12 peer-reviewed articles and one dissertation); furthermore, four investigations were conducted in Canada and the rest were carried out in the U.S. This apparent lack of attention, research, and action in regards to violence against Indigenous women has drawn national and international attention, as the severity and importance of this social issue has been exemplified with Amnesty International's (2014) declaration that missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a national human rights tragedy. Although there is a high prevalence rate of 5  IPV within Indigenous communities, Austin, Gallop, McCay, Peternelj-Taylor, and Bayer (1999) report that Indigenous people do not view violence as acceptable. Instead, both Indigenous women and men call for educating their communities (Jones, 2008) and instilling traditional values and reshaping norms in order to both heal and develop nonviolent communities (Burnette, 2013; Finfgeld-Connett, 2015; Matamonasa-Bennett, 2013). With this being said, there have been persistent requests and recommendations for research and intervention methods that "fully take into consideration the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous peoples" (Finfgeld-Connett, 2015, p. 754), in addition to them being culturally appropriate and effective (Crossland, Palmer, & Brooks, 2013; Wahab & Olson, 2004; Yuan, Belcourt-Dittloff, Schultz, Packard & Duran, 2014). Therefore, the gap in knowledge about Indigenous women's stories and experiences of IPV and the social, individual, and structural factors that contribute to Indigenous women ending the cycle of IPV should be researched and addressed. Purpose of Study and Research Questions  Although there are some studies in regards to IPV that include interviews with  Indigenous women, authors often "interpose interpretive layers between their voices and the conclusions reached" by the researchers (McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999, p. 19). Traditional research methods within this topic seem detached from the community and limit the voices of women’s experiences (McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999), as researchers pose an authoritative role in deciding what fragments of the women's spoken words are considered "knowledge". Thus, the problem with using traditional research methods with an Indigenous population is that it does not honour the women's experiences but rather it continues their history of being silenced and oppressed by dominant culture and Western society (Anderson, 2000). It is important that we hear Indigenous women's voices and listen to how they make sense of their own stories 6  particularly in the field of counselling psychology, as researchers can then appropriately situate this data in the broad context of research informed practices. Additionally, individual changes and disruptions to intergenerational cycles of violence are often precipitated by personal insight and a shift in self-definition (McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999). In fact, for many Indigenous tribes, it is believed that "exercising individual agency is an ancestral mandate according to which individual behaviors in the past and present have consequences for future generations" (as cited in Lehavot, Walters, & Simoni, 2010). Therefore, when conducting research with Indigenous peoples, especially in the case where the aim is to develop future practice, it is vital that researchers provide opportunities and space for participants to claim their voices' and knowledge, within the research itself.    Indigenous peoples, and especially Indigenous women have shown tremendous resiliency despite the various types of violence that have been committed against them, however, they are often presented to mainstream society as "the problem" (Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015), rather than a cultural group that is experiencing problems. This perspective negates the historical, sociopolitical and cultural contexts of abuse that Indigenous people as a whole have faced. Furthermore, when a racial or cultural group is predominately casted from a deficit perspective in which they are blamed for being "the problem" (Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015), it can stigmatize and further marginalize those populations (Grandbois & Sanders, 2009). As Burnette (2015c) notes, "Historical oppression and resilience are in constant tension with each other" (p. 254) yet, Indigenous women have continued to demonstrate the ability to navigate through adversity, which is ”evident in their lived experiences" (Burnette, 2013, p. 254), nonetheless, under-represented in research (2015c). Thus, there is a greater need for an empowerment based approach towards learning about IPV that focuses on Indigenous women's strengths, agency, and 7  resiliency (Yuan et al., 2014). To that end, the purpose of this research was to create space for Indigenous women to share their stories and voice their own reflections on the process of ending violent intimate partnerships, in a way that was not only more empowering but also more meaningful in learning how the cycle of  IPV can be changed for Indigenous peoples. This work served to advance knowledge concerning the ways in which Indigenous women ended their cycle of IPV, in addition to discovering how they demonstrated their resiliency and ability to hone agency in their lives. Through this, researchers can begin to address the gap in community programs or psychological interventions that need to focus on Indigenous women's needs. The aim was to articulate information and details that would be useful for safety promotion for Indigenous women, in addition to it being applicable to political, educational, and cultural activism fields. On that account, research results were intended to shape professional practices such as treatments and program evaluations in not only counselling psychology but in other related human service settings (i.e., social work; community health, justice, etc.). Examining IPV with Indigenous communities is critically important for the eventual creation and evaluation of prevention and intervention strategies that reduce the suffering of women (Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015, p. 20). Thus, this preliminary research was developed with the intention of contributing to the foundation of knowledge needed, in order for future resolution to this serious social concern. The questions that this study explored were: What can we learn from Indigenous women about the factors that contributed to their ending of violent intimate partner relationships? How do Indigenous women describe their story of ending violent intimate partner relationships? How is agency constructed in these stories that empowered the women?” 8  Chapter 2: Literature Review  Although in recent years there has been a growth in studies about IPV with Indigenous peoples, this field is still understudied. Furthermore, the literature often fails to recognize the multidimensional nature of IPV (Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015; Yuan et al., 2014) and tends to report data independent of each other (Oetzel and Duran, 2004). Thus, the purpose of this literature review is to integrate current relevant research on the prevalence, effects, and theoretical models of IPV and Indigenous women. The two most known and accepted theories on IPV against Indigenous women are feminist theory and socio-ecological theory. Both will be presented alongside the literature that describes the relationship of IPV with colonialism, as the pervasiveness of colonialism in Indigenous lives is a common factor across theories. The literature review concludes with a discussion on the barriers to seeking help and ending IPV, as well as Indigenous views on services.  Prevalence  In the U.S. approximately 42.4 million (35.6%) women experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011), while lifetime violence victimization of all types is reported by up to one half of Canadian women (Johnson, 2005). In terms of global lifetime prevalence rates, World Health Organization (2013) reported that among ever-partnered women, 30% experience physical and/or sexual violence (García-Moreno, Pallitto, Devries, Stöckl, Watts, & Abrahams, 2013). Yet, even with these terribly high prevalence rates of IPV across all women, Indigenous women are disproportionately affected as research indicates that they experience IPV at higher levels (Bohn, 2003; Brennan, 2011; Garcia-Moreno, Jansen, Ellsberg, Heise, & Watts, 2006; Lehavot et al., 2010) and that this trend has remained the same over many years. In Brownridge's (2008) study, he compared the data from 9  two reports of Statistics Canada in 1999 and 2004. The 1999 survey included a random sample of 25,876 Canadian men and women 15 years of age or older, that completed in-depth telephone interviews concerning their experiences of criminal victimization and intimate partner violence. The same survey was then administered in 2004, which resulted in a slightly smaller random sample of 23,766 of Canadian men and women 15 years of age or older. The surveys specifically focused on physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a husband or common-law partner, and was measured with a 10 behavioral item modified version of Straus's (1979) Conflict Tactics Scale. Results from both surveys showed that Indigenous women had a significantly higher prevalence of experiencing violence than non-Indigenous women. Within the five years prior to the 1999 survey, 12.6% of Indigenous women compared to 3.5% of non-Indigenous women reported having experienced violence, whereas 10.5% of Indigenous women compared to 3% of non-Indigenous women reported having experienced violence by their partner within the five years prior to the 2004 survey. Results also showed that the risk of violent victimization for Indigenous women relative to non-Indigenous women remained essentially the same across the surveys in both time frames. Statistics Canada (2009) also reported that Indigenous women experience violence at rates three times higher than other women and were much more likely to at the hands of their intimate partners. Moreover, the Canadian National Association of Friendship Centres (2010) suggested that the high rate of reporting could be due to increased severity of violence (as cited in Alani, 2013) as it is more severe violence that is likely to be reported (Johnson, 2008). For instance 54% of Indigenous women self-reported being beaten, choked, sexually assaulted, threatened, or having a gun or knife used against them in 2004, whereas compared to non-Indigenous women 37% reported the same levels of violence (Statistics Canada, 2006). Furthermore, a study by Lehavot et al. (2010) explored the effects of 10  abuse for two-spirit Indigenous women. The term "two-spirit" was adopted at the third annual spiritual gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Indigenous peoples in 1990 (Lehavot et al. (2010), and loosely translated means to have both a masculine and feminine spirit. Out of the 152 participants, 78% of the two-spirit women indicated that they had been physically assaulted, where as 85% reported being sexually assaulted. As cited in Lehavot, et al., (2010), "This prevalence is four times higher than the estimate of lifetime assault among women in the general population (20%; United Nations Children’s Fund, 1997) and approximately 50% higher than for mainly heterosexual Indigenous women (51%; Simoni et al., 2004) and mainly White lesbian and bisexual women (15 to 53%; Balsam et al., 2005)" (p. 61). Even with these known statistics, exact rates of IPV are difficult to obtain because of general underreporting. Perreault (2011) found that based on a national sample of Canada, over two thirds (69%) of women did not report the last incident of violence to police and 68% did not contact a formal service or agency for support or assistance. Thus, rates of IPV against Indigenous women are likely much higher than what is currently being reported. Effects  Intimate partner violence regardless of type or targeted population is a significant societal issue that results in adverse consequences. Physical harm resulting from IPV can range from minor injuries (i.e., being pushed, grabbed or shoved) —to more serious injuries (i.e., being kicked, bit or hit with a fist; being beaten or choked; the use of a knife or gun). Coker, Smith, Bethea, King, & McKeown's (2000) report of physical health outcomes due to IPV included: chronic pain; cardiovascular problems; gastrointestinal disorders; and neurological problems. In Lawless' (2001) book titled, "Women Escaping Violence: Empowerment through Narrative", she highlights the story of a survivor of IPV and how the simplicity of one woman's statement to her  11  partner at the time, had lead to a severe violent outcome:  I've got a scar here, right underneath my chin here [gestures to show scar]. My first    husband, I fixed him dinner one night, and I don't know why our fights were always  over dinner—I must be a bad cook, man [laughs]. We had pork chops one night, and  his pork chops had to be broiled first so they'd stay tender . . . . And I don't know what  happened, but he bit his meat and he said, 'This tastes like shit.' And the only thing   I said was, 'I did it just like I've done it every night.' And this 'other guy' came out of  him—that's when he said, it was 'the other guy'—and put a knife through my chin,  trying to cut my tongue out so I couldn't back talk him anymore. (p. 68) With this case in point, it is obvious that the effects of IPV can be physically harmful and life threatening. In many situations IPV also results in lives ending, as the most grave effect is fatality, and tragically, the number of lives lost due to IPV is alarmingly high. According to Johnson's (2006) report on the Statistics Canada Homicide Survey (2006), spousal homicide rates for Indigenous women were eight times higher than for non-Indigenous women. On some American reservations Indigenous women are murdered at 10 times more than the national average (Perrelli, 2011). Furthermore, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, 1,026 women were killed by an intimate partner in 2011.   Although physical effects of IPV are important to note, physical forms of abuse itself are not an indicator of the impact and meaning it has for the survivor (Allen, 2012). Watson and Parson's (2005) report on the National Study of Domestic Abuse in Ireland, found that emotional abuse was considered the "worst thing" by nearly half of severely abused women, even though most had also experienced physical or sexual abuse (p. 72). Similarly, in Morgan and Bjokert's 12  (2006) study, a common theme that emerged from the participant's narratives were that the women reported psychological abuse as more debilitating than physical abuse (p. 445), as one woman stated, "I mean I did actually used to say to him, 'I'd rather you'd lay me on the floor and start kicking me.' Because the mental bullying I got was so much worse" (p. 443). In Allen's (2012) book, "Narrative Therapy for Women Experiencing Domestic Violence: Supporting Women's Transitions From Abuse to Safety", which included data from 19 qualitative interviews of women who have survived IPV, several women also indicated that the emotional abuse was the "worst part". For instance, a woman stated that her husband's silent treatment was worse for her than the physical assaults (p. 48). Thus, the consequences of IPV move beyond the scope of physical harm as many women face a multitude of other deleterious effects. For instance, IPV has been associated with: depression (Campbell, 2002); anxiety; posttraumatic stress disorder (Campbell, 2002; Lafta, 2008; World Health Organization [WHO], 2008); eating and sleep disorders (Campbell, 2002; Lafta, 2008); substance abuse (Campbell, 2002; Lafta, 2008; WHO, 2008); panic disorders; poor self-esteem (Lafta, 2008), phobias; and self-harm and suicidality (Lafta, 2008; WHO, 2008). Furthermore, it has been found that the psychological impact of IPV includes higher rates of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, and suicidality for minority and Indigenous women as compared to Caucasian women who have experienced IPV (Bryant-Davis, Chung, Tillman, & Belcourt, 2009).    In cases of sexual violence, there are additional adverse physical health consequences in terms of sexual and reproductive health outcomes. As cited in Stockman et al.'s (2015) literature review on effects of IPV, forced sexual activity by an intimate partner can result in acute and chronic problems of: vaginal and anal tearing; sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain; dysmenorrhea; pelvic inflammatory disease; cervical neoplasia; sexually transmitted infections 13  including human immunodeficiency virus; unintended pregnancy; miscarriage; abortion; and decreased contraceptive use (p. 63).  Women who have experienced IPV are also likely to have increased rates of disability  preventing work (Coker et al., 2000) resulting in job instability and financial hardship (Adams, Tolman, Bybee, Sullivan & Kennedy, 2012). According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's (2003) report based on the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey, women who had experienced IPV in the U.S. lost a total of nearly eight million days of paid work annually, which is equivalent to more than 32,000 full-time jobs. Part of the reason why IPV survivors are absent from work is due to the fact that some violent partners use control tactics that limit and/or interfere with women’s efforts to seek out or sustain employment (Adams et al., 2012; Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, & Greeson, 2008). For instance, survivors of IPV have reported that their abusive partners actions made it difficult to concentrate on the job, contributed to a poor attendance record, and often caused job loss (Moe & Bell, 2004), as some violent partners would inflict physical and/or emotional pain to prevent them from working (Allen, 2012; Moe & Bell, 2004). Furthermore, according to Adams et al.'s (2012) study, IPV has detrimental effects on a woman’s job stability while the violence is occurring, but also for up to three years after the IPV has ended. Therefore, IPV has not only an immediate effect on a woman’s ability to remain employed but also long term effects as well, as it inhibits one's ability to sustain a job even after the violence ends (Adam et al., 2012). Theoretical Models of Intimate Partner Violence   The phenomenon of IPV and Indigenous women has been studied through several  different theoretical lenses among the literature. In order to effectively address the issue, it is  imperative to understand why Indigenous women are much more likely than non-Indigenous  14  women to experience violence by their partner. Often the most central question for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, counsellors, and social workers, is whether there are identifiable factors that can be reliably identified as contributing to, or even directly facilitating some individuals to abuse their partners or for individuals to become victims to abuse (Allen, 2012). However, as Allen (2012) notes, despite the importance of the question there is no consensus on one definitive answer, as there are a variety of theoretical frameworks on IPV and many are intertwined, therefore, leaving a complex web of explanations. Placing IPV within contexts for Indigenous women is of core importance as the theory that one adopts to answer this question will influence one's interventions, as well as wider legal and social sanctions (Allen, 2012). The two well-known and accepted models that are believed, on my part, to provide an overarching and encompassing framework of IPV are feminist theory and socio-ecological theory. In the following section both theories will be discussed, in addition to literature on the colonization of Indigenous people in order to highlight its relationship to IPV against Indigenous women.  Feminist theory. The feminist analysis has become one of the most important explanatory theories of IPV and so much so, that some believe an explanation on the cause of violence without the inclusion of a feminist analysis, would be deficient at the least (Allen, 2012). Within this perspective, the cause of IPV is seen to be due to the fact that men are the dominant class and women are devalued as secondary and inferior. Thus, "the socio-cultural context shapes, fosters and encourages the use of violence to maintain inequitable power relationships in all areas of women's lives and especially in the home" (Allen, 2012, p. 33). Common proverbs and quotes from around the world demonstrate the fact that patriarchal violence has been used as a means of enforcing male dominance and authority over women: (as  cited in Allen, 2012, pp. 33-34) 15   "A bride received into the home is like a horse that you have just bought, you break her in  by continually mounting her and continually beating her." (from China)  "A spaniel, a woman and a walnut tree, the more they're beaten the better they be."   (from England)     "A wife isn't a jug . . . She won't crack if you hit her ten times." (Russian proverb cited in  Lawless, 2001) These traditional "words of wisdom" highlight the evidence that patriarchal views have existed in the history of civilization across the globe (Allen, 2012; Lawless, 2001). Thus, patriarchy in the practice of manhood, owning women, having the right to discipline them, and using violence to maintain control and superiority (Wood, 2004) is a pervasive international issue. Stark (2007) suggests that these practices of coercive control are governed by traditional gender norms that confine women to powerless roles in relationships and indeed, female dominance in decision making has been found to be met with physical aggression by some partners (Allen, 2012). Furthermore, Goodman, Dutton, Vankos, and Weinfurt (2005) found that women who highly resisted against their partner's abuse were two to three times more likely to be re-abused by their partner. The authors explain these findings by hypothesizing that the increase of violence was due to the abusive partner attempting to maintain power when they felt threatened by a woman challenging their control. This patriarchal dominating behavior has also been shown to increase the likelihood of violence against women in Canada (Brownridge, 2002).  However, despite the fact that current rates of IPV are high among Indigenous women and have been for decades, IPV is said to be a "recent" phenomenon in Indigenous communities as traditionally, they did not condone such violence. Historically, Indigenous people did not view one sex as superior than the other, but rather divided labour and/or roles to whomever they saw 16  fit (Anderson, 2000). Prior to colonization, gender roles varied among Indigenous tribes and many were matriarchal/matrilineal (Bubar & Thurman, 2004; Tehee & Esqueda, 2008), therefore, women held positions and responsibilities that were highly regarded. Tribes were more egalitarian than European colonial communities because matrilineal societies promoted equality among all members of its society (Native Women's Association of Canada, 2007). Green (2010) notes, Indigenous women were to be "respected, valued, honoured and viewed as sacred human beings" (p. 801), as they were considered powerful and important pillars of the society and of families in that they provided balance, harmony, and stability (Anderson, 2000). Additionally, depending on one's tribe, Indigenous cultures provided women with the ability to have social, spiritual, and familial power; economic land and property authority; political authority; and leadership roles (Anderson, 2000). Moreover, "sexual freedom was equally accorded to men and women" within the norms and standards of one's nations (Anderson, 2000, p. 85). In a general sense, sex was accepted as natural for men and women and having control over one's own sexuality or sexual identity was not thought of as unusual or abhorrent (Anderson, 2000). Thus, although Indigenous women have now been devalued and therefore have faced decades of violence by men, this has not always been the history of Indigenous peoples. Support for this recollection of traditional respect for women was found in Tehee and Esqueda's (2008) study as they examined women's responses to how domestic violence was handled historically. The sample of participants included 20 American Indian (AI) and 20 European American (EA) women from a local community in a medium sized urban area. The tribal affiliations of the AI sample were diverse, since over ten tribes were represented within the sample. For both EA and AI groups, the mean age was 36. Interviews were conducted and two measures were also given to the women to fill out: Schwartz and Mattley's (1993) Battered Women Scale and Funk, Elliott, 17  Urman, Flores, and Mock's (1999) Attitudes Towards Violence Scale: Revised. Two raters who were blind to the hypotheses of the researchers and to the ethnicities of the participants, sorted the open ended responses into common categories. A series of Pearson Chi-Square statistics (X2 analyses) and analyses of variance were used. The results of the study showed that EA women believed their ancestors hid and silenced domestic violence by never talking about it, whereas AI women believed domestic violence did not historically occur in their community. Although it would be "inaccurate and overly simplistic" to suggest that IPV did not exist in pre-contact Indigenous societies, history has shown that Indigenous peoples had strong prohibitions against it (Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015, p. 21). Traditionally, an Indigenous women’s status and family/clan connections made community responses to IPV immediate and definitive (Tehee & Esqueda, 2008, p. 26). Divorce was not a question of difficulty in many communities when family violence occurred and in some tribes the abuser was not allowed to re-marry. Additionally, the community could retract the abuser’s honored roles/responsibilities and publicly humiliate, beat, ostracize, exile or even deem death for an abuser (Anderson, 2000; Tehee & Esqueda, 2008), therefore, IPV was "severely curtailed through actions by the victim or by the community (Tehee & Esqueda, 2008, p. 26). Thus, "The severity of these punishments indicated the severity of the taboo of violence against women in these societies" (Anderson, 2000, p. 96). It was not until the colonization of Indigenous peoples that these structural traditions and perceptions on violence and women changed. Since patriarchal domination was introduced into the Indigenous social systems after their colonization by Europeans, it is reasoned that Indigenous men engaged in patriarchal domination at higher levels as a result of losing their cultural values, identities, autonomy and dignity. Thus, "Western patriarchal family structures enabled Aboriginal men to turn their violence inward. . . . in the only arena of power 18  they were given by the colonizer: the power to dominate native women and children" (Anderson, 2000, p. 97). As one participant described in Jones' (2008) study, violence in Indigenous communities can be understood as, “anger turned inward as a result of historic trauma" (p. 115). In Matamonasa-Bennett's (2015) study on Indigenous male perspectives on IPV, participants echoed the sentiment that the reasoning behind the proliferation of violence against women within their peoples was due to the fact that colonization had drastically destroyed and replaced their traditional structures and beliefs about the roles, status, and value of women. One participant stated, "The reason we have so much domestic violence on the reservation is because of alcohol, because of sex, because of not understanding what a man and a woman’s responsibilities are . . .  The non-Indian was the cause of it" (p. 26). Hence, Brownridge (2003) argues that these "risk markers of violence" (i.e. male devaluation of women, and patriarchal domination)" do not account for the significantly higher prevalence of violence against Aboriginal women" (p. 81), especially when compared to the rates of both Caucasian women and other minority women. Thus, throughout history and research, theorists have linked the unique experience of colonization to explain why there is a disproportionate likelihood of IPV against Indigenous women (Brownridge, 2003, p. 81).  Colonization. As missionaries arrived on Indigenous land they brought with them their ideas of an old-European social hierarchy where "a woman's proper place was under the authority of her husband" (Allen, 1986, p. 38), ergo, they were "shocked by the position of Indigenous women in their respective societies" (Anderson, 2000, p. 58). It quickly became a priority for settlers to dominate the land and the people that were occupying it, and in order to make that possible they realized they needed to disempower the women (Anderson, 2000), as by doing so it would destabilize each Indigenous nation, thereby, causing their entire society to 19  crumble. Since the Indigenous ways of life and structure were "incompatible with the kind of colonial power dynamics that would be necessary to maintain colonial power" (Anderson, 2000, p. 58), the role, value, and position of women became under attack. Indigenous peoples were forced to adhere to  European legal and social policies of patriarchal male dominance and female submission. This led to the destruction of traditional egalitarian practices of Indigenous communities. As explained by Allen (1986), the forced implementation of Western European lifestyles, laws, and values left Indigenous women without the traditional inherent powers that made IPV a rare or condemned occurrence. As gender roles changed, alongside the powers that were associated with, Indigenous males became the "head of the family" and thus, were given control over their wives and children (Anderson, 2000, p. 97), thereby leaving women to become completely dependent on their husbands. Thus, as Anderson (2000) indicates, "Protection provided by extended family, clan and community systems were lost with the introduction of nuclear family models" (p. 96-97). Anderson continued on to note that with the diminishing family structure, respect for women and children vanished and men's responsibilities and beliefs changed (p. 84). Indigenous men began to operate from a patriarchal stance, as they were given a role that allowed governance over domestic matters while shielding them from public scrutiny (Fournier & Crey, 1997). This in time proved to be dangerous for Indigenous women as the degradation of their value increased violence behind closed doors. LaRocque (1994) has argued that as part of the process of colonization, “Aboriginal men have internalized White male devaluation of women” (p. 75).  Indigenous women came under the gaze of colonizers who did not see them as equals, as those men were coming from a place where women lacked status. Europeans characterized Indigenous people, and especially women as, "savage", "inferior", and "uncivilized" (Bohn, 20  1998). These stereotypes have had severe consequences for Indigenous women, as they began to be recognized as, "Indian slave," "squaw," and “prostitute-princess”. This negative female image was invented and reinforced because it was useful to the colonizer. Sexually objectifying Indigenous women yet also labelling them as dirty and evil, made them uncivilized territory to conquest and put into place (Anderson, 2000). This dichotomy of virgin-whore meant that so long as Indigenous women obeyed European laws, assimilated without defiance and dutifully served men (sexually and domestically), then they were rewarded with "princess" status. If women resisted colonization then they were "lewd and licentious" (Anderson, 2000, p. 103) "instigators of atrocities" (Carter, 1997, p. 160) among society. As traditions were lost and Indigenous men were initially forced to adhere to colonial ways, they too began to disrespect women (Anderson, 2000; Matamonasa-Bennett, 2013; 2015). Additionally, Indigenous women began to incorporate the dominant culture’s beliefs that they were of less value and thus, without having a strong representation of their own self-identity and self-worth, it lead to further victimization. As a participant in Anderson's (2000) study stated:   We questioned our self-worth as people and began to internalize the anger,  bitterness, resentment and poor self-esteem. We sought to block out the pain. This  situation was coupled  with being poor and unable to participate in the social and  cultural fabric of our community. There came a generation who had learned violence  well and practiced it as a way of life. (p. 98) Following this, Anderson (2000) expressed that:  The violence that has become 'a way of life' for many Native women has crippled their  well-being. It feeds into all the other mainstream messages about the worthlessness of    Native women and creates a vicious cycle of abuse that is passed onto future generations.  21   (p. 98) Thus, children who have witnessed or experience violence, grow into adults who abuse or accept abuse (Anderson, 2000), as they consider it the norm since it is what they have been exposed to (Dalla, Marchetti, Sechrest, & White, 2010; Matamonasa-Bennett, 2013).  Another way in which colonization has corrupted Indigenous beliefs to negatively affect their identities is through the system of residential schools. Indigenous girls were taught that the female body was a locus for shame through school policies and punishments, thus, they ingrained a sense of worthlessness and impurity through the abusive and degrading teachings about their bodies and sexuality (Anderson, 2000, p. 92). Hence, Indigenous beliefs on sexuality and a woman's sacred body were "suppressed, distorted and perverted" (Anderson, p. 92). Religion played a huge role in this as Christianity was enforced upon Indigenous people; "priests and nuns fanatically instilled the dogma that sex was the most punishable of offences" (Anderson, 2000, p. 93), and that Indigenous females were evil and dirty, yet they were also sexually abusing the children in their care. This wreaked havoc on Indigenous individuals, families and communities as women began to be repressed, exploited, violated, abused and shamed. Thus, both church and state dismantled the philosophies, practices and systems that once upheld Indigenous women's status (Anderson, 2000, p. 98).  Anderson (2000) states, "Colonization in and of itself is a violent process. It brought many untold forms of violence against the women, children and men of the Americas" (p. 97), and unfortunately, this still rings true as Indigenous people are still facing the effects of colonization as demonstrated by the epidemic rates of violence in Indigenous communities. Matamonasa-Bennett (2015) powerfully summarizes the consequences of colonial violence on  Indigenous women, in addition to the negative effects of societal violence on minority women  22  with the following statement:  Societal violence is typically carried out by those with power against those of lesser  power. As a result, norms have developed that devalue women and people of color and  often make violence toward these individuals permissible or without serious  consequences. In addition, norms of unequal gender roles, traditions of patriarchy,  chauvinism, and misogyny in society’s institutions have served to maintain  acceptance of violence against women, especially for Native women. (p. 21) Conclusively, feminist theory has strong evidence and support for their notions on the etiology of violence against women. Due to the fact that gender inequality and patriarchy is still a thriving issue in many societies across the world, it is understandable that feminist theorists believe sexist men to be the central cause of IPV. Certainly, elements of this statement are true, however, another element that is inherent of this statement and, therefore, in IPV against Indigenous women, is the fact that these enforced societal beliefs of patriarchy and misogyny are due to the colonization of Indigenous nations. Hence, it is not simply a struggle against men or individuals but rather entire systems (Anderson, 2000, p. 56) of Western hegemony and colonization. Correspondingly, Razack (1994) contends that the "continuing colonization and devastating impact of past domination are the contexts in which Aboriginal family violence should be examined" (p. 911). However, Brownridge (2003) indicates that a downfall of using colonization as an explanation for IPV against Indigenous women is that it focuses mostly on the macro level. He states, "In other words, colonization theory is not able to identify why some Aboriginal women experience violence by their partner and others do not" (p. 67). Therefore, many researchers and theorists have shifted towards more of a socio-ecological framework to fill in the gap of missing knowledge on risk markers for IPV against Indigenous women. 23   Socio-ecological theory. The socio-ecological integrated theory is considered to be the all-encompassing conceptualization of IPV as it constructs it as multifaceted phenomenon (Heise, 1998; Little & Kaufman Kantor, 2002; Oetzel & Duran, 2009) that involves an interplay of five levels: the individual, interpersonal, institutional/organizational, wider community, and society (Oetzel & Duran, 2009). It accounts for both micro and macro contexts, as well as inter- and intra-personal factors. At the individual level, one's demographics and characteristics are viewed, followed by the interpersonal level which includes developmental history, such as whether one witnessed or experienced violence, male dominance/control in one's family history, and/or martial conflict. The third level is contingent on social structures that impinge upon the individual and family such as the level of isolation and practices of specific institutions (i.e., hospitals, schools, etc.). At the community level is the historical and current relationships of members of a specific physical or social community. Lastly, the societal level entails constructions of masculinity, rigid gender roles, beliefs in ownership of women, and acceptance of physical punishment and governmental laws, policies, and statutes about violence. When all of these circumstances are considered, a clear understanding of the experience can be better achieved. A more in-depth view of the different levels of risk markers and potential additional causes of IPV are discussed below.  Individual level. Biological sex is the primary risk factor for IPV as women are five to  eight times more likely to experience IPV than men (Rennison, 2001). Statistics Canada (2009) indicated that 67,000 Aboriginal women 15 or older had self-reported violent victimization, thus age is also a risk marker. Young women are at a higher risk of abuse as about 63% of the female victims stated above were aged 15 to 34. The general literature on IPV illustrates that being unemployed is also a risk factor along with having less education (Black, Heyman, & Slep, 2001; 24  Brownridge, 2003). Lower income also reduces a woman’s access to services for IPV, especially in rural areas where transportation and phones can be limited resources, thus, living in rural areas is also a risk factor for IPV. Brownridge (2003) found that Indigenous women had 372% higher odds of violence than their urban counterparts. Additionally, alcohol dependence is an independent risk factor for both being a perpetrator (Kunitz, Levy, McCloskey, & Gabriel, 1998) and victim of IPV (Brownridge, 2003; Kunitz et al., 1998).   Interpersonal level. At the interpersonal level, history of IPV in one's origin of family is  a risk factor, as IPV also has many lasting effects on the children of IPV survivors. The American Psychological Association (APA) has reported that, "A child exposed to the father abusing the mother is at the strongest risk for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next" (APA, 1996, p. 53). Statistics have proved this to be true as between 45% and 70% of children who are exposed to domestic violence are also victims of physical abuse (Fantuzzo, & Mohr, 1999). Living common law with a partner, having a large family size and having low family stability and/or previous marriages or common law partnerships were also found to be risk markers for Indigenous populations (Brownridge, 2003).  Institutional/organizational level. The lack of infrastructure for addressing IPV is a strong risk marker for the continuation of violence. For instance, Little & Kaufman Kantor (2002) found that a lack of routine screening in health care settings resulted in an unintended consequence of continued IPV. Furthermore, when community infrastructure is poor, access to individuals and organizations who can develop and implement programming is virtually nonexistent (Oetzel & Duran, 2009, p. 55). Consequently, when communities experience fragmented and underfunded programs, it can lead to an increase in community-level stress (Reading & Wien, 2009) which may exacerbate IPV in addition to aiding the continuation of it. 25  Moreover, the unfair treatment of Indigenous people at institutional and organizational levels allows for IPV to thrive. More often than not, the police (McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999; Native Women’s Association of Canada, 1994), the courts (Department of Justice Canada, 2011, McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999) and the Canadian government in general (Assembly of First Nations, 2007; McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999) treat Indigenous people poorly, especially within the cases of IPV. These added stressors and constraining life experiences can increase the risk of a perpetrator to use violence in their partnerships, in addition to aiding the entrapment of Indigenous women in the cycle of IPV.  Community level. As discussed earlier, the historical colonization of Indigenous women has notably played a huge role in IPV. Racism, discrimination, and stereotyping of Indigenous women still exists to this current day, which only exacerbates the issue of IPV and its effects on these women. The historical process of colonization continues to have traumatic effects on Indigenous populations and this hidden collective trauma on the social community is passed down intergenerationally, as are the maladaptive behaviour patterns and coping mechanisms caused by historic trauma (Archibald, 2006).  In terms of physical community, many Indigenous communities are located in rural areas that lack resources and do not have adequate IPV services (Oetzel & Duran, 2009). Additionally, transportation is often an issue as well as communication (no phone, internet), thus, Indigenous women are often isolated from others. City dwellers more often than not ignore the issues faced by Indigenous populations who live in rural areas, as for them it is one less issue they need to worry about  that is out of sight, out of mind. Even within cities, Indigenous populations are usually contained in disadvantaged areas and are left to their own discretion. The Canadian Panel on Violence against Women (1993) reported that police services in Aboriginal communities, 26  both urban and rural, were not meeting the needs of Aboriginal women and children. An American study by the authors McEarchern,Van Winkle, and Steiner (1998) further described the isolating conditions of Navajo women that lived on a reserve with only five police officers patrolling 4,100 square miles of land. Therefore, resources were few and far between, and women could not rely on legal system support. The physical isolation of many Indigenous women places constraints on organizations to respond to IPV, while the absence of services or the inability to access them, results in repeated violence for women (Oetzel & Duran, 2009).   Societal level. The consequences for perpetrators of IPV have unfortunately been relatively minor and thus, protection for survivors of IPV is minimal (Oetzel & Duran, 2009). Even when perpetrators are convicted, the monitoring of their conditions are minimal as well and in some cases violating protection orders results in only a misdemeanor rather than a felony (Newmark, Rempel, Diffily, & Kane, 2001). With critiques of the justice system and its response to IPV, a number of policies and laws have changed. The successfulness of mandatory arrest policies were examined in Abbotsford, British Columbia, by Plecas, Segger, and Marsland (2000) and results from the study showed that of the 74 female survivors of IPV, 43% were re-assaulted within the 27 month period. The authors concluded that dispositions by peace bond, probation, jail, or fine resulted in lower levels of re-assault, whereas the staying or acquittal of charges indicated the likelihood of re-assault. Similarly, after mandatory arrest laws of the Violence Against Women Act went into effect in the U.S., the rate of IPV against females declined 53% between 1993 and 2008. The number of victims also declined from approximately 2.1 million victimizations in 1994 to around 907,000 in 2010. Additionally, between 1993 and 2007, the number of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 26% (as cited in Modi, Palmer & Armstrong, 2014). Nevertheless, more research is needed at the policy level that 27  identifies the direct relationships between laws and the occurrence of IPV (Oetzel & Duran, 2009), otherwise, there is a danger in simply relying on prevalence rates to inform the success or failure of IPV policies put in place by different societies. Since IPV is a complex phenomenon with many factors that attribute to it, it is difficult to decipher whether the patterns of offending or re-offending are due to inadequate policies or a combination of many factors such as societal beliefs on violence and gender equality.   In Tutty et al.'s (2008) literature review on justice responses to domestic violence, they found that Indigenous women's views on mandatory arrest polices varied, with some studies indicating that Indigenous women did not approve of them, whereas some women supported them,  and still others supported the policies but requested flexibility within them. For instance, in Roberts (1996) study in the Yukon, many Indigenous women did not want their spouse charged. Additionally, about half of the 47 First Nations community representatives were in favour of providing survivors more control into whether a charge should be laid. In McGillivray and Comaskey's (1999) Canadian study they interviewed 26 Indigenous women who had experienced IPV and found that many felt positively about the zero tolerance policy on partner violence. However, although many reported they wanted the police to take their partner away, not all women wanted to press charges. On another note, Indigenous women have also indicated that the police were less likely to intervene in IPV disputes (Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women report, 1993; McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999). Moreover, Indigenous women  reported that when they made frequent calls to the police, they often found that the officers would stop responding to their calls (McGillivray & Comaskey, 1999). They also noted they they experienced racist comments or actions by the police, such as the criminal justice personnel believing Indigenous women deserved the violence or that they were not smart enough to leave 28  the relationship. Furthermore, only two of the 26 women interviewed in McGillivray and Comaskey's (1999) study reported that the violence ceased after the police charged their partner. Thus, the effectiveness of these IPV policies for Indigenous women is up for debate, as further studies are needed that specifically explore Indigenous women's views on criminal justice responses to IPV.  Ending Violent Intimate Relationships  The etiology for IPV has indeed been a popular topic for researchers, but perhaps a more popular question among society is, "Why doesn’t she leave?" During a time when patriarchal values acceptably governed western society, home life was considered private life, thus, any matters in the home were private matters, including domestic abuse. Violence was not discussed outside of the home, and support was not offered to women; men within the households were given the power to govern women's choices and actions. It is deemed more understandable that during this time in history, women did not leave abusive partners, given the context of the social and political sphere surrounding the topic of IPV. This ideology began to change as the feminist movement in the nineteenth and twentieth century challenged patriarchy as unacceptable. As women began to advocate for equality among the sexes, society began to acknowledge domestic abuse as a public concern. Even though the purpose of this shift in ideology was to protect victims of IPV, there was an unintended effect of blaming them. "Why doesn't she leave?" began to be the automatic response towards partner abuse which marked a shift in perspective on the issue, as the question connotes a negative blaming stance, thereby, taking the position that woman are no longer constrained to violent relationships and thus, have freedom to leave. Staying then, turns into the idea that a woman is tolerating or contributing to the violence (Burman & Chantler, 2005). Such a framing of the question, as well as IPV itself, abstracts 29  violence from social conditions and instead turns it into a faulty psychological characteristic of the victim (Dobash & Dobash, 1992). Moreover, as the authors Burman and Chantler (2005) note, "It leads to an analysis that fails to recognize structural, material, and cultural barriers to leaving, instead favouring an individualist approach to domestic violence that is dislocated from the wider social, political, and economic contexts" (p. 62).  Barriers. As was explained within the socio-ecological theory of IPV, Indigenous women face a number of barriers in leaving a violent relationship (i.e., no/limited access to: services, legal or police support, financial means and/or housing; poverty; rural living; children/large families, safety concerns, etc.). These stressors constrain a woman's choice in seeking help, or constrain their ability to end an abusive relationship. Personal or individual reasons also exist as to why women stay in violent relationships and thus, are unable to successfully escape IPV. It has been mentioned that research shows IPV can damage a woman's self-esteem, locus of control/agency, sense of self-worth, and identity which can lead some women into thinking they are unworthy of love, or incapable of living a life that is not ridden with violence. Intergenerational IPV can also instill patterns of abuse that form negative relationship schemas that portray violence as "normal". An additional barrier that some Indigenous women may experience is based on cultural values. There is no doubt that domestic violence can disrupt wider family relationships and community, but this may be particularly felt by Indigenous women (Murray, 2008, p. 62). As Indigenous peoples way of being is relational, leaving one's partner may mean leaving their community. Furthermore, there is a possibility that an Indigenous woman would have to face ostracism or alienation from other community members (Lay, 2006), as there may be pressure to tolerate the violence so as not to shame the family or the community (Murray, 2008, p. 62). Thus, as Key Young (1998) states, an 30  Indigenous woman may feel like she "is not only losing her family, but she is walking away from her whole culture" (p. 73). Hence, Indigenous women are caught between a range of barriers that may intersect to only further exacerbate their difficulty in ending an abusive relationship. Therefore, culturally sensitive and/or specific research interventions and policies are needed when looking at factors that help end IPV for Indigenous women.  Post-separation IPV. It is known that literature on IPV with Indigenous women is limited, however, it is even more scarce on post-separation intimate partner violence (PSIPV). From available studies, it is known that women can be especially vulnerable to PSIPV, because men may double their efforts to maintain control, and once again research shows that Indigenous women are the most vulnerable to experiencing this violence. Spiwak & Brownridge's (2005) Canadian study examined rates of physical and sexual PSIPV among separated women. They looked at Aboriginal status among other risk markers of PSIPV and found that Aboriginal women often reported more violence by an ex-partner than other women in the study in the 12 months preceding the interview. In the first national level study to examine Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal inequalities in PSIPV against Canadian women, Pedersen, Malcoe, and Pulkingham (2013) analyzed data that focused on criminal victimization and IPV from the (2004) GSS conducted by Statistics Canada. The data included all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal females 15 years or older who reported having been previously married or in a common-law relationship and had either violent sexual and/or physical contact with their ex-partner within 5 years of the survey interview. The final study population consisted of 125 Aboriginal and 2,230 non-Aboriginal women (2,355), however, it is important to note that residents of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut were excluded. The number of Aboriginal versus non-Aboriginal women in the study were highly disproportionate, yet the findings demonstrated that 31  during the five years preceding the interview Aboriginal women had 4.12 higher odds of experiencing PSIPV and that coercive control and age explained much of the inequality between the odds for the two groups. Therefore, even with such a small ratio of Aboriginal women being compared to a non-Aboriginal population, rates of PSIPV are extremely high. Albeit, the odds of PSIPV could be exponentially higher if the three regions that were excluded were a part of the data, as these regions are where the highest number of Indigenous people live. Furthermore, Pedersen et al. (2013) found that IPV worsened in the post-separation period, therefore, it became more difficult for Indigenous women to end IPV after separation. Thus, asking the question, "What services do Indigenous women need to assist them in ending IPV in their lives?" is a more appropriate response to IPV, rather than asking, "Why doesn't she leave?"  Services and Indigenous Views. Challenging past and ongoing colonialism, and the associated negative consequences, is important in addressing IPV and PSIPV against Indigenous women (Pedersen et al., 2013, p. 1055). At a macro level, it is vital to create culturally sensitive policies and services that recognize and address the issues that Indigenous women historically and  presently face in society (Lacey et al., 2011, p. 1051). Government, judicial systems, hospitals, and any other social structures that impinge upon the individual and family, must discontinue being a perpetrator of societal violence. Due to the fact that a lot of Indigenous women do not report or seek assistance for IPV because of potential fear of discrimination, indifference, or re-victimization, services that are available may be of no relief. Instead of social structures upholding a victim blaming stance, they must shift towards an empowerment based perspective, to recognize the resilience of Indigenous women who have endured IPV (Lacey et al., 2011; Yuan et al., 2014). Additionally, the oppressive, racist, patriarchal, and sexist beliefs against Indigenous women will need to be dismantled in order to make a lasting difference in the 32  changes in policies and interventions for IPV. Pedersen et al. (2013) indicated that policy efforts must be guided and created with the collaboration of Indigenous people to reflect their "rights, interests, knowledge, traditions, and beliefs" (Reading, Kmetic, & Gideon, 2007, p. 26) as well as their needs. Furthermore, ensuring access to helpful resources and services that support Indigenous women is essential in resisting against IPV. Specific examples of services that women would need while in the process of  ending a violent intimate relationship would be: a safe place to live such as shelters for immediate crises and affordable supportive housing for transitional or longer term living; public income support (Pedersen et al., 2013); job and education training/opportunities; childcare; and social and emotional support (Anderson & Saunders, 2003). Social and emotional support services that provide resources, life skills workshops and a safe place to hone internal resources (i.e., building up sense of mastery, self-worth, confidence, agency, etc.) are important for women in order to enhance their capacity for resilience and growth at a time when they are quite vulnerable (Anderson & Saunders, 2003).   A sense of belonging represented by a strong positive attachment to community, is also an important factor in both helping to prevent IPV and in dealing with the effects of it. DePrince, Labus, Belknap, Buckingham, and Gover (2012) found that community-based outreach programs were almost three times more effective than criminal justice participation for ethnic minority women in decreasing fear of seeking help. Moreover, Indigenous males who have been violent with their partners agree that creating interventions through a sense of community is the way to ameliorate this issue of unhelpful policies and services for IPV. One male in Matamonasa-Bennett's (2013) study states, "It has to be something else that’s going to stop that behavior. And again, it’s people not tolerating that in your community—that’s going to alter that behavior. Not jail. Jail might exacerbate that [the violence]" (p. 43). Greenfield and Marks' (2010) study also 33  provided evidence that a sense of community can protect against some of the long term mental health issues that cause adult psychological distress, for those that have experienced childhood family violence. Furthermore, Hobfoll et al.'s (2002) study on Indigenous women and the impact of communal-mastery showed that individuals with strong attachments to their community derived a sense of being able to overcome stressful conditions because they perceived themselves as part of a cohesive social network. Historically, the sense of community for Indigenous peoples has been stripped away due to colonization, residential schools, and foster homes, in which families and communities were physically torn apart as children were forcibly removed from their family units and tribes. Thus, grounding in community is especially important for Indigenous peoples because it offers "a place to heal and build alternatives" (Anderson, 2000, p. 124). More specifically, it has also been expressed that the structure within a community, such as its values and beliefs, needs rebuilding and strengthening. Elder Wa-Ni in Matamonasa-Bennett's (2013) study emphasized traditional values of respect, balance, and harmony as key to dealing with IPV, but he noted that they have been missing in Indigenous communities. When asked what could be done to prevent IPV he states, "By teaching about how to be true [Great Lakes tribal people] . . . going back to being more human beings. You know it all starts with spirituality and connection to the earth and your family members—what’s slowly eroded away here" (p. 43). Across the sample of Indigenous men in the study who had engaged in IPV, the sentiment expressed was that treating domestic violence needed to be done through sobriety and that it had to happen from within the community by returning to traditional values, rather than involving outside (non-Indigenous) help and professionals. Thus, this exemplifies the point that Indigenous communities need to unite and rebuild their sense of a collective group and identity. However, that is not to say that non-Indigenous people cannot provide assistance, but it 34  does point out that culturally sensitive interventions, practice and competence are essential in working with Indigenous people (Howell-Jones, 2008). Narrative analysis of interviews in Howell-Jones' (2008) study with seven Aboriginal mental health clients who believed they had a positive counselling experience with non-Aboriginal counsellors produced findings that suggested themes of: connection; belonging; harmony; integration of traditional Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practice and beliefs; self-acceptance; understanding; and balance, as critical to feeling supported in therapy. The defining characteristic of a successful counselling experience according to the participants, was the capacity of the counselling relationship to discover the client’s clarity on how Aboriginality was meaningfully and uniquely understood (Howell-Jones, 2008).  Therapeutic Interventions. Mental health interventions typically reflect Western values of individualism and autonomy, whereas traditional Indigenous values are embedded in a relational paradigm (Kirmayer, Brass, & Tait, 2000) that adopt a collective approach. Indigenous belief systems also reflect a holistic understanding of human nature (Smye & Mussell, 2001), in which they incorporate spirituality as a part of life and healing. Thus, embracing traditional and holistic approaches to counselling are vital for cultural competency in working with Indigenous peoples. For instance, the gathering of Indigenous peoples for traditional ceremonies and practices can bring great strength for one's self and one's culture. Sweat lodges, storytelling, and talking/healing circles help Indigenous peoples build a sense of community and identity because sharing stories is an empowering activity that gives voice to an individual's unedited version of their history and experience. One participant in Bubar and Thurman's (2004) roundtable discussion on violence against Native women stated, "When Native women speak their truth, they are strong and their voices become a powerful force, even in a community steeped in 35  denial" (p. 80). Hence, there is "a strong sense of community among women who support one another. Aboriginal women find a lot of strength and inspiration in the company of other women" (Anderson, 2000, p. 126). Providing a space for Indigenous women to carry on their traditions is beneficial and this can be carried out in a community context or in individual interventions such as counselling. For instance, the Native American Health Center integrated cultural healing and clinical care to bring together the strengths of traditional healing approaches, clinical psychotherapy, and evidence-based substance abuse treatment models for Indigenous people struggling with substance abuse and violence (Saylors & Daliparthy, 2006). Additionally, in Riel et al.'s (2014) study, service providers in the field of IPV who had experience working with Indigenous clients, identified the need for Elders to be involved in counselling as appropriate, when dealing with couples and violence. As elders have prominent and respected roles in their communities, "the respect for knowledge held by an elder can have a very powerful effect" (Riel et al., p. 494) in therapy. Furthermore, the wisdom provided through an elder’s leadership can contribute to change that has meaning and significance to the individual(s) and the community in which they reside (Riel et al., 2014, p. 494). Indigenous healing is rooted in the idea of bringing together a community to enable growth and change (Howell-Jones, 2007), thus, recommendations around mental health support the use of the community, family, elders, chiefs and councils in treatment (Smye & Mussell, 2001).  Other therapeutic approaches that use a systemic lens in viewing client concerns can also reflect traditional Indigenous values and provide understanding for Indigenous people's life circumstances, because they address the interconnectedness of experiences. The family systems theory posits that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another, but rather as a part of their family (Bowen, 1978), which reflects Indigenous beliefs that define the self as 36  relational. This is especially important for Indigenous individuals who view extended family and community as integral parts of their lives (Stewart, 2009). Feminist therapy focuses on the interconnectedness of societal, cultural, and political causes and solutions to issues, hence, it addresses the oppression and colonization that Indigenous women have experienced historically and in present day (Malone, 2000). Furthermore, "feminist counselling also recognizes and promotes open discussion of the power difference that exists between the counsellor and client" (Malone, 2000, p. 35), and views the client as the expert in their life, which is essential for the empowerment of Indigenous women. Narrative therapy is also considered an acceptable approach to counselling with Indigenous peoples because, it posits that identity is created by the dominant stories we tell others or ourselves about our lives. That is, one's truth can be created within the social, cultural, and political contexts that they are embedded in. As it is traditionally part of Indigenous culture to express identities through generations of oral story-telling (Trimble & Medicine, 1993), this counselling orientation is fitting with Indigenous ways of knowing and being (Stewart, 2009). Narrative therapies help individuals narrate and integrate their relational experiences and their selves, while recognizing that dominant stories told and ingrained by society can be oppressive and hurtful (Payne, 2006). This approach is a non-pathologizing, collaborative, and strength-based intervention that focuses not on the victimization of the person but on how the individual responded to and survived unpleasant events, and how they in turn constructed meaning from their experiences. The narrative therapist holds the notion that being heard, believed, and validated is the most powerful aspect of the therapy process as it allows the externalization of a problem (White & Epston, 1990). Clients can then begin to see themselves as separate from the labels that are used upon them as oppressive identifiers by society and themselves (White & Epston, 1990), and thus, make new meanings for their experiences, while 37  building upon self-worth and a re-definition of self (Allen, 2012). As Indigenous women have an extensive history of being repressed, narrative therapy provides a space to resist disempowerment, and reconstruct identity that has otherwise been lost due to colonization, racism, and sexism.   38  Chapter 3: Method Research Framework  This qualitative study exploring the stories of Indigenous women who have ended IPV in their lives, is rooted in the epistemology of social constructionism and grounded in narrative inquiry methods, in addition to being situated within Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. In order to honour the empowerment of Indigenous people and their culture, I incorporated the use of a sharing circle, while also adopting a collaborative-participatory research group approach. This was conducted in order to explore the dynamic and continuous dialogical construction and re-construction of the meanings and experiences of ending the cycle of IPV. Furthermore, by using a focus group data generation technique, I attempted to gather the collective voices of the Indigenous women as they engaged in inter-and intra-personal discourse, which would otherwise be missed with individual narrative interviews. This chapter will begin with the epistemology of social constructionism and narrative inquiry, followed by collaborative/participatory focus group approaches to research and an overview on Indigenous knowledge and sharing circles. The research design will then be situated in context with my research topic to explain and provide a rationale for the methodology. To conclude, there will be a discussion on my researcher role, reflexivity, and subjectivity, in addition to the procedures of the study and the ethical considerations of this research.  Epistemology of Social Constructionism. The ontology of social constructionism is based on the concept of relativism as it recognizes that multiple realities exist. It is rooted in anti-essentialism and anti-realism as constructivists contend that there is no such thing as a single "truth", or an objectifiable "reality" and thus, there cannot be a given, determined nature or "essence" of an individual, the world and/or the people in it (Burr, 1995). They challenge the 39  view that knowledge of the ultimate truth can be discovered by objective, unbiased observations of the world (Burr, 1995, p. 2). Instead, social constructivists posit that knowing and understanding are context dependent and thus, are influenced by a host of individual, relational, temporal, cultural, and socio-historical factors (Burr, 1995; Gergen, 1999). Therefore, knowledge is not seen as a direct perception of reality, but rather multiple realities can exist at any point in time as people construct and re-construct their own reality in relation with others as they see fit. As Spivey (1997) notes, "Constructivists view people as constructive agents and view the phenomenon of interest (meaning or knowledge) as built instead of passively 'received' by people" (p. 3). The "truth" then, is created by socially negotiated "truths" (Gergen, 1999), therefore, acceptability or rejection of any "truth" depends on a person(s) willingness to support the view. Knowledge then, is not viewed as something that we have or do not have, or something waiting to be discovered, but as something that people do together (Burr, 1995, p. 6). Thus, social interactions between people produce knowledge and the world gets constructed through the language exchanged between a social group at a culturally and historically specific time (Burr, 1995). As knowledge is sustained by social processes that are accompanied by social actions (Young & Collins, 2004), the use of language can be thought of as a form of action itself (Burr, 1995). Heavy emphasis is placed on the performative aspect of language, otherwise known as discourse, as social constructionists regard the proper focus of enquiry should be on the interactive processes that occur between people, and how these discourses function within social relationships and society (Burr, 1995). Language is seen to be a precondition of thought thereby creating reality, rather than mirroring it (Burr, 1995; Gergen, 1999), however, the nature of the world is often experienced as if it is pre-given and fixed because as Burr (1995) states, "We are born into a world where the conceptual frameworks and categories used by the people in 40  our culture already exist" (p. 5). This is also the case for the way we view ourselves, as traditional notions of personality are based upon essentialist beliefs that bid us to think of ourselves as having a particular nature that is stable, consistent, and fairly fixed as a result of either biology or environment (Burr, 1995). Social constructivists reject both of these positions as they see people to be products of social encounters and relationships, thus, identity is socially constructed and known to be fluid, rather than stable or pre-determined due to physical or social environments (Burr, 1995). Engaging in discourse through language is to take action towards the construction of ourselves, our world, and how we are situated in it, hence, social processes create systems of representation that we use to experience a sense of self or identity (Burr, 1995). Since meanings are constantly being negotiated and co-constructed in relationships, the sense of self can also change depending on where discourse practices are contextualized that is, spatially, socially, culturally and historically (Burr, 1995; Gergen, 1999).   Transforming social life depends upon the willingness of a group to generate identity and meaning collectively (Gergen, 1999). From a social constructionist point of view, rules and norms of a culture do not cause behaviour, but rather they initiate actions from those that make sense of the contextualized language and discourse (Moghaddam, Erneling, Montero, & Lee, 2007). When marginalized groups are labeled through language as the source of a problem, externalizing this constructed discourse can separate problems from people (Morgan, 2000). Externalization, which is a process of constructing a new narrative, places the problem at hand as a result of the dominant story of the culture and society within which the target is situated, rather than being incorporated into a version of a "truth" by the person themselves (Polkinghorne, 1988). This process of extracting and rewriting the story highlights the power play with dominant and alternative discourses. People experience the effects of power through the 41  normalizing of “truths", in turn, these “truths” then construct the power that shapes lives and relationships (Foucault, as cited in White & Epston, 1990). Within society the struggle for power becomes a battle of voice, as minority groups are silenced while dominant groups share constructed "truths" and knowledge that benefit relevant social groups, while disadvantaging the less empowered. Social constructionism is a theoretical perspective that posits human experience and identity as built through socially constructed processes which can be re-constructed and negotiated through dialogical knowing (Burr, 1995) whether in everyday social interaction, or through research methods such as narrative inquiry. Since meaning of self and world is constructed through engaging in social interchange, people as active agents can be reflexive and dynamic in the reciprocal process of co-constructing self and others through the narratives they tell and share, thereby shifting dominant discourses and creating new knowledge, meanings and identities.  Narrative Inquiry. The term "narrative" comes from the verb to "narrate" or in other words, to tell a story in detail (Ehrlich, Flexner, Carruth & Hawkins, 1980), therefore, the whole premise of narrative research is to inquire about peoples' stories, that is, their lived experiences. Narrative researchers are witnesses to the testimonials of others (Iseke, 2011) as they listen to, collect, make sense of, and interpret a person(s)’ truth. They are also agents, as their role is to then re-story the life experiences of those they are seeking to learn from, and extend this knowledge to a greater whole. To tell a story means to bring voice to experiences, and to write a narrative is to place the voiced experience onto paper in written word. Storytelling is a natural part of life and is an everyday act (Riessman, 2008), ranging from minute stories such as how our day was, to meaningful stories such as life changing moments. As Riessman (2008) notes, "Narratives are event-centered—depicting human action—and they are experience-centered" (p. 42  22), because "they do not merely describe what someone does in the world but what the world does to that someone" (Mattingly, 1998, p. 8), for instance, events that happened to an individual whether they were willed or unwished for (Mattingly, 1998). Furthermore, they allow us to infer something about what it feels like to be in the world of the storyteller and thus, "narratives do not merely refer to past experience but create present experiences for their audiences as well" (Mattingly, 1998, p. 8). On another level, narratives can also create a new experience for the storyteller, as they can become a witness to oneself in his or her own recollection(s) of an event(s), and/or they can become a witness to the receiver's experience of their story, which in turn can form into a new narrative for the individual in and of itself (Iseke, 2011).  Sharing stories with others, especially about difficult times, helps to create order in our life by containing our emotions and placing them in context, thereby allowing us to make meaning of events (Riessman, 2008, p. 10). Subsequently, we form connection with others as we invite them to experience how our world is, in terms of how we know or feel it to be. Narrative  epistemology is rooted in the notion that we make ourselves and others, known through the stories we construct, thus, by telling a story we construct an identity for our self and/or another (Polkinghorne, 1988). Thus, narratives provide a lens through which we can discover and negotiate the evolving meaning of our lives (Polkinghorne, 1988). As the process of life is always unfolding, our truths can be ever changing as we negotiate with ourselves and others about what we choose to accept as part of our narrative, and what we choose to discard, or perhaps alter. Given that we can create new understandings and thereby new possibilities, we continuously have the potential to author new realities. "The way we story our lives directly affects the way we understand ourselves; the way we understand ourselves directly affects the way we act; and the way we act directly affects the way the world is" (Randall, 1955, p. 9). 43  Therefore, one's truth is seen to be subjective, as one can live in multiple realities as they construct and re-construct different versions of themselves in the world.  Narratives reflect not only individual experiences in the world, but also social and  cultural discourses (Burr, 1995). As people construct stories of experience and identity, groups, communities, nations, governments, and organizations also construct preferred narratives about themselves (Riessman, 2008, p. 7). In terms of a social constructionist view, social practices endlessly construct our sense of the world as we are in constant cyclical exchange with other social actors (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). These constructions then form into a shared understanding of culture that becomes institutionalized at the societal level. Cultural narratives provide identity scripts that foster a sense of belonging and form a collective identity, if one should choose to follow the discourses that one is embedded in. Hence, one's personal story becomes "a tool for organizing and mobilizing identity groups" (Riessman, 2008, p. 10). As cited in Riesmsman (2008), "The social role of stories and how they are connected to power in the wider world, is an important facet of narrative theory" (p. 8), as an individual's co-constructed personal and social biography connotes their social status. Marginalized groups are often silenced and stripped of their voices in order to sustain power differentials. The aim of the dominant group is to keep the disempowered isolated, as the power of storytelling can "mobilize others into action for progressive social change" (Riesssman, 2008, p. 9). When people share stories and connect through their commonalities it creates group cohesion and this can set the stage for collective action (Riesssman, 2008). Burr (2015) notes that Foucault proposed change is possible through the opening of marginalized and repressed discourses, as providing space for alternative narratives, allows for the ability to fashion alternative identities (p. 61). 44   Participatory Focus Group. Within qualitative social research, participatory approaches have gained an increasing importance as a research method (Bergold, 2007; Bergold & Thomas, 2012), especially when combined with action research. Often times, when reference is made towards participatory research strategies, is it embedded within the method of action research; however, there is an identifiable difference between the two approaches and they can be conducted separately (Bergold & Thomas, 2012). Participatory research "shifts the emphasis from action and change, to collaborative research activities" (Bergold & Thomas, 2012, p. 195), thus, the aim is rather to produce knowledge in collaboration between the researcher(s) and the subject(s) at hand. What is meant by a participatory approach in this study,  is that it is a research style, "an orientation to inquiry" (Reason & Bradbury, 2008), that highlights the significance of the involvement of research participants in the constructing process of knowledge (Bergold, 2007). As Bergold and Thomas (2012) indicate, "Participatory research approaches are geared towards planning and conducting the research process with those whose life-world and meaningful actions are under study (p. 192). Consequently, perspectives are co-constructed and research results are collaboratively developed with the result being that both sides benefit from the research process (Bergold & Thomas, 2012). Participants become co-researchers as they provide their expertise and knowledge about the topic being studied, while on the other hand, they are also the subject of study, especially towards themselves. As participatory research provides members of marginalized groups an opportunity to use their voice, or gives them a platform where their voices can be heard, it also enables them to step back and reflect on what it is that they are sharing and the meaning of it for them and the greater population (Bergold & Thomas, 2012). When they recount their experiences, knowledge, and narratives, as part of the research process, they also gain or develop new interpretations, perspectives and insights on 45  themselves and the topic being explored (Bergold & Thomas, 2012; Dickson & Green, 2001), thus, the co-researcher role also becomes a transformative participant role.    Morgan (2002) indicates that there are two types of focus groups: a structured approach (utilized more in market research); and a less rigid and structured approach (used within the social sciences). As this research stems from a narrative approach on the topic of IPV, the focus group will be of the latter type. The primary aim of a focus group in qualitative research is to gain knowledge on a specific topic from the descriptions, perspectives, interpretations, and dialogue of the participants in the study (Liamputtong, 2011). According to Liamputtong (2011) a focus group typically involves a moderator plus a group of six to eight people that have similar backgrounds, experiences, or concerns, and they are gathered together in a setting where people feel comfortable enough to openly share and discuss with others for one to two hours. As group members engage in discussion, a negotiation of meanings through intra- and inter-personal debates occurs (Cook & Crang, 1995; Liamputtong, 2011). The unique aspect of focus group methodology is that group interactions are treated explicitly as research data (Ivanoff & Hultberg, 2006; Kitzinger, 1994) in addition to the individual accounts that are shared. Discussion that occurs within a focus group provides the researchers with an opportunity to hear insights that would not otherwise emerge without the dynamics of group talk. Therefore, focus groups allow access to data that would be missed with typical interview methods that are conducted with the researcher alone (Liamputtong, 2011). Focus groups also allow for the researcher to witness the experiences of the participants, as knowledge is constructed and co-constructed with others in live time (Liamputtong, 2011).   Since it is essential that participatory research is based on the voices of those participating, focus groups are often used as a basis for empowering those that are marginalized 46  (Liamputtong, 2011). A focus group method operates from a power-sensitive perspective (Wilkinson, 2004), as the dynamics of a focus group shifts the power imbalance between the traditional authoritative researcher and the submissive participant. Focus groups create data from multiple people, thus, "multiple voices" (Madriz, 2003), and each person within their own right, is an expert voice on the topic at hand. Focus groups are also suitable for examining sensitive issues in research, as people may feel more inclined to share when they see that others have similar views or experiences (Liamputtong, 2011), that is, they are able to have "collective conversations" (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2008) which bring a sense of unity and belonging.  Indigenous Epistemology and Research Framework. Indigenous ways of knowing encompass three processes as described by Castellano (2000): empirical observation, traditional teachings, and revelation. Empirical knowledge is said to come from the observation of one's environment. That is, it is a representation of "converging perspectives from different vantage points over time” of people's real life experiences, or in some instances spiritual knowledge of human nature or one's environment (Restoule, 2004, p. 24), which is a stark contrast compared to the Western definition of "empirical observation" within controlled labs. Traditional Indigenous knowledge encompasses teachings that have been passed down through generations, which include creation stories, clan stories and genealogies, oral histories, teachings and technologies (Restoule, 2004). Whereas, knowledge acquired through revelation is described as information gained from dreams, visions, and intuition. Often times Indigenous knowledge cannot be quantified or measured but all three sources are considered equally valid and important (Lavallée, 2009). Indigenous knowledge (IK) is different among different nations, but some common characteristics among different Indigenous cultural groups are that IK is considered personal, oral, experiential, and holistic and often expressed through narrative language 47  (Castellano, 2000). Furthermore, Indigenous epistemology acknowledges the interconnectedness of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms of individuals with all living things (Lavallée, 2009), and it is fluid, nonlinear (Kovach, 2005), and non-objective. The idea that Indigenous knowledge is non-objective is similar to the qualitative research notion that no research is unbiased. However, although similar, Indigenous epistemology is grounded from the belief that because there is interconnectedness among humans and living things, research cannot possibly be objective, as the researcher will always be connected to their participant or subject (Lavallée, 2009).   Another aspect of IK is that personal experience is considered to be the root of  knowledge and no claims are made to universality (Castellano, 2000). This is similar to the beliefs of social constructionsim which postulates there is no single "truth". In terms of Indigenous knowledge being oral, it can also be described as relational, in that the oral tradition depends on relationships (Castellano, 2000). Likewise, social constuctionism posits that oral exchange between people produce knowledge and thus, knowledge depends on dialogue within the relationships of people. Another similarity between the epistemology of narrative inquiry and Indigenous knowledge is the notion that we form connection with others so as to help them understand our experiences. Indigenous beliefs are of the notion that we learn of another through the stories that one tells and the connections that it then creates, as Restoule (2004) remarks, "Although we can never know another's experiences we can learn from them. That is why stories are told" (p. 65). Furthermore, Indigenous epistemology posits that "the story of one cannot be understood outside of the story of the whole" (Lavallée, 2009, p. 24). In a sense this is close to how social constructionists believe that culture itself is constructed by the many narratives of the people and systems that it is made of, and that to understand the identity of one is to understand 48  that they are embedded in the context of culture and society as a whole. Cruikshank (1998) states that Indigenous ways of learning also grounds its roots in the idea that:  Meaning does not inhere in events but involves weaving those events into stories that are meaningful at the time. Events, after all, are stories known directly only to those who experience them and interpret them to others, who in turn make their own interpretations of what they hear. (p. 2) Thus, like narrative inquiry postulates, it is not the events themselves that have meaning, but  rather the meaning is assigned to the events by an individual when they create a story out of it.  Furthermore, these stories can be interpreted to have different meanings by others, in addition to  the fact that one can also create different or multiple meanings for events at any given time. This is complementary to the beliefs of IK in that, "what appears to be the 'same' story, even in the repertoire of one individual, has multiple meanings depending on location, circumstance, audience, and stage of life of narrator and listener" (Cruikshank, 1998, pp. 43-44). As explained by Iseke (2011), sharing a story can create new experiences for the storyteller or the individual(s) who witness the narrative, even if it is the same "story" heard or shared before.   Although there are many similarities between social constructionism/narrative inquiry and Indigenous epistemologies, Battiste and Henderson (2000) have warned that attempting to make Indigenous knowledge match existing Western knowledge creates the assumption that knowledge is universal (p. 39). If this is not to be true for different Indigenous cultures and nations, then it certainly is not the case between Indigenous and Eurocentric beliefs of knowledge. Thus, Restoule (2004) states it is important to note:  There are times when I make comparisons between concepts familiar to academics and  concepts from Aboriginal traditions as they have been translated into English. These  49  similarities are made for the purpose of intercultural understanding. There is always the danger that these metaphors may consequently be taken as equivalent concepts. Such an interpretation would be overly simplistic and have the unintended outcome of appropriating Aboriginal concepts from their original contexts devoid of the connections and relationships which give them their power. (p. 67) Lavallée (2009) also adds to this by expressing that it is important to resist categorizing Indigenous ways under Western concepts. This includes considering qualitative research methods as comparable to Indigenous methodology, despite any similarities that may be between them. Furthermore, Lavallée (2009) reports, "Indigenous research is not qualitative inquiry; however, the methods used may be qualitative" (p. 36). Therefore, I am not intending to merge Indigenous and Western knowledge bases, nor do I claim that this research was conducted with an Indigenous research approach. My intention of describing Indigenous knowledge and social constructionsm/narrative inquiry was to give a background of the two epistemologies, as I used data collection techniques from each. I highlighted potential similarities between them in order to facilitate a framing point for the research methods that I've used, as I have seen it. In order to have a shared understanding of the participants experiences from this study, I believed it was important to understand an Indigenous perspective and world view.  Sharing Circles. Sharing circles are similar to focus groups, in that they are used to gather people's stories of their experiences to learn about a particular topic through group discussion (Berg, 1995). The difference between them, however, is that sharing circles are growth and transformation bases for participants and they hold sacred meaning for Indigenous cultures (Lavallée, 2009). Sharing circles are considered a place where all participants, including the facilitator are viewed as equal (Restoule, 2004) and respect is of utmost importance 50  (Nabigon, Hagey, Webster, & MacKay, 1999). Other aspects of the circle is that it is recognized to be guided by the Creator and the spirits of Indigenous ancestors and it incorporates all parts of an individual: heart, body, mind, and spirit (Nabigon et al., 1999).  Research Design  In traditional Indigenous cultures, stories are considered not only as a form of knowledge, but also as a form of "medicine". In Matamonasa-Bennett's (2015) study, Elders spoke frequently about the sharing of traditional and personal stories as a healing "medicine" that helped others in the community. Additionally, other Indigenous male participants in the study believed in the healing powers of stories, as many shared that part of their reasoning behind participating in the research was due to the fact that they wanted their stories to be heard, with the hopes of it helping others. Hence, Indigenous traditions of talking/sharing circles emphasize an "individual’s commitment to change", while "reaffirming collective and communal solidarity" (Kirmayer, Simpson, & Cargo, 2003, p. S20). As Indigenous people are embedded in the traditions of storytelling, both in everyday social life and in the education (Stock, Mares, & Robinson, 2012, p. 158) and healing of communities, the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (1995) has reported that the ideas and practices of a narrative approach honours and re-empowers Aboriginal ways of being. Furthermore, some Indigenous people who have experienced historical trauma have shown to elicit resilience strategies with the use of culturally appropriate research methods, such as some forms of narrative inquiry and storytelling (Denham, 2008). Since the "colonial legacy of boundary violation has led to the erosion of personal agency or mastery" (Lehavot et al., 2010, p. 56), the use of a collaborative and participatory narrative approach in which participants are collectively and actively involved in identifying themes and patterns within their stories is most appropriate. Additionally, adopting a participatory approach 51  provides the most suitable means for reflecting the dynamic interpretations of participant narratives, as participants are not merely the subjects of the study, but are investigating along with the researcher, their personal experiences and the meanings of them (Osborne, 1990). Therefore, to keep with the honouring of Indigenous people and their culture, the research design for this study entailed the facilitation of a traditional Indigenous sharing circle as a data collection method, in combination with a narrative focus group, as a preliminary data analysis method. The sharing circle encompassed the storytelling of ending IPV in one's life, whereas the narrative focus group involved a discussion and a collaborative oral thematic analysis of the narratives. This entailed all participants responding and reflecting to all the stories that were shared during the circle, and then exploring the overarching themes and connections between their individual and shared narratives and experiences. Lastly, follow up emails with all participants were conducted to ensure accuracy of the second stage data analysis, so as not to impose an interpretive voice over the narratives and the data produced by the women involved in the study. The benefit of this research design was that it upheld and honoured traditional Indigenous traditions, shifted the power imbalance between the researcher and participant, and it provided space for the participants voices' and wisdom to be expressed within the findings of the research itself.   More often than not research on Indigenous people generally carries a deficit perspective, and since IPV is a negative experience, research on this phenomenon is often cast with a dark overtone as well. Thus, this study did not focus on the details of IPV, but rather on the experiences of how Indigenous women were able to construct new narratives without active IPV in their current lives. Although it was expected that participants would share stories of the violence they endured, this research was meant to be empowerment based, that is, it focused on 52  the resiliency and agency of Indigenous women to triumph through trauma and their life adversities. Sharing one's stories and insights with a collective homogenous group who has experienced and ended the cycle of IPV, can be extremely powerful for a group of Indigenous women. This transformative study  proved that notion to be true, as participants expressed that the design of this research provided them an opportunity to gain a sense of self and sense of community. Researcher's Story  I am a second-generation Chinese woman who was born and raised in Winnipeg,  Manitoba, as my parents came to Canada as refugees. I grew up in a neighbourhood where my family and I were the only non-Caucasian people. As I got older and into my teenage years, the neighbourhood population changed and the majority of people living in the area were Indigenous. Winnipeg has a high population of Indigenous people, therefore, I grew up witnessing a lot of the injustice, racism, sexism, oppression, and violence that was, and still is, committed against Indigenous people. I have seen first-hand how services, society, and institutions have failed to support them, and how this affects Indigenous communities. Winnipeg is known to be the murder capital of Canada, and many of these victims are Indigenous women. As I myself hold the status of a minority woman, my feelings towards this matter were (and still are) strong, as it seemed that it was daily that there were reports of violence occurring. I quickly learned which areas of the city to avoid as there are clusters of them too dangerous for women to be in, whether accompanied by someone or not. I then moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver to attend the masters program in counselling psychology at the University of British Columbia. Within my role as a counsellor, I have worked with several clients who have dealt with IPV and it struck a deep cord within myself. I felt helpless for clients who struggled against societal 53  systems and oppressions and it left me striving to find a way to foster change, thus, leading me into the direction of this research. I echo what Anderson (2000) notes, in that I don't profess to be any kind of authority or expert on Indigenous women, as I do not speak for their peoples, but rather I see myself as just a helper in spreading their stories to raise awareness and to learn myself. Researcher Reflexivity  The dialogical co-constructed way of knowing means that we cannot write ourselves out of the research. As Bergold and Thomas (2012) state, "Objectivity and neutrality must be replaced by reflective subjectivity" (p. 202). This is especially the case in engaging in collaborative research with people who have a history of marginalization and/or trauma as withholding emotional reactions and remaining silent about occurrences, could possibly contribute to the re-traumatization of the research participants (Dentith et al., 2012; Rath 2012). To successfully conduct narrative research that is collaborative and participatory, one must build trust with participants and create honest relationships that are characterized by closeness, empathy, emotional involvement, (Bergold & Thomas, 2012) and transparency. Furthermore, Indigenous research is not seen to be objective, but rather it is believed that the individuals conducting the research are connected to the participants, as emotions are connected to all mental processes (Lavallée, 2009). Sitting in witness of the sharing circle afforded me the feeling of community and strength as well, despite the fact that I was not sharing. Thus, it was difficult for me not to be moved by the work, and to not identify with the genuine emotions that arised. However, being an insider of the research did leave the potential for personal biases to limit the accuracy of the representation of findings. Thus, as part of the reflexive process of understanding the integral steps of the construction of knowledge, I kept a journal to record initial impressions 54  and interpretations, thoughts, questions, confusions, feelings and reflections. This helped me to stay reflexively aware of how my own experiences and ways of meaning making may have shaped my perceptions. It also helped me to remember the context of interactions, as with a focus group many things can occur at one time.    As this study has been informed by my own identity and personal experiences, I recognized my own emotionality within the work but most importantly, I also recognized my privilege, as I am a university-educated individual pursuing higher education within the field of counselling psychology at the University of British Columbia. Thus, I also recognized that inherent in that privilege, was the power of my position as a graduate student and researcher. I attempted to shift the power positions by honouring the participants as experts in their own knowledge and showcasing it through their voices in their analysis of their narratives. I also collaborated with the participants in the decision making process of the research in terms of the development of group norms and protocol, in addition to providing them space to voice how they wanted to represent their stories and their analysis work. As a minority myself, I valued the importance of being heard and represented accurately, but I also had to be mindful about generalizing my experiences of the world to those of the participants. Researcher's Subjectivity   As Braun and Clark (2006) indicate, "Themes or patterns within data can be identified in one of two primary ways in thematic analysis: in an inductive or 'bottom up' way, or in a theoretical or deductive or 'top down' way (p. 83). These different methods result in different positions regarding when a narrative researcher should engage with the literature relevant to one's topic of analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 86). Some narrative researchers believe prior engagement can enhance one's analysis, as then one would be sensitized to more nuanced 55  features of the data (Tuckett, 2005), whereas, others argue that the early immersing of one's self into literature narrows one's "analytic field of vision", leading one to focus on some aspects of the data at the "expense of other potentially crucial aspects" (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 86). With this being said, narrative researchers do not indicate that there is one right way to approach data, or that one type of position is superior (Braun & Clarke, 2006), but rather they express the fact that the type of analysis should fit with the methodological approach one has aligned with. Since I believed it was important to use a social constructionist viewpoint, which reports the experiences, meanings, and the reality of participant as their personal truth, an inductive approach for this research was appropriate. By not thoroughly engaging with the literature prior to analysis, it allowed me to limit any preconceived assumptions about the process of ending a violent relationship, thus, enhancing the findings of the study. Consequently, I did not shape the women's narratives into a pre-existing theory during the secondary analysis, as doing so would have sharply contrasted with my transformative and collaborative-participatory method.  Procedures  Participants. A total of five women over the age of 18 that self-identified as Indigenous  were recruited for this study. They all met the criteria of being separated from a violent relationship for a minimum of two years, therefore, they were also not within a current abusive partnership. As the premise of this research is centered on the narratives of how Indigenous women were able to end violent relationships, having women who were currently in a violent relationship would counter the main purpose of the research proposal. Additionally, this stipulation was put in place for safety reasons, as participating in this study while being in a violent relationship or attempting to leave one, can be dangerous and may exacerbate current issues within the relationship. It is also imperative to note that although research on violence is a 56  sensitive topic and can bring up many powerful emotions and distress within participants, this study was not intended to serve as a form of treatment or intervention for the participants. Those who were involved in violent intimate relationships would have been better off seeking  assistance versus participating in this research, thus, the decision for this exclusion was also an ethical one. The following are brief background descriptions of each participant. Pseudonyms were used for the purposes of maintaining confidentiality and anonymity.  Ashley. Kwakwaka’wa, 56 years old. Some university education. Divorced with children from previous partners and not currently in a relationship. Length of long-term relationship(s) with IPV: seven and 15 years. Has not experienced IPV for 11 years. Reasons for participating: one of the topics that is not talked about enough; women need more access to resources where they don't face racism; wanting to give hope to women by sharing story to show that quality of life can be improved. Jodi. Lil’wat, 73 years old. Graduate degree. Married with children to the same partner that she experienced IPV with. Length of long-term relationship(s) with IPV: 25 years. Has not experienced IPV for 24-25 years. Reasons for participating: one's own life experiences; to bring awareness and help other Indigenous women; hoping it would be helpful for research, had shared parts of her story dozens of times before but this research was looking for specific things. Michelle. Cree, 48 years old. Some post-graduate education. Re-married (new partner), children from previous relationship. Length of long-term relationship(s) with IPV: 11 years. Has not experienced IPV for 20 years. Reasons for participating: wanting to share one's own experiences  Dawn. Métis (Cree, Welsh, Ojibwa, French), 44 years old. College degree. Married (new  57  partner) with no children. Length of long-term relationship(s) with IPV: 11 and 15 years. Has not experienced IPV for 10 years. Reasons for participating: experienced violence in lifetime; an outlet and freedom to talk to strangers about experiences because it had not been done before; to better parts of self; to learn and connect with other Indigenous women.   Faith. Okanagan, 30 years old. Undergraduate degree. Common-law relationship (new partner) with no children. Length of long-term relationship(s) with IPV: two years. Has not experienced IPV for nine years. Reasons for participating: not enough awareness for Indigenous women and their issues; Indigenous women have no supports; wanting to provide voice; acknowledging history would help others; show women it's possible to live a better life.  Recruitment. Advertisements in the form of posters and letters of invitation were sent to organizations that dealt with IPV on behalf of the researchers. In order to be more respectful and personal to the topic of IPV, I also submerged myself into Indigenous communities and networked at Indigenous events to spread word of the research opportunity. Recruiting was also conducted through snowball sampling, in which one participant entrusted another to participate in the study. The rationale for this method of sampling is due to the sensitive and silencing nature of IPV, in which women are either afraid, embarrassed and/or ashamed to openly voice their experiences because of the potential consequences of sharing (i.e., stigma of being a victim in a violent relationship, being judged by others, loss of opportunity and/or respect due to the potential labeling and stereotyping of victims). Thus, having trusted gatekeepers or participants assisting with recruitment allowed trust to be established, which thereby aided in rapport building with new participants. As Bergold and Thomas (2012) state, "Participatory research requires a great willingness on the part of participants to disclose their personal views of the situation, their own opinions and experiences" (p. 196), thus, pre-existing relationships can be 58  useful in focus group research involving specific groups or sensitive issues, as less time would be needed for the group to warm up to each other (Liamputtong, 2011). Thus, as this was the case for this study, familiarity rather than anonymity was more useful in fostering a space for free-flowing discussions (Liamputtong, 2011) and sharing of stories. As Indigenous people traditionally use storytelling and talking/healing circles, it was not necessarily a foreign concept to share their experiences with fellow women of their culture. Three women were recruited though snowball sampling and participants did indeed state that the focus group brought them a sense of community whether individuals had known each other prior to the focus group or not.   Each interested individual was screened via a 15 minute telephone call that included questions about basic demographics (i.e., age, gender, education) and relationship status/history. The definition of IPV, exclusion criteria, and benefits/ risks of the research were also explained. Additionally, resources for IPV services and treatment were provided to each individual during the screening to ensure all women had the proper knowledge for support, should they have found themselves needing it, regardless if they were participating in the research or not. When an interested individual met the criteria and agreed to participate they were provided a consent form via email or in person, to sign prior to the research commencing. Upon participant(s) request, consent forms were emailed back to the researcher, in which the participant also kept a copy for their records. A few participants signed the consent form in person and did not desire nor request a copy. Included with the consent form was a written package of the study information covered in the screening phone call. This also entailed an introduction of the focus group protocol, in which women were asked to prepare a narrative on their experience of ending IPV. It stated that women had the option of either writing out their story and then reading it to the group, or  sharing through unscripted storytelling during the sharing circle. 59   Group protocol and data collection. The location of the sharing circle/focus group was on unceded Coast Salish Territory. The site was determined with the participants as one woman suggested and volunteered to hold the group at a community organization that dealt with IPV. All participants were asked for their preferences/suggestions for a location and all agreed on the site that had been volunteered. The group session was held in the evening and was three and a half hours long, although participants stayed by choice for approximately 15-30 minutes longer to eat and mingle. The participants elected to change the proposed timeline of the session as they desired to have a quick washroom break for 10-minutes midway through the sharing circle. They then decided that once all women had shared, the focus group discussion would commence, and the 30-minute period for dinner would follow afterwards. The last 30-minutes were used for a debriefing and check-in period. The group session was facilitated by myself and a female Indigenous trauma counsellor. I took on the group leadership role to ensure collaboration and completion of the research agenda. Specific leading skills included time management of the focus session, paraphrasing, clarifying, probing, and perception checking, in addition to writing the participants responses during the discussion period. The sharing circle/focus group was videotaped to enable my ability to identify voice for the content of the group session. The session was recorded from the beginning of the group gathering to the end of the focus group discussion. Only the individual stories were transcribed, however, all data was used for the analysis.  Emphasis was placed on the fact that participants could share as much or as little as they felt comfortable with, and that they had the right to pass if they did not want to participate at any point. They were also informed that if at any time they began to feel uncomfortable, they could take a break or leave the session without any consequences. Participants were also informed that if they were to step out of the room due to triggering content, the co-facilitator (trauma 60  counsellor) would follow to check in with them in order to ensure emotional safety. Norms were established prior to beginning the group session in order to help the group run smoother, should there have been contrasting personalities and difficulties within the group dynamics. Group norms were collaboratively decided and based on traditional practices of talking circles. The norms of the group entailed: the elder (oldest member) would share first if they chose to do so, participants would take turns in a counter clockwise fashion; the individual that had the talking feather during the sharing circle had the floor to speak; women were to be uninterrupted and given as much time as needed to share their story; all dialogue and/discussion would be respectful; and confidentiality was to be maintained. The importance of group confidentiality was explained and discussed. To foster trust within the group before the data collection commenced, participants signed confidentiality agreements that stated the content of the sessions were to remain confidential and identities of participants were to remain anonymous. The group was also reminded of the limits of confidentiality in that if the women happened to share cases of: a child or adult currently being abused and/or in need of protection; the imminent danger of an individual including one's self; and/or if one was presented as as a clear and imminent threat to someone else or society at large, that the researcher had a duty to report to the appropriate authorities. It was also made clear that all women's identities would be concealed unless requested otherwise, thereby, they would remain anonymous in any descriptions of their experiences and/or narratives. The group session did not begin with a smudging as was planned due to a participant's health concerns; all other participants agreed that it was fine to continue on without the smudging. The offering of sage bundles was done by the Indigenous co-facilitator as a gift to the women for participating and another traditional gift of a small piece of cloth was given to the participants by myself. My co-facilitator explained the significance of the sage and 61  the cloth for Indigenous culture, and she expressed that these offerings were made to respect and honour Indigenous traditions.  The elder of the group did not desire to share first, therefore, another woman volunteered. Two participants indicated they had written their account of ending IPV, but both had decided to storytell, rather than read their written document. It was deemed that writing was done more so to prepare for the sharing circle. As the women were aware of the amount of time that was scheduled for the group, they understood that there had to be sufficient time to hear all women's narratives before the discussion, analysis, and debriefing period. Each woman had unlimited and uninterrupted time to share her story, however, all were conscious of providing room for others to speak. Therefore, the woman self-monitored their storytelling time, which resulted in each story being approximately 15-20 minutes long.  Focus group discussion and preliminary data analysis. After all stories were shared, participants engaged in the discussion period by responding to the other women's narratives and sharing how the other stories connected with their own experiences. Group discussion protocols aimed to explore how the women ended the cycle of IPV, how they sought out and achieved help and safety, and how they created a new narrative for their life. Several probes were used to help facilitate the discussion and analysis (i.e., What were the strategies you used to end IPV in your life? What would you describe as the defining moment? What kind of similarities/differences are there between the stories? What kind of patterns do you see within your own story? Across stories?) All women were encouraged to write their responses down on large chart paper, however, all women preferred to remain seated. Thus, all responses were color coded and written down by either myself or the co-facilitator. The discussion topics that emerged from the group were: self-concepts, identity, purpose, relationship schemas, family, history, culture, and 62  meaning making. Following the discussion, the group participated in the preliminary oral thematic analysis, in which the women explored how they were all connected in their experience. Participants were asked to share words or themes that they thought represented their story and/or the collective narratives. Each woman shared at least one theme or more and I wrote them all on large chart paper. The words/themes were as follows: silenced; confidence; safety; cultural communication; determination; breaking the cycle; quality of life; self-love; healing; saying no; and boundaries. The participants then discussed the related themes and patterns both within and across stories, thus, the preliminary data analysis fully utilized the voices of the women themselves to explain their collective experiences of ending IPV.  Since the topics discussed had the potential of being emotionally charging, time was needed for the participants to rest in order to avoid exhaustion and an overload of emotions. Therefore, the debriefing period was imperative before concluding the group session in order to ensure participants felt grounded and emotionally safe. The debriefing period was held for the remaining 30-minutes of the group session. It included discussions on how participating in the research had affected the women, how the process of the focus group impacted them, along with discussing a variety of general safe topics and self-care strategies. The possibility that one might feel  negative or strong reactive emotions once alone was also discussed. This was followed by providing all participants with resources for support, as well as details on how to access immediate assistance in relation to the topics discussed in the group.  Secondary data analysis. The audio of the sharing circle was transcribed verbatim, including non-verbal communication (pauses, tone/volume of voice, tears, laughs, "uhms", etc.). Following this, a six step thematic content analysis of the narratives using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) method was conducted to gain further insight into the themes identified by the 63  participants, as well as to identify any other potential themes of the women's stories. In the first step of the analysis, I immersed myself into the data by repeatedly reading/listening to the transcriptions/media to see if additional themes and patterns emerged. Additionally, I took notes during this process to record my impressions, thoughts, and any ideas for the mapping of themes. Step two entailed generating initial codes within the data. Codes identify a feature of the data  that appear interesting and refer to "the most basic segment, or element, of the raw data or information that can be assessed in a meaningful way regarding the phenomenon" (as cited in Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 88). Coding was done to organize the data into meaningful groups in order to prepare for the next step, which was to examine for any further themes that the participants did not mention. Once all the data was coded and collated, step three began in which I sorted the different codes into potential themes and/or the themes that were already identified by the women in the study. I then collated all the relevant coded data extracts within the identified themes. A preliminary thematic map was created to show the relationship between themes, and between different levels of themes (i.e., main overarching themes and sub-themes within them). Codes that did not seem to belong to any themes were still documented and placed under a "theme" titled "miscellaneous". Stage four included reviewing the themes and this phase involved two levels of reviewing and refining themes. Level one involved reviewing at the level of the coded data extracts. During this level it became evident that some of the candidate themes identified by myself, were not really themes (i.e., not enough data to support it, data was too diverse), while others collapsed into each other and/or needed to be broken down into separate themes. I then read all the collated extracts for each theme, and considered the suitability for its placement. I also read the the extracts to see if the themes appeared to form a coherent pattern. If the candidate themes did not fit, I had to consider whether the theme itself was problematic, or 64  whether some of the data extracts within it simply did not fit there, in which case I would have to rework the theme or move the data extracts. Once the candidate themes adequately represented the coded data, a finalized thematic map was created and stage five began, which entailed re-naming the themes if needed and then defining them. I then identified the essence of what each theme was about, as well as the themes overall, and organized them into a coherent and internally consistent account, with accompanying narrative excerpts. Lastly, stage six was completed when I had a set of fully worked-out themes, and thus, was able to write up the final analysis and report the findings to the participants.  Member Checking  Expert peer reviewers were consulted throughout the duration of the study and member checks were done both formally and informally as opportunities for member checks arised during the normal course of active listening and discussion. In an informal sense, member checks were carried out verbally throughout the focus group session. Both myself and the co-facilitator constantly checked our understanding by utilizing techniques such as paraphrasing and summarization for clarification. Since this research was collaborative and the women participated in the preliminary analysis, informal member checking was necessary to ensure the analysis was accurate and reflective of the women's voices. Once I had compiled the data, a formal member check was conducted in order to validate the trustworthiness of the findings, and to ensure the women's voices were not lost or misrepresented. The formal check included a follow up email in which the participants received the final write up of the findings, the thematic map, the summary of the oral analysis of the group narratives, and a short summary of the secondary analysis and findings. Each participant was given the opportunity to communicate via email, telephone, or in person, to modify (i.e. add, remove, rename, rearrange, change) any of the 65  analysis and/or to identify any further themes from within their own stories, as well as across all women's stories.  Participants were asked whether or not the findings resonated with what they had shared  in their stories and with what they had identified and described as the themes of the collective narratives. This was done to ensure that I accurately represented what the participants expressed. In order to asses comprehensiveness, participants were asked if they wanted to add anything to the reports, in addition to the question of whether or not they felt anything was missing. Lastly, participants were asked about the pragmatic value of the reports, which refers to the usefulness of the findings for counselling practice. One participant responded to my request for comments, concerns, corrections, and/or feedback on the findings. All other participants were encouraged to engage with their final input by sending their comments/suggestions before the final submission of the write up. Upon the one participant's request to revise her pseudonym, adjustments were made accordingly. Additionally, this participant expressed her thoughts on being a part of the study: I have read through your paper and think you have done a great great job of capturing  what we as a group said. I am so grateful I did this as I think that my story being so  different will reach someone who doesn't understand what they are feeling or help a   counsellor understand someone better [...] This makes me feel like I have a story to tell  and that my story could help someone. Although the remaining four women did not provide feedback during the formal member checks, they had expressed their thoughts and feelings about participating in the research during the check out of the focus group. At that time all participants indicated that they felt "good" about being in the study and that they felt, "refreshed", "powerful", "grounded" and "inspired". One 66  woman also remarked that she felt she was consciously stepping forward in life while participating in the research and that it helped her to find a better part of herself. Another participant indicated that at first she did not think that she would have been a good candidate because she didn't feel she had enough of a story to share. However, the idea of connecting and helping others encouraged her to acknowledge that her history could create awareness for others.  She stated, "Women of all walks of life, all have a story, it makes us who we are."  Ethical Considerations  Due to the sensitive nature of violence research, it was possible that disturbing and strong reactive emotions or re-traumatization could have occurred, however, great care was taken to ensure participants received the assistance needed, should it have been the case that it was required. As mentioned previously, interested and willing participants were all provided with information on possible risks of the study, as well as resources. Consent forms also reiterated the information to ensure all women were well-informed prior to participating. Follow up individual emails were conducted with each woman within four days after the initial focus group session to ensure participants were not feeling distressed by the content that was discussed and that no particular issues had been raised. This was to ensure timely follow up with each individual, in addition to a meaningful length of time in which to engage with each participant. Additionally, the formal member check also included a follow up on the participant's state of mind in regards to the research. In this way, at every stage (before, during, and after the research) follow-ups and resources were provided to all women. Thus, the format of this research design accounted for the ethical duties of the research team in ensuring that the participants had ample time for the construction of psychological safety both within and outside of the research setting.    Another ethical consideration was the fact that confidentiality was limited by the integrity  67  of the agreements maintained by group members and their understandings to uphold  confidentiality. Group norms and dynamics were monitored continuously in order to maintain trust, cohesion and connection. In terms of anonymity in the final report, pseudonyms were used (as requested), and any identifying information in the participant stories were removed. All participants received numerous opportunities to provide feedback on this matter.   Lastly, it was a possibility that a participant(s) may have been in a violent relationship while partaking in the study. This could have been due to the fact that one wanted to be a part of the research for various reasons such as: to have an escape from the relationship; to gain insight advice or help; to connect with others; or to feel special in contributing. In this case, it would have been a safety issue, as violence could have increased if a participant's partner discovered their active role in the work. Women were provided with appropriate resources and support throughout the research process and emergency contact numbers were filed for each participant. Furthermore, safety planning procedures were discussed with the research team to prepare for any potential concerns and/or issues.     In terms of ensuring psychological safety for myself as a researcher dealing with a sensitive topic, I wrote in my research journal throughout the process of this study. Reflecting on how this work could affect myself personally was an important part of being transparent. I was open to sharing these notes with my supervisor and/or colleagues to ensure my research methodology was intact and personal emotions were not interfering with my role. As I have completed all my course requirements and field experience, I have developed the skills needed to be self-aware as to when I would need to seek counsel, thus, if needed I would have debriefed with my research team as necessary. Additionally, I continuously checked in with my research team to report updates and any changes with the progress of the study. 68  Chapter 4: Findings The purpose of this study was to explore Indigenous women's experiences of ending intimate partner violence to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that contributed to their ending of IPV, and to learn how agency was constructed within their stories in order to empower the women. Excerpts of the stories and the discussion from the focus group were used to illustrate the five themes and 25 subthemes that were derived via the preliminary participant analysis and the secondary Braun and Clarke (2006)'s thematic content analysis method. Stories were first transcribed and then initial codes were generated, these codes were then collated into potential themes and were reviewed to check for relevancy and fit to the overall data set. Revision of the themes included sorting, removing, adding, and re-naming themes and subthemes, which resulted in a final thematic map (see Figure 1). The qualitative data software program, NVivo 11, was used for the analysis to turn the raw dataset into meaningful constructs.  Each theme represents an important aspect of the participants’ experiences of ending IPV. Themes were generated both within and across stories by the participants themselves, therefore, they are representative of the women's narratives personally and collectively. The specific titles of the themes were generated by the participants in the focus group discussion. Five out of eleven themes identified by the women were renamed, collapsed and/or categorized into subthemes by the researcher during the secondary analysis stage, in order to ensure that the data would cohere and flow together as seamlessly as possible. It is important to note that the themes did not occur in isolation as ending the cycle of IPV is a process and not a pre-defined step-by-step regime, as such, some overlap between themes and subthemes may be evident. Since it was inevitable that there was to be overlap, some of the participants' narratives were split and categorized in order to find the most suitable context for the data to reflect the ways in which  69  different parts of one's story represented a theme/subtheme. Theme 1: Healing  The following overarching theme portrays participants’ general experiences of navigating through the process of ending the cycle of IPV. A significant aspect of the women's experiences centred around healing in some shape or form, whether it was through formal services such as counselling, or through intrapersonal introspection and reflection. After embarking on the journey of healing work, the women were able to strengthen and develop their agency. This lead to the emergence of the other four main themes, in which participants engaged in more specific strategies to end IPV that were in accordance to their own life path and tribulations. Thus, healing was at the center of the experience of ending IPV and the remaining themes branch out from this general starting point into other specific forms of healing, growth and change. The subthemes within this centralized theme of healing represent the variety of ways that the women began the process of making or becoming sound and/or healthy. Acknowledgement of violence. All five participants spoke about how acknowledging their experiences as unhealthy at several points in time, helped them to pause and question the direction of their relationships, and their future. Each of the women had witnessed IPV in their family of origin, and each stated that this caused them to normalize the violence they were experiencing in their relationships. Once they were able to step back from the violence, they were able to recognize it for what it was and they began to think about how they wanted things to be different. For instance Ashley began her story by sharing her family's history of IPV: I was thinking, when we talk about our partners I couldn't just start there because that's not where it began, right? So, I wrote that it was all I knew from the time I was born. I might not have been abused myself, but I heard my mother throughout my whole life. I 70  seen my mother beaten and dragged and you know, weapons held against her and by the time I got to be a young woman, I was already experiencing that, thinking it was normal, he really loved me, right? He was showing me how much he loved me, he would lose control over his emotions because he loved me so much and you know, now I look back at that and I go, "that was so silly" but, when you grow up with it, you just don't know right? Ashley described some of her experiences of IPV as almost surreal, to the point where she felt numb to it. However, she talked about distinctly remembering the time when she acknowledged how extremely unhealthy the IPV was, especially for her daughter: I got grabbed from behind and dragged into the bedroom and he was on top of me and he had this big knife and he just kept, you know, going like this [demonstrates stabbing motion] on each side of my head and I thought I was going to die but I wasn't scared right? I wasn't scared. I just wanted it to end and it wasn't until I guess my daughter came home. She was six at the time and it wasn't his daughter, I hadn't had a child with him yet. My daughter came home and she seen that and I–just the look in her eyes right? Just told me that you know, if he can do this to me then he can do that to her right? And, I think that helped me to start thinking that I can do something about this, and I should, but it wasn't for me, I should do it for her right? Ashley indicated that from this moment on she began to think about making changes in her life and this propelled her journey towards ending the cycle of IPV. Michelle echoed this sentiment as she described her moment of acknowledging the IPV in her life and how it affected her children:  They would ask me those real questions like, "Is daddy–" you know, "Is dad coming  71   home? Like, where is he? And is he going to come home?" Cause we'd all be scared, walking on eggshells and stuff right? So, it was finally me having to answer some of those kind of questions with the kids [eughh] you know? This is not good for any of us, not good for any of us at all. Faith also described witnessing violence between her parents in her childhood and that this created the notion that IPV was normal. It wasn't until the people in her life acknowledging the signs of violence in her relationships, that she was able to recognize the harm it caused for herself. Once she reflected on her experiences, she began to think about wanting change for her life and her intimate relationships:  It's hard you know when you're in the moment, my one girlfriend [was] looking into my relationship and I remember giving her the, you know, "Who do you think you are?" You know, kind of look and attitude because she saw more than I saw, and it was just a normal thing for me but she was like, "No you need to get out of there," because he was starting to abuse me and he was starting to do it more and you know,  [I] was starting to have bruises on me and I just thought nothing of it. . . . So just coming to the realization that, you know, it was affecting me. She went on to say that acknowledging the IPV in her family history and the history of violence  of those who had abused her, helped her to understand the vicious cycle of intergenerational violence and trauma:  Acknowledging, you know, where a lot of the abuses were coming from too was another thing that really helps me, having to really understand where the other person is coming from you know, to really know the abuses that they suffered and how that impacts their lives, and who they are and what they carry with them. Just really remembering like, well 72  not remembering but just acknowledging where they're coming from really, I think helps too as well. Dawn recalled a particular moment in her ex-relationship when she had acknowledged the type of violence that her ex-partner was subjecting her to:   I had just had a real moment where I realized that if I continued in this thing with him, he was really going to hurt me. Like, there was a good possibility he was going to kill me because he was going to come to my home and be so strung out on these drugs or bring somebody with him, that [he] was going to come into my home and they were going to hurt me. It was in this moment that Dawn was able to reflect on what her relationship and life experiences were like and this in turn enabled her to identify the violence as dangerous and something that she did not want in her current or future life. Self-growth. All participants spoke about how self-work and growth helped them to discover more about themselves and that this led them to find strength and wisdom from their experiences. For each participant, self-growth occurred at different points in the trajectory of their intimate relationship. The women expressed that self-growth was a continuous journey, and that it never ceased, even after the end of a violent intimate partnership. Jodi explained that a lot of her growth occurred after she reflected back on her experiences:  The fights that went on, I know that that really affected me as a child but at the time I didn't know that. I had to look back at it and see, how it did affect me and I just realized that as an adult, what that had done to me. My dad never really beat the children, I'm thankful for that, but watching and listening and hearing you know, the abuse. . . . I was so afraid somebody was going to be killed, somebody was going to die when that 73  happened and, and I think that I did go through that PTSD you know, as a young one . . . I heard the screaming and yelling outdoors . . . this was something that happened all the time. . . . So, when I reflect on that and I look at that I, when I was much older, one of my sisters said to me . . . , "It must of really affected you to be at home and watching and witnessing all the abuse going on in the home." I looked at her and I go like, "No?! It didn't affect me?" And I realized later because I was in my own abuse, I was right in the midst of it myself, I didn't recognize that at all and it wasn't until I began to heal myself and work on myself that I realized, yes! Ha! It did affect me. In addition to reflecting back on the IPV that she witnessed between her parents, Faith also thought about the historical traumas that her ancestors had faced: I know that throughout my short lifetime I learned a little bit about why relationships haven't been so well, whether it's myself or the other person or just the bigger picture, the issues from colonization, from residential schools, [it] really impacted a lot of our families. . . . That was just one of the things I'd realized, it's just the residential schools really had a big impact on, you know, not just to the relationships within our families but within ourselves and it's still something that we're dealing with, we're healing and moving up. This self-growth really helped Faith solidify her understanding of IPV and the effects that it has on people such as herself, her family, and Indigenous people at large. These reflections helped herself to heal and to forgive those who had wronged her, including her perpetrators of violence.   Ashley also did some self-growth work through a program, and she found that this made a huge difference in her life: I went to life skills coaches training and that was three months and that really changed my  74  life, it's only a three month course but every day you sit in a circle like this and you talk –we had a stick – and you would talk and start the day off by saying how we are, right? And I was still in the relationship and so I had a lot of mornings where I would be crying, talking about how I had to get up really early, you know, get my kids ready, run one to day care over here, run the other to school over there and then run for my bus while he sat at home right? And so that really taught me how to relieve I guess some of the stuff that was going on and that went on for three months everyday and everybody in the class was like a mirror. So, you know, I could say what was going on and they would be observing and then give me feedback and sometimes it was really hard to hear that feedback. But, in that class they let me know like, if you don't hear the feedback and you choose to not do anything about it, you won't be getting your certificate right? So I really tried [laughs], I really wanted that certificate right [laughs], I was really trying to hear them and hear what they were [saying, the] feedback they were giving me right?. . . . Healing, that was my way out anyways.  Counselling. Two participants mentioned how counselling in particular was beneficial for their health and wellbeing and that it helped them progress forward in dealing with the effects of violence and in ending the cycle of IPV in their lives. Michelle mentioned counselling several times throughout her story; she indicated that she had extended benefits through work and this allowed her to try various types of counselling throughout the years of her violent relationship and that this was beneficial for her growth:  So I thought, you know, I need to start maybe doing some counselling for myself and he   was definitely not supportive of that kind of stuff right? He was getting scared I think,   that I was growing. . . . I began to get into some different counselling, with work we had  75   extended benefits so, I was able to use some of that stuff.  Dawn had also chosen to attend counselling as she had witnessed and experienced violence  herself as a child. She expressed that she knew it was important to heal through her traumas: I went for [counselling], even as a young person I knew I needed help so, I went on my own and I went to this one particular woman for about four years till I could actually say the words that he said to me and let it go and move on from that space. Dawn's story was unique in that she was the only participant that experienced violence at the hands of her parents, but did not experience physical IPV. She stated that she believed it was due to the fact that she had done a lot of self-growth through counselling. Therefore, in this specific case, counselling became a strong protective barrier against the cycle of intergenerational physical IPV, however, she experienced other forms of IPV which she did not recognize as violence until much later in her adult life.  Support from loved ones. Although all participants spoke about receiving some type of support from others, to avoid overlap, this specific subtheme describes a distinct type of support that came in the form of unconditional, non-judgemental love and assistance with day to day living. Two of the participants described how this type of support helped them propel forward in their process of ending IPV in their lives, as Faith stated, "That was one of my things, one of my ways of trying to get out, just having that support from loved ones, family." Since IPV can be isolating due to one's partner controlling their social activity, and/or because of shame, embarrassment, or fear, Michelle expressed that it was helpful to have loved ones provide care and support instead of having them judging, ignoring or condemning her. Michelle described this as:  I was very fortunate to have my mom and dad a big part of my life because they were  76  there to help me when he wouldn't come home to watch the kids for work the next day or, or whatever it was right? I was lucky to have a big family, I think that was probably the biggest support to get me through. Because over the years I had lost friends, it was always something that would come up right?. . . . Even from his family, his aunties and stuff, I was lucky to have a lot of support during that time because they could see right?. . . . Being around people too that supported me right. Theme 2: Quality of Life Participants reported that support from others helped them to get by despite the violence that they were experiencing. More specifically, the women stated that it was the expressions of concern from others that helped them to reflect on what their quality of life actually was, and what level of quality they wanted for themselves and/or their children. Some of the participants stated that after some reflection, they felt they needed to develop stability, a sense of purpose, and goals (education or career), in order to feel that their inner world was aligned with their outer world.   Concerned others wanting more for them. Participants provided multiple accounts of them experiencing concern from others and explained that these encounters had made them think about whether they were happy with their choices and life path. Jodi indicated that prior to marrying her husband, her father who had been violent with her mother himself, was concerned about her choice for a husband. Even though he had been a perpetrator of IPV, he wanted a better quality of life for his daughter:  And when we finally fell in love and he asked me to marry him, first thing I said to him was, "You're not going to beat me like my dad beats my mom are you?" and he said, "No", he wasn't going to do that and I felt reassured. . . . Three months after we were 77  married I had a black eye. . . . I know that our families knew what was going on, I knew my dad didn't really want me to marry him in a way cause he said, "How's he going to support you?" My husband was nineteen when we got married and he always had a seasonal job in fishing in Alaska and he would leave for a few months, come back . . . I think it was more than that that my dad worried about because he knew what went on in my husband's family as well. He used to party with my husband's dad, so he was aware of all those things that happened there as well. Michelle also had family voicing concern about her experience of IPV shortly after she had gotten pregnant with her first husband:  My first symptom of abuse from him was probably not even six months pregnant and he put me in the hospital and it was bad. So [I had] my doctor, I had my mom and dad talking to me and trying to you know, not coming out in like in saying, "What are you doing? What are you–what are you doing with your–what's this? Why don't you leave?" and stuff but his aunts were telling me that and, you know what? I heard his story [in] those six months, knowing that he came from a very, very, abusive upbringing and witnessing all of that stuff. So for him, it was normal but I was true to a commitment of having a baby, you know. . . . So, it was–it was tough. Towards the end of Michelle's relationship when she was preparing to leave, she indicated that her husband's aunties' voiced their support and concern. Michelle noted that she was able to use their words of love and concern to gain agency and momentum towards choosing a path that would allow for a healthier and happier lifestyle. She stated, "[they] loved him to death, loved me to death but they could just see it just wasn't a healthy thing for the kids. . . . it was just a big  realization of a lot–a lot of things." 78    Faith expressed that she had several different people of varying roles in her life that voiced concern over her intimate relationships, from residents at her abusive partner's apartment, to friends, to a drug and alcohol counsellor who had known Faith since she was young. She elaborated:  "I noticed you have a pattern in your life Faith." I wasn't very old, I mean I was pretty young, I want to say twenty one or twenty and that's when he said he goes, "You have a pattern." He goes, "You're dating the same, you know men," and uh, it didn't kick in really right away when I realized he's right, like there is a bit of a pattern you know. These men that I've been dating there's been a lot of alcoholism and even myself, I mean I was not–I wasn't an angel, I mean I was probably drinking just as much. Faith indicated that she had initially been resistant towards anyone who had broached the subject of her relationships, with the attitude that they didn't know better. However, as people increasingly voiced concern about the quality and direction of her life, she began to reflect and take heed to their support and suggestions:  And then another–somebody else had said something to me too as well and this came after the relationship. Somebody did say to me, they said, "You don't love yourself" and that, you know, that really hit too but you know, that person was right.  Wanting more for self. Participants stated that when they began to grow, connect with others, and reflect on their life circumstances, they began to want more for themselves. The women expressed that it brought forth a felt sense that life could be better, despite their normalization of IPV and the chaos that they they experienced/witnessed in childhood. Dawn described a distinct moment of this: He didn't actually physically hit me but it was going there. He started throwing things 79  around in my apartment, anything he could pick up. The phone was smashed against the wall, like anything that was there. He's knocking over chairs, he's you know–and for me because you know, I had spent like at that time like three or four years squirreling away all these things in my life and you know, planning this life to live. It was a very distinct moment for me where I sort of got really clear all of a sudden. Dawn elaborated that she identified the pattern of violence that she had experienced in childhood as it was seeping into her adult life. She indicated that as she began to recognize how hard she had worked to acquire a better quality of life than the one she had in childhood, it became clear that she could not continue having this partner in her home.   Ashley remarked that  receiving support and information from fellow classmates was what helped her to envision a better life for herself because then she could see that there were more choices and paths that she could choose from, and that she didn't have to repeat her family history of IPV. She stated, "My classmates taught me about different resources and that I didn't have to stay where I was." Ashley described this as the pivotal point in her intimate relationship because it marked the end of the cycle of IPV in her life. Learning that her experiences were not of the norm, and that she could receive assistance to aid her out of the relationship, changed Ashley's life course.  Purpose. Participants provided multiple accounts of the importance of feeling a sense of purpose in life, although this was fulfilled in different forms for different women. Some sought out new and meaningful careers, others continued their education and changed their fields of work, while others focused on building their status within their jobs. Self-growth, stability,  advancement, wanting to achieve goals, and helping others were some of the driving forces that  propelled these women to seek out paths that aligned with their inner selves.  80   Education. A couple of the participants reported that education made a positive impact on their life and their careers, and that it helped them to find their passions as well as their purpose in life. For instance, Ashley had been working as a successful hair dresser for several years, however, her clients constantly told her that the reason they sought her out was because she was a good listener, and that to them, that was more important than the hair services they were receiving. She described this experience by sharing what her hair clients would say to her:  They'd go, "Well I always feel good after you do my hair and I don't even care about the  hair, it's just that you listen to me." Right? [laughs] They'd go, "You'd make a really good  counsellor." So, I kept hearing that over and over, so I decided I would go to counselling  school and I thought, well it's probably a really good idea because then I could fix him,  and I could fix my dad, [laughs] you know, I could fix my brothers cause it was all the  men right? Realizing her potential and skills and encouraged by those around her, Ashley discovered that she could embark on a counselling career that would help both herself and others, to heal and grow:  So those things combined is how I left. Like, the education was huge, nobody could tell  me I was stupid anymore right, I completed something and I've been successful at it and  I'm still successful. Furthermore, Ashley completed a life skills coaching course to further her personal and professional abilities and skills to navigate through life. She indicated that she is still working as  a counsellor and she teaches various groups to help and educate others, to which she fully enjoys. Faith also made remarks about her rewarding career in business management for an  organization dedicated to improving the lives of First Nations. She indicated that the education  81  that led her to this position, was something that she focused on as a goal when struggling through  the process of ending IPV in her life:  I left that man while I was in school and I had left him actually and carried on. I was  dating this other man, he had left me for a woman with five kids! . . . I was just like, I'm  a young woman going to school, I was enrolled in the business program and I'm just like,  what's wrong with me? But again I've come to the realization later on that it wasn't me, it's him right? Although Faith struggled with feeling inadequate because of the abuse she experienced in her relationships, she was able to reflect back on her strengths and determination for her education.  Employment. Meaningful employment was a buffering factor in ameliorating the negative effects of IPV for the participants in this study, but it also was a contributing factor in the process of ending a violent intimate relationship, as noted by several excerpts throughout this theme.  Stability. A majority of the participants had indicated that while they were in their violent intimate relationships, they were employed. Michelle described how finding meaningful and accommodating employment was important in terms of her life values, as well as for survival:   I think the biggest thing I started seeing changing was, I'd had our second son two years later and I decided I didn't want the career that I was doing cause I had to work nights and I had to work weekends, and I had two little boys and money wise, I knew I had to work because I couldn't depend on him. He worked a great job, made really good money in Vancouver, we were in Prince George, but I would never see it. So the money thing was always a big thing and I'd have to go to welfare and I'd have to borrow off my parents and I'd have to, just to feed the kids, and I'd be pawning things and that wasn't how my dad 82  had raised me, how I'd seen my mom and dad–they managed, they'd always. See, and that's why I thought you know, I can. I can't do that anymore to us, to me and the kids. So then I started, "I need to look at a different type of career for myself that I can do better." Michelle continued on to say that she started working at a Friendship Center, where she began to develop the roots of her career in supporting and helping others. Ashley expressed a similar sentiment in that she was tired of being financially unstable. The feeling of being stuck drove  her to return to school in order to gain stability and purpose through a new career:  Then we had another daughter and so by then you start to feel stuck right, stuck because    welfare doesn't give you really enough to live on. . . . Anyways, I got tired of living you    know, monthly checks and lining up at food banks and having to take both kids while he  strummed the guitar at home.  Both Faith and Dawn stated that they worked at a very young age to maintain independence, freedom and stability. They expressed that they wanted to improve their quality of life, whether it was to escape from a violence filled home, or to maintain control in their personal life, irrespective of their violent intimate relationship. Faith described her young work experience as:  My grandma took me in but she gave me way too much freedom, [laughs] as long as I stayed in school and I went. I worked seasonal jobs when I was thirteen, I never not worked a season, I worked every winter, spring, and had gone to school but I had fun.  Dawn also noted that she started work at a young age and had fun going out with friends, but that she always maintained stable employment, as well as professionalism at her job:  Initially when I was younger, I was a very–pretty straight laced kind of nerdy girl who you know, went out and had a good time with her friends but I always had a job, I was always working full time. I chose to be a manager, I focused on being a manager from the 83  first time I started working because I knew that it would give me the freedom to not live at home. To not be in that space, to support myself and to have a home that I wanted so, that was my whole entire goal. I had to be self-sufficient and no one was going to take that away from me. So I actually never lived with anybody through my twenties. I mean, I went through things where I like, had to cut my phone off, and I had to go to food banks and you know, between jobs things happened but no matter what I was always kind of   this self-sufficient person.  Wanting more for their children. Three of the five participants had one or more children within a violent intimate partnership. As the women told their stories of experiencing and ending IPV, each expressed concern for their child(ren). The three women described a rollercoaster type of intimate relationship in which there were "normal" and happy times as a family, but dark and violent times as well. The participants shared that their desire to have a safe environment and a better future for their child(ren) drove them to begin the process of ending IPV. Michelle indicated that her children were the ones that made her reflect on the quality of life she was living and providing:   So we'd probably been together about, I'm going to say ten years and it was just–it was hard and the kids going through all of that was the biggest thing. . . . You know, having to get your son to run next door to call the police cause things got really bad . . . my oldest son would have to run next door and it just was–it was tough times.  Michelle went on to say that overtime she realized that the way she was raising her kids was not aligned with how she wanted them to live. This realization helped her to develop the self-awareness and strength to change the course of her and her family's life by ending the violent  intimate relationship with the father of her children: 84   I was just like serious talking to him and actually just saying you know like, "I can't do it   anymore. It's not good for the kids, it's not good for me, it's not good for you." And away! He drove away! He drove away and tried a bit after to come back but I think by then I realized that yeah, I know that I can have a better life for myself and help the kids to see   that there is a better life out there so, I just couldn't, couldn't go back. Ashley also recalled this feeling of introspection when she noticed the negative effects of IPV for  herself and her children. As Ashley shared her story, she explained that the love for her children,  and the wish to do right by them, helped her to end the cycle of IPV and substance use. She  stated that she recognized she needed to heal and be the best version of herself in order to  provide the type of life that she wanted for her children:  I looked at my daughter that day, I tell her, you know, I tell her, "I loved you so much  that's where I got the strength to say 'no' to the abuse, to say 'no' to substances, to say 'no' to downtown." Cause I was getting to be downtown too right, waiting for the bars to  open at nine in the morning, standing on the sidewalk, and I tell her I got my strength,  you know, just love, love gave me the strength. Jodi identified a time where she was afraid for her children because the violence had gotten extremely dangerous. She voiced that her partner was very abusive to their children in terms of  discipline. During one particular incident of discipline, Jodi felt the need to take a stand against her partner to ensure the safety of her sons. Facing this violent situation head on made Jodi reflect that things had to be different for her children, and that she would not allow things to continue as they were:  It was always at the hand of discipline like, "I'm going to teach you" and he dished out  to them what his dad to him. His dad beat him with a belt [on] the raw back, [and the]  85  behind. Him and his brother. And he [her partner] did these things to them [their sons]. That's how he thought you know, you raise your children, to teach them, and I disagreed with that and we'd always get into a fight about that as well. There was one day, I don't know what he was angry at the kids for, but I just thought he was going to do some more harm to them and I just said, "No. [Heh] You. You have to go through me. You have to." I was protecting my kids and at that point I just felt that I needed to do that. Theme 3: Cultural Connection Participants provided detailed accounts on the well known identifiable needs for survivors of IPV such as, safety, support, and resources. Furthermore, they discussed another important need, which was to ground and connect to their Indigenous roots, culture, people and/or traditions, in order to heal. Although the subthemes have a sense of overlap, they are distinct in that each have a significant importance in healing through a different aspect of cultural connection.   Sense of community. Participants expressed a general sentiment that they had experienced a sense of community throughout the process of ending the cycle of IPV. They also elaborated on the specific moments in their lives in which the sense of community with Indigenous people gave them a feeling of being whole. Dawn shared that she felt Indigenous community was a missing piece in her life. Not only did she feel excluded from her physical community growing up, she also felt disconnected from her Indigenous heritage within her family. Dawn explained her experience as, "growing up being the only fair person in my family and kinda being this weird outsider between these two worlds." She stated that her mother gave her a "choice" about whether she wanted to identify as Indigenous. However, her family and siblings out casted her regardless of her choice, "My brother and sister always placed me in a 86  different place than them, [they thought] that I had it easier, so you know, I had a real disconnect with my family." Being a light skinned Métis woman, Dawn expressed that she did not fit in with  her family, nor her neighbourhood:  I grew up in housing and [with] a single mom, so you know, was kind of  the odd family out. We lived in a really diverse area but we were kind of the only Native kids in the neighbourhood. . . . Kids would be friends with me and they would see me as – their parents would see me as – like a white kid and then they would meet my family, and they would always question like, "Oh is she a good person to be friends with?" because I had this background and because there was a stigma that comes with that and so, like I said, I always kind of lived in this middle space between being white and being Native as well, and it kind of really gave me a lot of confusion about who I was and what I wanted to do, but I was very determined you know? Dawn indicated that she finally felt a deep sense of community while participating in the study. She expressed that this came about through her experiences of both sharing and witnessing the stories of being an Indigenous women in the cycle of IPV:  So, it's been a very intense four days of a lot of talking [laughs] and just kind of surprisingly connect[ing] with being Indigenous because I was fair in my family [and] I was never really allowed to own being Native. Dawn described the lack of cultural connection as the last missing piece to feeling whole and healed. Even though she had moved forward from the violence in her life and created a new path of peace for herself, rooting herself in her ethnicity and culture brought her a sense of connection, love, acceptance, and understanding.   Faith commented that her reflection about the history of her family and her people, also 87  helped her to feel a sense of connection and community. She had spoken about issues such as colonization, residential schools, and alcoholism that affect not only herself and her family, but many Indigenous people:  It wasn't until recently that I entered into a program that really helped me understand where people come from, where I come from, my mother, my father. . . . I guess just thinking about what has happened to them, where my families had come from. Ashley stated that she used to struggle with feeling disconnected from herself and her culture but  through time and healing, she began to understand that the history of Indigenous people was  embedded in her life history as well. Learning about her ancestors helped bridged the gap in understanding the pain that her and many other Indigenous people experience:  I would wonder, "What am I here for?" You know, "Why? Why would somebody put me in this situation?" You know, "Why would God do that?" I don't blame God anymore you know, I blame this five hundred years of oppression and I teach people about that and hopefully they learn from that and under-take some understanding that we're not flawed Indigenous people, we're not flawed people. We're strong, proud people, we're still here.  Ashley expressed that her deeper connection to her roots allows her to continuously spread strength and sense of Indigenous community to others.   Mutual understanding. Participants were in agreement that Indigenous ways of being were different than Western culture. Ashley shared that this was a detriment to her process in  ending a violent intimate relationship:   I went to one transition house and I didn't like it, it was all white people and uhm, it wasn't comfortable. I think white people communicate differently than we do. I still believe that [laughs]. I was at a forum today and I just think oh my God, we communicate  88   differently [laughter], you know, we think differently, we practice differently. On a different note, Dawn explained that her violent intimate relationship was hard to leave because her ex-partner and his family truly understood and accepted her and her life experiences. She stated that their mutual understanding, way of life, and way of communication formed a bond that was fundamental for her need to connect and be understood:  He was fair in an Indigenous family and we really connected just–whether it was that or something else, or something about his family. Like, I really–I fell in love with his family as much as I fell in love with him because I understood their humor, I understood the way they communicated. I understood their tragedies, I understood all the things that had happened to them that were violent and terrible and I recognized that in the life that I had had and that they were okay with the life I had had. Michelle shared that she began to build agency in her life when she was able to connect with other Indigenous women going through similar life experiences:  So I think that's where I really started growing, I'm talking to a lot of these Aboriginal women that are single mothers and you know, I even connected with some of them that had went through that as well too.  Jodi's experience of IPV was very unique in that of all the women, she was the only one who had done healing work with her partner. Jodi is still married to the same partner and they have been living free of IPV for over twenty five years. She explained that her husband had entered a program for assaultive men in order to do the work on himself, and later founded an organization which she oversees, to help other Indigenous couples heal through IPV. She explained that when people learn that her and her husband (organizer and founder) managed to overcome the pain of IPV as a couple, it allowed those that were seeking help to feel a sense of mutual understanding, 89  which provided hope for their futures:  And he did, he did. He did that program, he went through it twice and that helped me then to say okay, we'll see how it goes from here and I guess that's where we are today. We both work, he's the founder of this organization and we work with many people that have gone through what we have gone through and actually people have said it gives them hope to know and understand that we know what it's like for them because we went  through it and so, that's where we are today.  Positive influences/supports. Given that IPV is often silenced and those that are experiencing it are judged or labelled with a stigma, having positive influences and supports is vital in order to gain the wisdom and courage to make healthy changes in one's life. Several participants commented on how having role models in healthy intimate relationships and/or knowing people that they admired, helped them to envision a better life that they could strive towards. Faith spoke to this as she said:  You know, if they can kick that, then I can, or you know, I think even in terms of relationships. Just having that strength and seeing that strength in other women, other people, will help you kind of look beyond it. Faith had stated at several points in her story that good influences and supports had checked in with her at various stages in her life, and they encouraged her to live in a safe and healthy manner that she would be happy with. When concerned friends voiced their support for Faith, she recognized that they were aware of the IPV yet they had not isolated her or judged her. Feeling supported, she was able to be less defensive and more self-reflective about her choices and her ideals of life, which eventually lead to her ending the cycle of IPV. Michelle added to this sentiment by stating: 90   I remember somebody saying that to me long time ago [which] is, you need to be around positive people . . . It helped. Some of the ladies that I really connected with, that would even just check in to see you know, how are things going?. . . . I think just to have people in my life throughout where I could gain something, that I seen the strengths in them that helped me to finally be able to be strong enough to move on. As mentioned previously, Michelle had lost many friends throughout the tumultuous years of her violent intimate relationship, therefore, gaining new positive supports that were active in her life really helped to push her forward through difficult times.   Empowerment from other stories. This subtheme in particular is about the sharing and witnessing of oral stories. All women had stated that getting support from someone in the helping field or from a friend/family member was important, but they also indicated that there was something to be said of a collective group being together, vulnerable and connected, that helped the participants foster growth. Gathering with Indigenous women to share their stories of IPV was empowering for all participants, and they remarked that this remained true each time they had done so. Michelle commented on this sentiment as she described her experience working at the Friendship Center:   I seen strong women that worked there and it was that bond and I think you know when you can see somebody, your co-worker, or you see I don't know–I just always had open eyes and ears to hear people's stories and stuff and to get that support. . . . I guess I just hear other people's stories and figure out, like you know, I need to look at how my life was going at that time. Faith also mentioned that most of her learning came from the stories of others and that it was very valuable knowledge: 91   I think that I've learned a lot in my few short years and I learned a lot from other people. I think that's one of my biggest teachings is just learning from other people's experiences you know, and it's like, well, if they can do it I can. . . . That was one of my things, one of my ways of trying to get out, just having that support from loved ones, family, learning from stories and from others. Theme 4: Boundaries  This theme was at first expressed by participants as something that they had lacked in the earlier years of their violent intimate relationships. However, towards the end of the women's stories, as well as during the discussion, the theme emerged into a positive construct. All of the women spoke to some degree or level about the importance of having, setting, and following  through one's own personal boundaries.   Confidence. The majority of participants spoke about the lack of self-respect or confidence that they had in themselves. They noted that when they began to build their self-assurance, they were able to set boundaries about what they would not tolerate. Faith spoke of how she did not respect herself or her body because of a past trauma in her childhood, and that the effects of the trauma had led to violence and toxicity in her intimate relationships:  I had things that had happened to me as a child which broke my respect for myself and my body. All throughout my teens I didn't respect myself, I didn't respect my body, like I said I was very promiscuous and had a lot of short term relationships. Faith shared that she was often left questioning herself and her worth, "I thought well, you know, what's wrong with me? And I went through a bit of that phase where it was looking at the confidence thing." She elaborated that through the support of others she was able to reflect on why she didn't love herself, and that after some long and deep introspection, she learned how to. 92  When Faith was able to build confidence to prove to herself and others how much she cared for herself, she was able to set boundaries about how she would be treated and she ended the IPV in her life:  I never loved myself enough to just be okay with me, and just be okay with being alone and uh, it took me three years actually. I was single for three years, didn't date anybody and just wanted to prove a point you know, to that person and myself that I could do it, you know? And I do love myself, and it took a lot for me to grow beyond that. Michelle reflected about how the different forms of IPV took a toll on her self-worth and confidence:   It was tough. It was a lot of mental, physical, emotional, even spiritual [abuse] somewhat, because I was trying different avenues as a young person to find out who I was, but it was always a lot of [a] kind of an attitude too. Well, soon as I start doing something for myself he'd have to put down or like he'd have to put me down, so it was bad. Yeah. It was–it was very tough, it was. Michelle went on to describe how she gradually began to build confidence as she searched for meaningful employment. When she began to get support from the Friendship Center, she created stability and connections in her life that empowered her to start setting boundaries for herself. She explained this shift in her relationship:   So, I thought you know, I need to start maybe doing some counselling for myself and he was definitely not supportive of that kind of stuff right? It was, he was getting scared I think too, that I was growing. I was able to put my foot down somewhat more than I guess I had ever before. So, I just kind of kept on that but not really knowing, cause I still thought our relationship was going to get better. 93  Ashley shared a similar experience in that one of her previous partners was constantly trying to break down her self-esteem in order to prevent her from loving and improving herself:  Like, there was times I thought I was really imagining stuff in my head and that I was crazy, so being called crazy a lot you start to believe that as well. . . . So then I didn't feel good about trying to improve, you know my – being a mother – that's what it was, really, I was trying to be a better mother. However, just like Michelle, Ashley began to build confidence when she started to search for a meaningful purpose in her life. As she attended a life coaching course, she learned about boundaries:  My biggest empowering thing was that class and learning how to say "No", without giving explanations. It really angered my partner but I was more empowered the more I did it right? And I was able to learn about boundaries and what they were and how to set them. Jodi also echoed the fact that her partner tried to make her feel like she was crazy and would always find a way to question Jodi's state of mind in order to diminish confidence in herself:  No matter what I said, if I questioned something, if I brought something up, I was always the   loser because it would always come back to me you know. . . . So, he began to say I was imagining things and that, you know, like, made me think that maybe I am. Doubting. I began to doubt myself, cause maybe I am oversensitive? Maybe I am not really seeing what I'm seeing right? But, uhm no. He made me think that. For Jodi, her confidence and sense of boundaries began to build when she recognized the need to protect her children and herself from her husband's violent outbursts. She described a vivid moment of when the relationship began to shift as she drew boundaries with her husband: 94   But again, he spiralled out of control, he was drinking and drinking to the point of blacking out and always had excuses about you know like, "Oh yeah no, I don't remember doing that. I don't remember doing that." So one day I just said, "Well, you know when you take your first drink," I said, "you know what you're capable of." And he just kind of looked at me like, "Oh. Okay." I didn't take it as an excuse anymore for his behaviours.  Dawn's story was different from the other participants in the sense that she did not experience  physical abuse in her intimate relationships, although she had experienced it at the hands of her  mother throughout childhood. She indicated that she had the mindset of setting a boundary of  never experiencing physical violence again, "So, for me I was always very conscious of, "I don't  want this to be my life and I don't want this to be what happens to me." However, this strong  sense of self dissipated as she experienced the traumatic death of her father:   Then my father was murdered. So, at that time whoever I had been as a strong person before that who kinda survived all these things that happened, and was fighting to not be the things that I was surrounded by, kinda died? Like, I kind of, just sort of, closed up inside and that part of me really–I don't really remember her as much?  This tragedy shook Dawn to the core at a young age and as she struggled to find herself and  grieve for the loss of her father, she cycled through patterns of emotional, verbal, and mental  abuse with intimate partners:  So that type, that was sort of the abuse that I put up with. That I was invisible and it took me a really time to kind of figure out why I was doing that. . . . Men who weren't there for me, even though I was a very stable person, the abuse that I put up with was neglect. I chose to be invisible, I would be with people who I was with, you know, one day, and we 95  were so crazy to be together, we'd have so much fun but I would see him the next day when I was out with my girlfriends and he wouldn't acknowledge me and you know, I had that relationship for almost 10 years. Off and on throughout my whole entire twenties. Dawn then went on to describe different scenarios in which her on and off intimate partner  would manipulate her or steal from her. In one particular instance, Dawn stated that she suddenly  became very aware of how dangerous it was to allow him into her home and in that moment she  took responsibility for setting boundaries for her life as she asked herself, "How many times is  he–am I going to let this happen to myself?" As Dawn began to build confidence in her choices  and discover the strong sense of self she used to embody, she began to slowly work through the  process of ending that relationship and any further IPV in her life:  I had put it at arm's length and taken all the steps you know, from eight years ago, and from ten years ago and from all these long periods of time ago, each step of the way I kind of resisted in a different way.  Saying "No". Two of the participants, Ashley and Faith, talked about how they changed the narratives of their intimate relationships by learning how to say no to things. They both described a period of time in which they had engaged in several short intimate relationships, as they had tried to assert their boundaries in them by saying "No" to the relationship itself. For instance, Ashley noted how she had tried to set a boundary for toxic relationships after witnessing her parent's IPV and experiencing it in her first marriage herself:  So, when I think about that and my father and how he was towards my mother . . . I chose a husband who didn't physically abuse me but he did every other abuse there was. So, you know there's the verbal abuse, there's the emotional abuse, there's the financial abuse, the 96  psychological abuse . . . and that marriage ended, and I had one child out of that marriage. So, I stayed single a few years, thinking I never want to go through any of that again right? But in that time, being single, I drank a lot and with the drinking came a lot of relationships. Short ones, really disrespectful ones, and I thought I was doing right by myself by ending them quickly right? Ashley had gained some confidence and was able to set some boundaries after her first abusive relationship, however, although she had ended that relationship, she remained in the cycle of IPV  with different partners. After a series of short toxic relationships, Ashley experienced her next long-term violent intimate partnership:  You don't learn right away, that there's all these red flags right? So it was the jealousy, "Don't look at him," or, "I saw you look at him,". . . . but uh the abuse did get worse and even having knives to my throat. . . .I stayed and things got worse. . . . we had a daughter and so things got better probably for a couple years and then it starts all over again, you know, so, the cycle. We had two good years just loving our daughter, just being a couple, being a really good mommy and daddy and then it starts up again. It started just the way it did in the beginning you know, small things, accusations, suspicions. Ashley further commented that her struggle to say "no" to IPV and substance abuse was overcome after her life coaching course taught her the skills that she needed:  My weakest point was not being able to say "No" . . . every time somebody asks you for something in this class, you say "No". So every day after that somebody would say, "Hey Ashley you got bus fare? I can't get home", right? And I'd be grabbing my purse, then I'd go, "No, I really want to give it you but–", and then my next challenge was saying "No" without giving them an explanation and that was so hard. Like, I was conditioned you 97  know, as the oldest child  to just do everything you know, my parents would be out for days, and I'd be looking after my siblings so, I could never say "No" to them. I never could say "No" to my father because I was afraid of him. I could never say "No" to my mother because I felt sorry for her right? So I just did everything. Ashley went on to note that she is still someone that is willing to lend a helping hand but her life lessons in boundaries and values have held true. For instance, she told the sharing circle group, "I still overwork now [laughter] and I'm still giving but I know when to say "No" [laugher] but it's for good things right?"   Similarly, Faith expressed that she had a period of time where she had many short intimate relationships and that her way of asserting boundaries was by ending the partnerships quickly. When she realized that she had a problem with confidence and boundary setting, Faith ended her longer term violent relationship. For a period of three years Faith also said "No" to relationships and heavy alcohol usage in order to spend time to reflect on her unhealthy patterns.  Confrontation. Two out of the five participants recalled specific moments that they directly addressed and confronted the issue of IPV in order to assert their agency and their boundaries. The women described these moments of confrontation as points that shifted and/or changed the trajectory of their relationship, which in turn assisted them in their process of ending IPV in their lives. Jodi indicated that the cycle of violence was difficult to wrap her head around, as did all the other participants. She stated:  "I felt like you know, when you go into a relationship or a marriage you never think of those things that are going to happen. You just–you're in love! You have these expectations out of your marriage, out of your relationship and they're all good thoughts. . . . We never were really violent at that time but things began to happen. . . . Things began 98  to happen you know, not an ongoing [thing] but periodically there would be something. . . . I stayed, and for a while it seemed okay, you know the whole honeymoon stage, all about that cycle, but things didn't change. As the violence escalated overtime at different points in their relationship, Jodi found herself  getting fed up and confronting the violence in a sharp, fearless and direct manner:  I don't know why but I got to the point where I said to him–you know, because he had taken a gun out even thought he couldn't find where he put the main thing that he hid away from the kids right? I mean he couldn't find it but he was searching for his hunting gun and he's taken a meat cleaver to me to threaten me. So that one day I just said to him, I said, "You want to kill me?" I said, "You're going to kill me one day." I said, "You might as well do it now." And I just felt this thing inside of me like I can't, I didn't want to take anymore. I just thought, "Why do I have to wait now? Might as well do it", and I know at that point he just sort of looked at me like, and he kind of stopped. Jodi had explained that she gotten to many points where she was tired of it all and didn't care if she died at the hands of her husband or not. Although a very dangerous way of dealing  with the situation at hand, Jodi expressed that her determination for the violence to end despite  the final results gave her the boldness to confront the violence for what it was. Dawn also  reflected back on a moment of a dangerous confrontation in which she did not fear the  consequences for her directness:  I just remember turning to him and saying, "You can do whatever you want to me. You can hit me, you can throw me across the room. You can really hurt me, I can take a beating, I've done it my entire life. If you want to be one of those people who beats me like my mom, or my sister, my brother, if you want to be one of those people, be one of 99  them, because I know you'll never come in this home again. You'll never be here in my life again, so do it because it will give me the strength, you'll never be here again." So, he looked at me and he was just so angry and he's like, "You're fucking crazy!" and he didn't hit me, he left. Dawn further recalled smaller moments that she had confronted the IPV in her relationship with  her then partner. For instance she stated:   As things went on it was not so much a jealousy but it was, when he got bored he would pick fights and I recognized it and I would call him on it, but it got difficult because he would put me down in ways. Dawn added that it was a common pattern in her life to be reprimanded for confronting the  violence she experienced, even in her childhood:  I had cousins who were also allowed to be in our lives who were very violent with us, who–you know, they were kids, but at the same time that was like a thing that was in our house, that was like an accepted thing and people were very silent in our house about it. Like, when it happened? No one talked about it afterwards and you know, no one confronted it and I can remember being a little girl and confronting different things and really paying a price for it. She then went on to reflect on the time of her dramatic confrontation where she had challenged  her ex-partner to physically hit her, stating that the reactions were a result of her violence filled  upbringing:  Rather than being the person I was when I was younger who could take the beating, I actually at that moment realized that. Looking back now, I can say that I actually placed a value on my body and my person that I didn't place at that younger age when I was so 100  conditioned to taking the beating and knowing how to take it and still be the person who's like, kind and loving to everybody and cares for those people that have just hurt me. And instead in that moment it was a decision of, "I can't ever have him in my home again. I'll never ever be safe with this person. It doesn't matter if he ever gets sober, it doesn't ma–none of those things matter." Similar to Jodi, Dawn stated that although this confrontation was a defining moment for her, it  wasn't the end of that relationship. She noted that the moment was only a part of the cycle of  violence and part of the process of ending it:   And I'd love to say that the story ends there and I went off and lived this life that was like less complicated and I learned my lesson you know, but unfortunately he still got a hold of me, he still found me, he still called me, he still stalked me, he still showed up at my window and threw rocks at my window. But, the change was that I didn't allow him in my   home and that was a first step for me. For these two participants there were several moments of confrontations within their relationships that served the purpose of harnessing their strength and conviction for effectively ending IPV in their lives.  Putting both feet down. All the participants explained that their relationships were like rollercoaster rides with highs and lows, which made it difficult for them to not have hope that things would change for the better. However, each woman stated that they clearly remembered the distinct moment they felt they were fully ready to walk away. They all stated that they had a felt sense about the violent relationship ending and that there would be no going back to the cycle, like they had done before. Michelle stated that her ex-husband had gotten too heavy into drugs and it had gotten to the point where he had someone rob their house for drug money. She 101  remarked that this was the time she knew the relationship had to end for good:   So through that time then I knew that, ohh! I am not going to [laughs] I'm not gonna–I can't do that anymore, that was just too much of like, for so long I wanted–I could see what I wanted you know, for my life to be happy in a relationship and to share and grow and stuff. . . . It was pretty scary some parts of it but you know what? I learned from it. [laughter] I learned from everything right? As hard as it was. Ashley on the other hand knew that she was ready to leave her relationship after she had gone to her life coaching course. At that point she was ready to change her life because she had the support from classmates, as well as the resources, and confidence to assert her boundaries and follow through with them. She stated, "I could choose to leave and they could connect me to people and so that was when I decided to leave."  Faith reflected about the moment that she knew she had to discontinue her relationship  patterns. She reported that it was when someone had pointed out to her that she didn't love  herself enough to respect herself and her boundaries. At that point in time, Faith consciously  made a decision to put both feet down on the journey of ending the cycle of IPV and instead  spend time loving herself.   For both Dawn and Jodi, their last straw was the information of another woman being  involved in their partnership. Dawn described the ending of her cycle of  IPV as a wake-up  call to the fact that she no longer owed her loyalty to a man that did not respect her and therefore,  she was ready to end the IPV in her life:  So a couple years go by after that and life's gone on and things are moving on in our lives and I get this phone call out of the blue and he tells me he's married somebody but he's left her, he's separated. So we start talking on the phone and we go through the whole 102  motion of talking to each other like we're still in love or something but it's not real.  We just go through these motions and everything and then one day he calls me up after a while and he's like, "You know, I'm married and I really have to make this work." Like, why are you calling me? [scoffs] Like, why are you playing this game with me again? You know? Like, even though we're going through the motions, [for] whatever reason [at the] end of that, really, I collapsed. I got off that phone and I was just like a heap on the floor again. You know, I'm crying. I'm like, it's crazy when I think about it but I completely fall apart and after I kind of thought about everything. I realized that I had kept my promise to him when I was engaged to him and I was young and a girl. I promised to love him, I promised to stay with him, I promised all these things to him and I had kept my promise. So, my promises, all those things that I had said, once he was married to somebody else and he came to me and he broke my heart that way, I finally was free from those promises I had made. Jodi also felt that she had had enough when she heard news of her husband potentially being  unfaithful to her with a friend of hers:  He had backed off from the violence physical, so, you know to me that was like a such a relief you know, I felt more comfortable and then one day somebody phoned me at work told me, "I got something to tell you about your husband," and this person said, "It was twenty years earlier," or something to that. It was a time before, like twenty years earlier, "Your husband crawled into my bed and I know that he probably was thinking, I'm going to have sex but didn't so he crawled back out," and that person said, "I didn't tell you because one, I didn't want you hurt, [I was] protecting you," and all of that, but [she] found the time now to tell me that. I was devastated, I was hurt, I was angry, I was at my 103  job, I closed the door I was crying, I thought, what am I going to do, what am I going to do? I just–you know how emotions kind of go up and down in the relationship, you're okay for a while and then all of a sudden something happens. It takes all this time to get back to that place again and I'm going like, [ugh] . . . I can't go through anymore. I just thought what am I going to do and it just came to me like, I can't take anymore of this. I'm not going to take anymore of this, this is it! I've had it! I don't know what else that   person has done, I had it!  Jodi further elaborated that she prepared herself for her final moment of confrontation because  she had made up her mind about what she could no longer tolerate:  So, I went home, just waited. He came up the stairs from his work and I just confronted him, I told him what had happened that day and I said, "This is what I heard, this is what I know." I said, "I've had it. I've had it. I am not taking anymore, either you make some changes and you get some help or we're done." This is our 25th year of marriage, just when you think things are going to be okay, that happens. So, at that point I was ready. I was ready to leave or I wanted him to leave, or make changes and I said in this time, I said, 'You get your own help. I'm not going to carry you around getting help for you anymore", cause I had done that and [I] left it at that. We didn't talk anymore he just stood there, like normally it would end up in a big fight you know, I would get it and he just stood there and we didn't talk anymore. Jodi added that a few days after this situation, her husband had entered himself into a program  and did some healing, which in time resulted in them successfully ending their cycle of  violence. Theme 5: Breaking the Cycle   All of the participants shared how they had broken the cycle of IPV in their lives, in  104  addition to the ending of other unhealthy cycles/destructive behaviours within their own nuclear  family, or their family of origin.   Destructive Behaviors. Participants described how the ending of IPV led to the end of cycles and/or patterns of other destructive and unhealthy behaviours, that may or may not have been a direct precursor for the IPV itself.    Co-dependency. Several of the participants discussed how they struggled with co- dependency and/or cycling through short term relationships. Ashley indicated that she spent time  being single in order to value herself, after the end of her first violent marriage. After her second  violent long-term relationship ended and Ashley ended the cycle of IPV, she did not mention any  further to the group about other intimate relationships.  Similarly, Faith expressed that of the three years she spent being single, she learned that  she did love and respect herself, and that she was capable of being independent and self-reliant,  thereby, breaking the pattern of the need to constantly be in a relationship and/or cycling through  them for the sake of not being alone. Faith explained this by reflecting on her previous struggle  with co-dependency:  I always found comfort with somebody else, that co-dependence you know, just always wanting to have somebody there and I never loved myself. . . . That was the pattern that I saw even with my parents you know, they were never alone, they were always with somebody and my mom kicked my dad out when I was six years old and wasn't too long after that she had a boyfriend. And so, I don't know, I think that a lot of my childhood, like the things that I saw as a child, I know that [it] deeply impacted my–our   relationships. Faith went on to note that she did not want to one day pass this pattern on to her future children,  105  therefore, she was committed to continuously working on herself to prevent it from happening.  Conversely, Michelle shared that she was not one to socialize much when she was a teenager and that she did not have much experience with partnerships. Therefore, when she met her first real boyfriend at eighteen, she had the notion that once in a committed relationship, one had to stick through it no matter what. Michelle stated she had trouble navigating and understanding the complexities of love, marriage, and an intimate relationship:  I met my first real boyfriend that was long term at eighteen but then I also had my baby just when I turned nineteen. So, in my mind, I seen my mom and dad, they were true to marriage. It was the big thing, you're married and that was it. So that's how–what I came into a new relationship with and not knowing, you know, your first love and what not. . . .  Even my friends saw it. I had a friend that was really close with the school and she got pregnant, they got married, they stayed together and so to me, it was like you stayed in the–you make the best of it.  Michelle mentioned that she had wanted to try and help her ex-husband because he had gotten  deep into his substance addictions. However, in the process she learned of her own co-dependency issues:  It was about eleven years, we [the sharing circle] talked about guns, and we talked about knives and things, he was just very addicted in alcohol and drugs but then that's where I think the biggest growing for myself happened. . . . At one point I went through [a] treatment center too. I thought I could be able to help him, like, he had tried a couple times and didn't work out for him and I thought well, you know maybe, maybe I could go and then I just learned more about myself and I was like [laughs], Wow! I was co- dependent! [laughter] You know? It was just a big realization of a lot, a lot of things. 106  After Michelle gained self-awareness of her co-dependency and did some self-growth through counselling, she was able to end the co-dependent relationship and move forward into a healthy partnership with her current husband.  Substance use and partying. A common unhealthy addiction or habit for the participants was the use of substances and/or partying. Furthermore, all of the women's previous violent partners had issues with drinking and/or drugs. All participants also reported that they consumed substances and partied with their partners at some point in time, either in a tame social manner, or in an excessive toxic manner. Despite the level of consumption with their partners, all five of the women had indicated that they had to set boundaries for their partner's destructive behaviours in order to cease the problems associated with them. Moreover, two of the participants also struggled with substance use/abuse. Faith explained how alcoholism has been an issue within her family, her previous intimate partners and even at times herself:  My young brother wasn't abused by my father, my father never abused any of us but, I don't know if it's a relationship thing between my father and my brother but he seems to think–he goes, "because my dad did it, I can do it," and he's 28 years old and his livers and kidney are failing him. So I know alcohol has largely affected our family and my relationships too. Growing up Faith witnessed a lot of alcohol abuse and began drinking and partying at a young age herself. She described how she vaguely remembered having good childhood memories:  I remember my mom and dad they would play crib to see who would go out on a night out, who would go out and who'd stay home with the kids. So, you know, usually my dad would always win and then [go] for a long drunken weekend or a long drunken night and well, he'd always come home and abuse my mom. So, growing up it was really hard to 107  see that but also, I think because it happened so often it just became a norm like, I'd go and talk to a lot of my other cousins and same thing you know, a lot of abuse because they'd party quite a bit. But, I remember I was about three, four, five and some of those years you know like, [were] just when really bad things would happen . . . I don't know if I just became numb to it but I just like, I don't have a lot of memories from my early childhood years. Since Faith grew up watching her parents and family members engage in unhealthy behaviours, she found it difficult to recognize the same dangerous pattern she was living out for herself as an adult:  I moved into another relationship with this young man, and I should of seen the flag and the flag was there I just walked right by it and didn't really acknowledge it but, he was in treatment at the time and of course I grew up by the treatment center . . . He was in the program and he was young, he was happy you know, had a lot of goals and you know big   dreams and so we started dating and seeing one another and I mean, the alcohol really impacted the relationship.  Faith shared that when her partner was drinking he would often desert her in secluded areas or lock her out of his house in Northern B.C., after she would travel twenty one hours by bus to see him:  I never felt so secluded, so isolated, there were nights where he would kick me out of the house and I'd be sitting outside like in the forest and I literally was out in the forest. And I'd be looking for a place to stay, like I didn't have anywhere to go, you know? I was an hour from town and that was an hour's drive, and, that was around the time of the highway of tears issue came about and I knew then I wasn't going to hitchhike anywhere. 108  [I] just felt lost and he didn't care. Like, the next morning he would look for me of course but through the night I mean he was sound asleep or doing whatever he was doing. In addition to this, Faith stated that her and her partner would drink and party together and that it would escalate their problems and arguments, as they would both be intoxicated. She indicated that the fights had become aggressive and physically violent to the point where the police had been called by neighbours who had heard the commotion. Faith reflected that the neighbours showed concern for Faith, and urged her to leave the relationship. Shortly after this incident an alcohol counsellor who had been a long time friend approached Faith. After their conversation she took time to reflect how her alcohol consumption was negatively intertwined with IPV. As noted before, Faith remarked that she entered a program and did some healing work to end this negative pattern that had been passed down from her family.  Ashley also stated that she often went partying with her partner. She described how her partner would use these moments to intimidate or threaten her with his violent alcohol fueled outrages:  I think he was afraid I would leave so what he started to do was, when we'd be partying,   if there was a fight with another man he would beat the hellll out of that man and then look at me right? As to say like, you can see, see what I can do kinda thing, right? And so then I was always afraid of that but, I was afraid of that because I could see somebody either unconscious, bleeding, and [they were] bigger than me right? So I knew he could bring that harm to me.  In Ashley's experience, she indicated that she struggled with abusing substances when she was single, but that she also struggled with it when she was partnered as well:  So we got into cocaine and I remember my second daughter–I was changing her pamper, 109  she was about a year old and she had a really bad rash and I had sobered up and I just cried you know, because she was in so much pain, and I was going, you know, "This is me, this is me doing that to her," and I decided then that I was gonna quit drinking and so I quit for a year on my own and it was really hard because I didn't go to counselling. I didn't go to meetings because he was still there accusing me of this and that right? I couldn't leave the house, so I thought well, I'm going to go to treatment. Ashley then went on to say that although she continued to struggle with drinking in that period  of time, she was able to put down the substances indefinitely after having a safe place to express  her feelings and to cope:  So honestly, putting down my substances was my biggest strength. It gave me my feelings back and that class gave me the tools to express them and to be able to heal. . . . I believe you know, putting down the substances, healing, that was my way out.   IPV for self. As was mentioned previously, Jodi's story was a unique one in that she managed to end the cycle of IPV within her once very violent relationship with her husband.  Although  Jodi expressed that their relationship has never reverted back to the violent ways that  they once were, she reflected back on the cycle of IPV and how difficult the journey had been:   We had two children, and things seemed like they were fine. I mean, we did things with   the children, we were working and we travelled, you know, all those things going on. . . . Then it got to the point where we went through our ups and downs but I think around the 15th to the 25th year of our marriage that it was at its worst. I mean he would do things   like–I felt for my life sometimes.  Jodi concluded her story with stating that her and her husband now have a healthy union, and  that they enjoy working together to help other individuals and couples who have experienced  110  IPV.   Ashley also reflected back on how difficult the rollercoaster cycle of IPV was in her two  long term relationships. She described her final exit out of her second relationship as liberating and indicated that she was not in a partnership. Whereas, Faith shared that after spending three  years being single after her last violent relationship, she was currently in a violent free  partnership for three years.   Dawn discussed how she had an on and off relationship with her ex-partner, and that even  the people she had dated in between, mirrored the same type of IPV pattern:  He left and you know, he left me over and over again for the next eight years. He never came back–he did, like he would call me like he was coming back but he never came back, he left. He would call, he would stalk me, like he would find me. . . . These times that he came in my life he stole from me. . . . So, I went through this thing of being robbed like you know, he would come over and say I need to pay the cab driver and he would take that money and I wouldn't see him. And so, this went on for about eight years on and off and in the meantime I had this other relationship with this man who was completely unavailable and I had other people that came in and out of my life that were good men, that for whatever reason, I just couldn't bring myself to be with and so I went through this pattern of him just showing up in my life. . . . The process of coming out of–trying to fight that violence that I grew up and with trying not to be that and trying to not have that in my life was a really long and drawn out process for me.  When that relationship finally did end for Dawn, she indicated that she did the same things as Faith and took some time being single in order to to work on herself and to reflect on her relationship choices and patterns. Dawn then noted that once she started to understand the cycle  111  of IPV in her life and was ready to choose differently, her current husband appeared into her life:  I finally was able to actually move on from that relationship and just after I kind of came to that realization and decided I could break those promises now, I actually met my husband and, my life just went in a totally different direction. My husband is like this really big personality with a really great sense of humor and I sort of realized that I'm now with the better part of my father rather than the part of my father that was the criminal, that was the man that was in jail, that was the man who's messed up, who never let go of my mom, who was violent with my mom you know. All of those things. Dawn continued on to say that she felt her story of IPV may have been different from the other  participants because she was not physically abused by her intimate partners, but she still  experienced a great deal of pain and struggle:  So that's kind of my story, it's a different story because as an adult I really didn't get–the men didn't physically hurt me but I spent so much of my life being invisible and punishing myself for the things that happened that were out of my control. It was very   difficult to move forward and allow myself to accept a person who wasn't that way. Like Dawn, Michelle discussed how she had also ended the cycle of IPV and married a good partner. She recalled the rollercoaster of emotions and the difficulty in being in a toxic and unhealthy relationship, and contrasted it to her loving and respectful second marriage:  When you're in it, it seemed like it was normal I guess. . . . Like, you know, cause there was some good times for sure as well too and two little boys and doing all the family stuff that you try to do but it always seemed like he – we cause we're both in the relationship – could only get to a point where things were good for a bit and then it just had to like dramatically–something super bad had to happen! And then back up [we go], 112  so that police were involved in our lives too–way too much, when you look back now. . . . So after we ended our relationship he actually left peacefully, which was amazing because I never expected that that would happen. . . . I'm blessed now, yeah! My husband is like, "Do you want me to come?" I'm like, "No? You can't come! [laughter] [He says] "I'll show you really are!"  Violence in family of origin. All five women had witnessed IPV between their parents  and three of them also expressed that their grandparents had a violent relationship. Furthermore,  all of the women had mentioned that residential schools played a role in their parents and/or  grandparents lives. Additionally, four of the women noted that their previous violent partners  had also experienced/witnessed violence in their homes as well. Three of the five participants  expressed the change of the cycle of IPV that happened within their family of origin, in that the  silencing of the violence ended, and relationships within the family were restored through  healing and open dialogue. Jodi described how she didn't recognize how much IPV and family  violence was silenced in her community, and how the silencing of it within her own home  really affected her. As Jodi reflected back on this, she stated that she realized violence was going  on in many of the homes, thus, nobody dared to broach the subject and/or interfere with other  people's family matters on the reserve:   When I needed – my siblings and I needed – someone to comfort us while we're going through what we're going through, no one was there for us. I think because it was like –everybody mind our own business – because that happened in their homes as well. So, I would sit on the neighbour's porch and I['d] just cry and cry. Jodi commented that when she had gotten older, her family broke the silence, in that she had an open dialogue with her sister about the history of IPV between their parents and the effects of it.  113   Faith shared that when she had gone through a program to work on herself, she also took a deeper look into the history of her family. She ended the cycle of silencing IPV within her family by having discussions about it:  Looking back, my mom put up with [it]for a number of years and I think back to well, why did she allow that to happen you know? And it wasn't that she allowed it to happen, it was just a normal thing for her as well. Her mom – my grandma – and her stepdad–he led an abusive life and would beat her and she would suffer. The little two younger ones were both handicapped and so it was my mother who was always looking after them and if they did anything wrong she was punished. She could never have anything that they couldn't have. She wasn't his child and so you know, he got away with beating her a lot, and then my father he was part of the 60's scoop so he didn't go to residential school but he was you know, in the foster care and had suffered a lot of abuses. I don't know, I don't think anybody really knows, but I know it was enough for him to become numb to it and not talk about it. . . . Residential schools. . . . the abuses in the relationships, I talked about this with my family. Faith stated that when she broke the silence of violence and talked about it with her family, she learned to have compassion for herself and for others. Faith also expressed how learning to have compassion helped her to find forgiveness.   Dawn also shared the fact that she was able to find forgiveness for herself and others. She  indicated that she experienced major and transformative healing with her mother, in regards to the cycle of violence and IPV in her family of origin. She reflected back on one particular abusive altercation between her and a family member, and explained that when she decided to take a stand her mother resented her, and that this caused a huge rift between her and her mother: 114   Although I made my mom call the police and I went through the court, my mother resented me so much for having stood up for myself and I really had to do that by myself even as the little girl I was. . . . So, I kind of have always had these really violent things that I believe as a people you carry with you, like the history of all these things that happened to the people before us but, even within my own life. I had this history that was a lot of violence and a lot of hatred and just a lot of separation. However, despite the conflict and even extreme violence between Dawn and her mother, through healing and counselling, the two were able to heal individually and together to form a strong,  loving, and supporting bond:  [It was a battle to] forgive myself for the times when I was really angry at my mom because, well, she was really messed up and she really did what she, you know, knew what to do.  I was lucky my mom went through a tremendous change and did a lot of healing work and she's a really good grandma to my siblings, their kids, and we have a really great relationship now. It is evident here that the incredible change in Dawn's life and in her relationship with her mother  reflects how she was able to end the cycle of violence for herself and her family of origin.  Intergenerational IPV. Three of the participants had had children from the relationships in which they had experienced IPV, and they each stated that their children witnessed the violence. Jodi did not make any reference to how her children had fared with the violence between her and her husband. However, she did note, as mentioned previously, that at one point in time she had put an end to her husband's violent discipline towards the children. Jodi explained that she knew her husband's behaviour had been learned from his own father, thereby she wanted to protect her children from the cycle of abusive parenting. Ashley on the other hand 115  indicated that the IPV had negatively affected one of her children, specifically the daughter that had witnessed her ex-partner attempting to stab her:  Oddly enough though, my one child that I looked at that morning and decided I'm going   to do something different, is the one I have the hardest time with to this day. It's not fair, but yeah. So, I just have to be here still for her and still support her and love her still no matter what and hopefully she'll come out of it and not put up with abuse, because I see the red flags you know in her relationship choices and you know, I see bruises on her and, I see that glazed look you know that she gets and I know that look because I would have it. As for her other children, Ashley expressed that they were kind and respectful adults, therefore,  alluding to the fact that they had managed to escape the cycle of intergenerational IPV:  I raised my kids really to the best that I could. I haven't drank in twenty two years and they're all adults now and they're all really kind, gentle, loving, respectful young adults and that's all I wanted. Similarly Michelle wanted to be proactive in raising her children differently to avoid passing  down the intergenerational cycle of IPV. She expressed that she wanted to ensure she broke the  taboo of asking questions about violence, and to ensure it would never be silenced again.  Michelle went through various types of counselling and had her children see counsellors as well  to ensure healing took place after the many traumatic moments in their lives:  I then put–got my kids to go to counselling as well too, because it was some tough stuff. . . . So now with my kids it's something that I openly talk [about]. We've got six kids, three of mine, my husband has three and we've got five grandkids. My parent's too were [in residential schools]–not my adopted parents, [they] were not in residential. My [adopted] 116  mom may have. I think she said for a little bit but they only went to like grade two but still, it was still that that mentality right? She didn't openly talk about that stuff and so . . . I do openly talk with the kids about it . . . So yeah, I'm just looking forward to seeing the grandkids raised and stuff. Dawn expressed that because of her very violent childhood, she was very concerned about the possibility of intergenerational violence. In order to prevent this from happening, Dawn remarked that early on in life she made a conscious decision not to bare any children:  When I was younger and I had to take care of my siblings, there were times when I hurt them because that's what I knew and that's what was done to me. And as a kid I didn't know how to control them. . . . because I would be punished for the things that they did. My brother and sister really were not held accountable for almost anything our entire lives because my mom really felt that I had it easier and I had much more opportunity than my brother and my sister. So, it really developed a separation from me and my family and so, I went through all of it and you know, my mom just never really stopped being violent with me. . . . Even though my dad was a very violent person, you know, he was like sort of this figment of somebody who loved me so much cause he did make me feel very loved and he never actually hurt me. What he did was, when he would get mad at my sister he would have me hurt my sister and that was actually why my mom left him in the end. . . . The violence and everything I think has always kinda been in me? And I've always kinda been afraid of it? . . . I did really consciously somewhere in my early years decide not to have children, which was [a] very difficult thing now that I'm in a healthy relationship and we can't have children, because I was so deathly afraid that I would hurt the children that I had.  117  Although Dawn is not able to have children of her own, she expressed that her fulfillment comes  from loving and caring for her nieces. She described a conversation that she had had with her one  niece that explained how she is committed to ending the intergenerational cycle of family and  IPV in her family:  A couple years back my niece asked me, "What do you think your purpose in life is?"  Cause you know, she's like 20 and she's trying to figure out her life and everything and  she's like, "What do you think you need to still do?" And I said to her, "Well I feel like  I've reached my purpose in life. I felt that my purpose in life was to break the patterns of  my family and my family's history", and by marrying a good man and having a healthy  relationship, that I broke the pattern so that my nieces will not have that pattern, and I'm  the example for them.118   Figure 1: Thematic Mind Map. All five themes were identified by the participants, subthemes were also generated in the focus group as isolated and general abstracts of analysis. Those that are in parentheses are displayed in the map to show the organization of the coded data, but are not considered full sub-themes. Within the findings they are collapsed into each of their corresponding sub-themes. 119  Chapter 5: Discussion  This study explored how Indigenous women described their experiences of ending intimate partner violence. Unfortunately, within the literature and popular media, this topic typically generates many negative dialogues which leaves no room for discussion about Indigenous peoples resilience. Thus, for my research, I wanted to shed light on the empowering aspects of Indigenous women's stories, in order to learn about their strengths and courage to move forward in their lives. Furthermore, I had hoped to create a setting where women could feel a sense of community and inspiration, to contrast the stigma and silencing of violence. Lastly, the efforts of this research was to provide a preliminary base of meaningful knowledge that is otherwise scarce in scholarly literature. It is vital to discover the ways in which Indigenous women conceptualize their experiences of ending IPV in their lives in order to design research informed practices that are culturally appropriate and applicable. The following discussion of these research findings are in relation to the existing theoretical literature, followed by a section on the novel contributions of this study. Suggestions for cultural implications within counselling psychology practice will be shared, alongside the limitations of this study and the potential possibilities for future directions of this research. Implications for Theory   Congruent findings. The stories and findings of this research exemplify the fact that IPV is a complex phenomenon, particularly for Indigenous women. All five levels of the socio-ecological theory played a role with the etiology and resolution of IPV in the women's lives.  At the individual level, being female and having low social economic status, contributed to  participants experiences of IPV. Furthermore, participants highlighted that having low confidence or low sense of self exacerbated experiences of IPV, as Brownridge (2003) had also  120  found. In congruence with McGillivray and Comaskey's (1999) findings on interpersonal risk factors for IPV, participants in this study had also been exposed to IPV in their families, were victims of violence, and/or had history of violence within their family of origin. Additionally, participants mentioned other risk markers at the interpersonal level similar to what Brownridge (2003) had identified. This included circumstances both within one's family of origin and/or one's own nuclear family or personal life, such as: having a large family size; low family stability; and previous marriages or common law partnerships. At the institutional/organizational level, one participant stated an organization (shelter) was unhelpful when she had left her violent partner, and another stated that a cab service in particular made circumstances more difficult during one part of her process of ending IPV. These issues raised by participants are complementary to previous research of the authors Little and Kaufman Kantor (2002) who have indicated that social structures/organizations can impede the assistance women are seeking when attempting to end the cycle of IPV in their lives. Within the realm of the fourth level of community, which “focuses on the current or historical relationships of members of a cultural or affinity group” (Bopp, Bopp, & Lane, 2003; p. 51), several participants had mentioned how colonization had a lasting effect on Indigenous peoples and that this posed as a risk factor for IPV to operate in their community or at societal level. As previous research has reported, collective trauma on the social community is passed down inter-generationally alongside the maladaptive social and behavioural patterns that are symptoms of it (Archibald, 2006). In terms of physical community, one participant shared how at times the social structures of reserves constrained their family's life and contributed to the increased risk of violence and/or aided in the entrapment of IPV. For the last risk marker level of society, societal beliefs and/or constructions of masculinity; gender roles; patriarchy; and governmental laws, policies, and statutes about 121  violence was not described in participants stories explicitly, however, there were notes made on how colonial and oppressive beliefs of society affect Indigenous nations. In conclusion, the Indigenous women in this study indicated that in order to end IPV in their lives healing had to occur at many levels, especially in terms of cultural connection, community, and a sense of belonging. A more in-depth review of the most emphasized levels of risk markers and themes for ending IPV, as expressed by the participants, will be discussed below.  Confidence, self-worth, and identity (individual level). Each participant discussed in detail their experiences of feeling low self-esteem or low confidence while in violent intimate partnerships. This effect of IPV was pervasive in other areas of their life as well, thus, it had a debilitating effect that prevented them from healing and enacting agency in their lives. For instance, participants in the study mentioned how their abusive partners made them feel low about themselves to prevent them from moving up or moving forward in their lives (i.e., attaining education or employment; seeking counselling; improving parenting skills; leaving the relationship). These findings are consistent with current literature about the negative effects of IPV for women's identities and well-being. The lack of self-worth had Indigenous women feeling "stuck" or trapped in the cycle of IPV, and without having a strong representation of their own self-identity and worth, it lead to the exacerbation of violence or further victimization (Anderson, 2000). Indeed, researchers have cited low self-esteem as a risk factor and a consequence for IPV (Kafele, 2004; Renner & Whitney, 2012). Shea, Nahwegahbow, & Andersson's (2010) study suggested that having a positive self-identity is linked to a greater sense of self-esteem and self-value. Moreover, Place (2012) has suggested an association between positive self-identity and the use of traditional healing practices. That is, as a positive self-identification of Indigenity increases, the perceived importance of access to traditional Indigenous healing does as well. As 122  prior research has noted, Indigenous women uniquely encounter higher rates of stereotyping, racial discrimination, and marginalization, as opposed to non-Indigenous women, and they have been subjected to this historical abuse for generations, which further contributes to the risk of IPV (Puchala, Paul, Kennedy, & Mehl-Madrona, 2010). Brownridge (2008) also confirms this assertion with his study examining racism and discrimination and its impacts on Indigenous families. The participants in this study described how feeling grounded and connected to their roots, culture, traditions, and people, helped them build confidence in themselves and their identity, which encouraged them towards the process of ending IPV in their lives. Likewise, Heavy Runner and Marshal (2003) reported that Indigenous people who are able to re-build or discover their Indigenous identity through a de-colonizing lens have greater resilience in times of stress. Thus, the findings of this research converge with previous literature in stating the importance of cultural identity for Indigenous women as a protective factor against violent intimate relationships.   Historical trauma and intergenerational IPV (interpersonal level). The significant impact of family history trauma on each participant also aligned with existing research on the ways in which colonization and oppression have negatively affected Indigenous nations, and has continued to, through intergenerational violence. Studies have connected colonization and oppression to IPV, substance abuse, and economic marginalization for Indigenous people (Jones, 2008), in addition to increased rates of violence and the impairment of support systems such as family for Indigenous females (Bubar & Thurman, 2004). Similar to Jone's (2008) qualitative findings, participants from this study also perceived IPV as internalized oppression resulting from historical trauma. As cited in Goulet et al.'s (2016) literature review on IPV and Indigenous women, it has been said that, "Domestic violence cannot be understood unless contextualized 123  within the historical experiences of Aboriginal peoples" (p. 12). Participants echoed this sentiment in this study, as they all mentioned the effects of violence within their family roots and among Indigenous people as a whole. Cultural genocide, forced uprooting from families, relocation and assimilation, sexual exploitation and abuse, discrimination and other oppressive and violent colonizing practices have had numerous long lasting detrimental effects on Indigenous nations and therefore, has caused a complex web of intergenerational trauma symptoms (Assembly of First Nations, 1994). All participants spoke of their parents and/or their grandparents being in residential schools, in addition to having IPV, substance abuse, and maltreatment of children in their family history. In turn, participants stated that they too experienced violence in their intimate relationships, substance abuse within themselves and/or their partner, and that their children had witnessed IPV, or experienced violence as well. Thus, historical oppression and violence has been imposed on Indigenous people through colonization, and has been perpetuated intergenerationally among families (Burnette, 2015a; 2015b; 2017). Moreover, "adults who were raised as children with violence in residential schools, often have no other framework to support positive parenting, and consequently may respond to children with violence" (Goulet et al., 2016, p. 16). Additionally, Burnette's (2017) study on patterns of cumulative disadvantages in Indigenous women's lives revealed that Indigenous women endure overlapping and cumulative victimization experiences, with connections between childhood maltreatment and involvement in unhealthy relationships. These reports were in congruence with the findings of this study in that women who had experienced violence in their family of origin, also faced violence in their own lives, with overlapping victimization through various forms of contemporary oppression and marginalization (i.e., poverty) which limited their mobility to emerge from unhealthy relationships.  124   Cultural Connection (community level). Participants expressed in different forms about the importance of cultural connection in healing from past family historical traumas, in addition to healing from the pain of IPV. The participants identified the empowering effects of cultural connection as: a sense of belonging; positive attachment to a community; mutual understanding; and/or shared worldviews and ways of being. This parallels the findings of previous research that emphasizes “cultural continuity” and common history as strengths for many Indigenous families who are impacted by IPV and family violence (Kirmayer et al., 2003). Furthermore, Homel, Lincoln, and Herd (1999) noted that when support emerged from within Indigenous families and networks, it provided valuable resources due to the comfort of shared identity, history and coping strategies. Additionally, Heavy Runner and Marshal (2003) indicated that, "A resilience perspective increases the collective ability of individuals, families, communities, and tribes to realize the best in themselves — and to assist others" (para. 10). This was evident in the study as participants indeed spoke of the strength in receiving support from family and other Indigenous people. Other authors have also reported that family support ameliorated the effects of violence. For instance, Goulet et al. (2016) reported that across research on Indigenous peoples, family connections and supports were cited as a key protective factor against IPV.   Further congruence in the findings of this study and previous literature is demonstrated by other author's reports of how traditional knowledge and practices of Indigenous culture are known to be protective factors against IPV (Shea et al., 2010). De-normalizing violence was highlighted by participants in this study as integral to ending the cycle of IPV, as all had described violence and trauma as common and "normal" among their families and their family history. The significance of deconstructing imposed colonial ideas of family structure, values, and norms, and replacing them with traditional values and beliefs was highlighted by Indigenous 125  women as important in preventing future violence and ending the cycle of IPV within one's own relationship, but also inter-generationally. Previous research has also identified that, increased participation and re-learning of cultural practices and norms were powerful sources of strength and healing (Goulet et al., 2016; Homel et al., 1999; Kirmayer et al., 2003; Shea et al., 2010), and re-building positive connections through traditions fostered resilience (Heavy Runner & Marshal, 2003). On a further note, Place (2012) has suggested that for Indigenous people living in urban areas, it is more important to have access to traditional healing practices rather than mainstream services.   Protective factors. Participants spoke about factors that assisted them during the process of ending IPV, while also ending other destructive behaviours (i.e., substance use, partying, co-dependence) in their lives. In alignment with Pedersen et al.'s (2013) study, one participant expressed that they needed a culturally safe place to live such as a shelter, transition home and/or affordable supportive housing. In line with Anderson and Saunders (2003) findings, participants highlighted the need for meaningful careers, education/training opportunities, childcare, and social and emotional support. Specifically, the participants described the most helpful types of social and emotional support to be people or organizations that provided resources, life skills workshops, and a safe place/person to share their experiences with, so as not to receive judgemental reactions. Furthermore, they indicated that healing through professional helping services (i.e., counselling; traditional healing practices; treatment centers; self-growth programs) and learning wisdom from elders, friends, family, or others that had similar experiences, were essential during their journey out of IPV.   Contrasting findings.   Social structures/organizations (institutional level). Although there was mention of the 126  organizational level of risk markers for IPV, participants did not place much emphasis on this aspect in their experiences of ending IPV in their lives. One participant briefly mentioned that the shelter she had gone to was not helpful because she did not identify with the other women who were there. She indicated that she needed a place with other Indigenous women in order to connect through shared beliefs, language, and values. Another participant mentioned that when she had attempted to escape from her husband after a violent altercation, the taxi company she had called did not take her safety requests seriously, which led to an escalation of the situation. Fortunately, the taxi company eventually recognized the situation as dire, and heeded the participant's request. To this account, these findings themselves are not divergent from previous literature, but, the minute mentioning of the institutional level as a risk marker is a contrast from other studies that highlight and underscore it.   Gender beliefs and patriarchy (societal level). Participants made no explicit statements on how societal beliefs in gender roles, patriarchy, constructions of masculinity, or polices and laws on violence, play a role in IPV. Conversely, other studies have labored the point that patriarchal gender roles and sexist beliefs are root causes or risk factors for IPV (Burnette, 2017; Dalla et al., 2010; Jones, 2008; Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015). Participants did mention that their partners had controlling demeanours, but did not remark further on the subject. The participants who had children also noted that their ex-partners often abdicated responsibility for financial or child-rearing duties, but again had no further comments about the reasons or beliefs behind it. However, a possible reasoning behind this could be explained by previous literature on the phenomenon of "horizontal violence", which is an individual's responses to experiencing the internalization of dominant beliefs, such as patriarchal oppression (Freire, 2000). For instance, Indigenous men who have internalized patriarchal beliefs may take on colonial values as their 127  own, but lash out by becoming violent towards those who have lesser power such as women and children, in order to regain some control (Jones, 2008; Matamonasa-Bennett, 2015). Although it is the case that women in this study did not explicitly state Indigenous men's patriarchal beliefs as part of their experiences of IPV, they did acknowledge the horizontal violence on Indigenous peoples in terms of the effects of colonization on intimate relationships and family life.    Novel contributions. The themes that emerged from this narrative study replicated previous findings within the scarce amount of research on IPV against Indigenous women. Furthermore, the themes were also found to be well situated in the research on IPV in general. Nonetheless, to the best of my knowledge, this is the only study in the literature that has used this unique method of combining both traditional Indigenous ways of being and modern research approaches in order to utilize the strengths of both, while maximizing participant collaboration by having participants analyze the data themselves. Of the limited literature on IPV against Indigenous women, the majority of studies use research methods that provide the principle researcher complete control and voice over the analysis of the data and final reports of the findings, if not the entire research process. This is particularly problematic for research that is done with Indigenous peoples, as asserting interpretive voice and power over Indigenous peoples' experiences is only continuing contemporary forms of oppression. Using a narrative methodology, which has been identified as re-empowering to Indigenous ways of being (Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, 1995), but instead incorporating traditional sharing circles as a data collection method rather than using narrative interviews, honors Indigenous practices and culture. Using traditional sharing circles also allows for an opportunity for healing to occur thus, this study has elements of  transformative research as well. Using a collaborative and participatory research design shifted the power dynamics in the study which 128  gave room for participants to be both an expert in their experiences, and in their knowledge. In this sense, the women in the study played dual roles as participants sharing their stories and as researchers analyzing the data. As Indigenous people have been historically silenced, this research design was vital as it provided a platform for the participating women to use their voices and to be heard.   As the power of storytelling in a sharing circle provides a collective nature and a sense of shared understanding (Nabigon et al., 1999; Restoule, 2004), is it not surprising that the women in the study expressed that taking part in the sharing circle and collaborating in the analysis, provided them a sense of strength, pride, community, healing, and closure. The participants engagement in the focus group discussion fostered the ability for all women to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences, in addition to the experiences and perspectives of others. Participants expressed that they had learned novel things about themselves and the phenomenon of IPV even though they had previously shared their stories with other individuals and/or within similar contexts/environments (i.e., talking/sharing circles). Moreover, several participants had felt an immense sense of trust and safety within the group, and it enabled them to express intimate and vulnerable parts of their story that they had not shared with others before. It was empowering to be a part of this group of Indigenous women who shared their secrets, sorrows, and wisdoms, as there was a strong felt sense of community, solidarity, and sisterhood within the circle. Despite the sensitivity and heaviness of the topic, the tone of the group was positive, light, and warm hearted. All of the women in the group expressed gratitude for being able to share a sacred space with the other participants, as the women noted the strong therapeutic and healing effect of: sharing their stories; being heard and understood;  learning, engaging, and reflecting with others; and building bonds and connections. Therefore, the sense of community within this 129  research developed quickly and strongly, providing evidence that this research design was valuable and meaningful to the participants. The study fostered the development of genuine trust and care for all those in the group, including myself and the facilitator. This in turn led to a greater development of personal wisdom and knowledge among the participants, in addition to the knowledge gleaned from the findings of the data. Implications for Counselling Practice  Intimate partner violence is a complex phenomenon, especially for Indigenous peoples as there are many layers of this issue embedded within each other in terms of etiology: effects; risk and protective factors; preventive measures; and restorative/healing measures. Although there are many things that are yet to be known on this topic, IPV against Indigenous women has been established as "an issue of entire communities and nations of people as it exists within and between generations, and is intertwined with a myriad of historical, social and economic conditions" (as cited in Goulet et al., 2016, p. 13). In spite of the fact that there are commonalities between IPV of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, it is important not to generalize data or to dismiss any differences as minimal, especially when IPV rates are exponentially higher for Indigenous women. Indigenous peoples life experiences are uniquely different in that their ancestors and personal family lines have suffered through the societal violence of colonization and oppression, which has been carried forward and continued to this day. The negative impact of residential schools and the many abuses that came with it are of unspeakable measures, as societies across the globe continue to witness the effects of historical trauma on Indigenous nations. Thus, IPV must be situated in context and cannot be only considered a problem of a particular couple or household (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996). Western ways of therapy tends to focus on the individual as the main target and 130  agent for change, however, counsellors need to be cautious with how they approach IPV in counselling. Using solely an individualistic framework in therapy creates a victim blaming stance, that only serves to continue the victimization, oppression, and marginalization of Indigenous women. Hence, counsellors must shift towards a systemic and relational framework, in addition to adopting an empowerment based perspective, to recognize the impact of historical and present day trauma that Indigenous women face. Furthermore, Goulet et al. (2016) reiterates Bopp et al.'s (2003) point that IPV against Indigenous peoples should be seen as a "constellation of social problems that operate together, and at higher frequencies than demographics would dictate, such as higher than expected levels of poverty, substance misuse and child welfare involvement" (p. 13). Therefore, counselling with Indigenous peoples who are dealing with, or who have experienced IPV, must be seen through a variety of lenses in that, counsellors must recognize the different interplay of levels that are involved in IPV. Yuan et al. (2014) has indicated that holistic interventions that address Indigenous women's suffering across one's life course are needed.    In terms of cultural implications, it is important for counsellors to recognize that there are differences between Western ways and Indigenous ways of being, and that attempting to fit Indigenous people into Western ideals, is a form of modern colonization and oppression. Moreover, counsellors must also honour and be open to Indigenous beliefs and practices, and if possible, incorporate them into sessions or encourage clients to seek them out, should that be what an Indigenous client wants and/or needs. Lastly, feeling culturally understood in a safe environment was the key to healing for the women in this study, as having a sense of community, shared identity/culture, and a sense of belonging helped the women rebuild their sense of self. When women felt more secure in themselves and/or were empowered by other 131  Indigenous women, they were more able to utilize their agency and strength. This is not to say that non-Indigenous helpers cannot be a part of the healing process, but that they must be sensitive and cognizant to how Indigenous peoples experience the world. Understanding and integrating traditional Indigenous practice and beliefs are essential in assisting Indigenous people in a way that is meaningful for them. This is significant for clients as well as for future generations, as participants stated that counselling and self-work were not only the cornerstones for the process of ending IPV for themselves but also for breaking the cycle of violence with their children and families. As demonstrated by my own non-Indigenous self, involvement and collaboration of traditional Indigenous practices can foster healing, transformation, and shared community in an impactful way for both self and other(s).  Limitations and Future Implications  As this research was essentially a pilot study in that the mixed forms of data collection  were at an early research design stage, it was inevitable that there would be limitations and/or ways to improve future research on this topic. One of the main limitations for this study was that only one participant responded to the member check. The findings of this study would have been strengthened if all members had provided feedback, as it would have increased the validity and worthiness of the research. The long delay between the participation of the circle/group and the receiving of the final write up could have been a factor in the low response rate. Future research could alter the research design by facilitating several focus groups over a period of time to ensure connections remain intact. Another way to improve the validity of this study would be to have expert peer-reviewers assess the credibility and usefulness of the findings within the counselling  context, but as well as other service fields.   Future research may wish to replicate this study to explore specific nations of Indigenous  132  women to discover more focused findings for different Indigenous groups. Tribes and nations vary in terms of knowledge systems, beliefs and traditions, thus, the ways in which Indigenous knowledge is applied in research may vary because of differences between nations (Lavallée, 2009). In addition, it is important to study Indigenous women residing in a variety of geographic locations, such as rural versus urban settings, or reserve versus non-reserve settings, as their experiences of IPV can be vastly different, especially in terms of the institutional and/or community level risk factors. Furthermore, organizational/community level risk and protective factors may be an area that needs to be highlighted in future research, as in this study very little was mentioned about it. Despite the participant's lack of focus on this area, it should not be looked over as inconsequential, as learning about helpful or unhelpful services has important implications fon an Indigenous woman's ability to seek and receive assistance.   All of the participants in the study had high levels of education, thus, it would be interesting to see this study replicated with Indigenous women who had different educational demographics. Although it is important to note that all the women were in the process of obtaining education, while also in the midst of  the cycle of IPV. Thus, education level may not necessarily be a differentiating factor between groups of Indigenous women, but more so a strong protective factor against IPV. The age range at which one ended IPV in their lives was quite different across the women in this study, hence, research on this topic may also want to examine the different levels and stages of development across one's life span in regards to the timing of the exit of IPV. Moreover, in terms of life stage, some women in this study were married and/or had children while they experienced IPV, whereas others were in vastly different places in their lives. These factors play a huge role in how, or when, an individual seeks help and/or ends IPV in their life. Subsequently, there was also a difference in the motivations (i.e. 133  children) for leaving or ending abuse, therefore, the things that one walks away with post-exit (i.e. guilt) may be something to examine more closely as well. Thus, these differences in experiences can be teased out and explored in depth to gather a more cohesive understanding of the complexity of life circumstances and IPV for Indigenous women.   Since this study had a very healing and therapeutic outcome, it may also be of interest for future researchers to collaborate with Indigenous women on longitudinal studies for this topic within a counselling context. In that sense, the therapeutic value of participating for Indigenous women would be experienced on a long term basis, and that is important when developing relations with Indigenous people, especially in terms of research. Further collaboration on future studies may also improve the research design to give forth more space for participants to be included and represented among all stages of the research. A final recommendation would be for future researchers to consider the importance of the language and recruitment strategies that they use, as the topic of IPV is sensitive and personal. Recruitment must be done in a respectful and honourable way, as research on Indigenous peoples is also a sensitive matter.  134  References Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (1995). Reclaiming our stories, reclaiming our lives. An initiative of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia. Dulwich Centre Newsletter, 1, 1-40. Adams, A. E., Sullivan, C. M., Bybee, D., & Greeson, M. R. (2008). Development of the scale of economic abuse. Violence against women, 14(5), 563-588. Adams, A. E., Tolman, R. M., Bybee, D., Sullivan, C. M., & Kennedy, A. C. (2012). 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Research  agenda for violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women: Toward the  development of strength-based and resilience interventions. Psychology of Violence, 5(4),  367-373. doi:10.1037/a0038507  153  Appendix A: Recruitment Letter   Recruitment Letter to Community Organizations and Agencies  Title of Study: Narrating Intimate Partner Violence: Reclaiming Indigenous Women's Voices   Principle Investigator: Dr. Alanaise Goodwill, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.; Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education; Faculty of Education; University of British Columbia (UBC); Office telephone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx; E-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx   Co-Investigator: Chen Vu, M.A. (Candidate), Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education; Faculty of Education; UBC; Contact Information: (xxx) xxx - xxxx; E-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx   Dear Sir or Madame,  My name is Chen Vu and I am graduate student at the University of British Columbia (UBC). As part of the requirements for completion of a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology, I am conducting a qualitative research study exploring the stories told by Indigenous women who have had the experience of ending intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lives.    I am contacting you to see if you and your organization would be interested in helping me recruit participants for this research project. I will be recruiting a total of 4-6 women that self-identify as Indigenous, that are over the age of 18, and have been out of a violent relationship for a minimum of two years. Participants’ must be willing to participate in a sharing circle/focus group session with the other participants, and be comfortable in sharing their story and discussing connections across women's narratives. An individual must also be able to commit to attending the 3.5 hour group session and engage in an email follow up to check accuracy of the research findings. Drinks, refreshments and a complimentary meal will be provided during the session as a form of compensation. If you would like to learn more about my research, I would be happy to meet with you in person or send you a copy of my research proposal. The following information provides some background on the purpose and design of the study, who I am as a researcher, and what participation in the research will entail.    Purpose of the Study: Intimate partner violence (i.e. physical, sexual, emotional/ psychological, financial abuse) is a serious concern for Indigenous peoples as they experience 154  the highest rates of violence. There remains crucial gaps in knowledge on factors that attribute to Indigenous women being able to end the experience of IPV in their lives, yet there is very little research on this important issue. Furthermore, traditional research methods are detached from the community and limit women's voices. Thus, the purpose of this research is to create a space for Indigenous women to share their stories, and voice their own reflections on the process of IPV ending in their life, in a way that is more empowering and meaningful. This study will be collaborative with the participants as they will participate in all aspects of this research in order to ensure their voices are not silenced as they historically and presently have been within society. In order to learn about Indigenous women's resiliency, agency, and strength we are interested in hearing how Indigenous women describe their stories and within them, the factors that contributed to the ending of their violent intimate partner relationships. Additionally, we are interested in understanding how Indigenous women understand their experiences of IPV in relation to their process of healing.     Who is conducting this study? I will be the primary researcher in this study, working under the supervision of Dr. Alanaise Goodwill at UBC. Alanaise is an Indigenous assistant professor who has extensive experience and knowledge working with Indigenous people. I have an Honours B.A. in Psychology, a minor in Sociology, and I am currently in my third year as a M.A. student in Counselling Psychology. As part of this degree program, I have completed my practicum and clinic practical work, in which I was a counsellor at a substance use treatment center and a counsellor at a community counselling center. I have also had several years experience as a supervisor at a community health center for various crisis phone lines.   What will participation involve? Interested participants can contact me by phone or e-mail (contact information above). Once they contact me, I will conduct a preliminary telephone screening to ensure they are eligible for the study and clearly understand what it entails. If we both agree to proceed, I will send them the study information and consent form, and once signed I will obtain a copy of the consent form. When there is enough participants, a date and location for the sharing circle/focus group will be set up collaboratively with all members. Participants will be asked to prepare a narrative on their experience of how IPV ended in their lives, which they can read directly or share in a storytelling format. The group session will last 3.5 hours; participants will collaborate on the decision of discussion and debrief topics, and they will also participate in the preliminary oral analysis of the data generated from the group. The last 30 min of the group will be a debrief period to ground participants. Approximately 1-2 months following the group session, participants will be emailed for a follow-up so that they can review the accuracy of the oral analysis report and the secondary analysis conducted by myself. Participants will have the opportunity to comment further, as well as request any alterations to ensure that data represents their experience fully and accurately. All participants will receive a meal with refreshments and drinks as part of their compensation.   Dissemination of information, consent and right to withdraw. The stories and the discussion data from the sharing circle/focus group will be included in a final research essay that will be submitted to complete the educational requirements of my degree program. I am happy to forward a copy of my final findings to your organization, should you wish. The finding may also be shared at meetings and conferences and/or published in academic journals or magazines for 155  other people to read. The identities of all participants will be kept strictly confidential and will not be revealed on any document. Consent to participate in this study is completely voluntary thus, participants can take a break or leave the group session at any time, and they can choose to not answer any questions or share any information that they do not want to. Participants are also free to withdraw from the study at any time without explanation.    I truly appreciate your help in providing the study information to women whom you think may be interested in participating or putting me in contact with other people or organizations that might do the same. I have included copies of a recruitment poster that can be posted or distributed, I also would be pleased to set up post on location to talk with anyone who is interested in participating. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to speak with me further, you can reach me at xxxxxxxxxx, or xxxxxxxxx.       Sincerely,   Chen Vu      Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada  V6T 1Z4 Tel: xxxxxxxx; xxxxxxxxxxx Fax: xxxxxxxxxx Email: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  156  Appendix B: Recruitment Poster  157  Appendix C: Screening and Demographic Questions Participant Screening Questions  When a potential study participant contacts me by telephone, or I have permission to contact an interested individual I will thank them for their interest and ask whether they would be willing to answer a few screening and basic demographic questions to determine their eligibility for the study. In addition, I will inform them that the decision to participate in the study is entirely their own, and that they have the right to choose not to participate following the screening. Before beginning the questions, I will also briefly review the definition of IPV, purpose of the study, confidentiality and limits of confidentiality, risks and benefits of the study and the participant’s right to refuse to answer a question and to withdraw from the study. Upon obtaining this preliminary informed consent, I will proceed with the following screening questions:    1) How did you hear about the study?    2) What interested you about participating in this study?    3) Are you over the age of 18?   4) I’m interested in understanding the experience of women who have ended intimate partner violence in their lives. I understand this is a sensitive topic, so I’ll ask you not to go into detail regarding the following questions at this time:   a. Do you self-identify as an Indigenous woman who has experienced and exited IPV?    b. How long were the partnership(s) that you experienced IPV?   c. How long has it been since the most recent experience of IPV?   d. Is this the first time you have shared this information?    e. Have you ever sought help for this experience? If so, please list the types of services you have sought out (i.e., counselling, social worker, police, hospital/doctor, child & family services, legal aid, family, friends, etc.)  f. When thinking about this experience are you strongly disturbed and/or are you feeling emotional to a point where you feel it is not manageable?   158  5) Discussing your personal experience may cause you to feel strong emotions, knowing this would you be comfortable writing and sharing your story of ending IPV in your life and then discussing experiences with a group of Indigenous women?    6) Would you be comfortable being video recorded for the sharing circle and discussion group?   7) Are you currently in an intimate relationship? If so, how long have you been together?    8) Have you ever experienced any type of IPV in your current relationship?   9) Do you currently fear for your safety from:  a. previous partner(s)?  b. current partner?    10) If you have a partner would it be a concern if they knew you were participating in this study?   11) The focus group will be 3.5 hours, and will take place in a convenient location chosen by the participants in the study. After the sharing circle/focus group, I will do a secondary analysis of all the women's stories. After I have completed this, I would like to share what I have found with each participant individually. At that point, I will email you and you can provide feedback on the accuracy of my report and if you'd like to make any changes, or add anything missed. You are free to comment as little or as much as you see fit. Do you feel comfortable proceeding with this process and time commitment as I’ve described it?    12) Do you have any questions for me before deciding to proceed?    13) If you are still interested, I will provide you with a consent form to sign. I will also provide you with a list of resources, should you find you may need them. I can send you the info package first or we can arrange a time and place to meet. I am interested in hearing your story, this includes both pleasant and challenging aspects of your experience, as you feel comfortable sharing. Thank you for taking the time to discuss this with me. Please let me know your availability and if you have any suggestions for a convenient location to hold the sharing circle/focus group.     159  Participant Demographics  Participant's identities will be kept strictly confidential, and they may choose not to answer any  questions they are not comfortable with.   1) Age: ______________________________________   2) City you live in: ____________________________________   3) Gender: ___________________________________________   4) Marital status: ___________________________________________  5) Tribe/Nation: _________________________________________   6) Current living situation (i.e., homeless, shelter, recovery house, apartment, shared house, family home, etc.)  ______________________________________________________________________   7) Employment status: ___________________________________________  8) Highest level of education completed:   a. Elementary  b. Middle School c. High School  d. Post-secondary diploma/certificate e. Undergraduate degree  f. Graduate degree  g. Doctorate degree h. Post-Doctorate   7. What type of IPV have you experienced (circle all that apply):  a. Physical  b. Emotional/Mental c. Verbal  d. Sexual  e. Financial f. Controlling behavior (dress, work, social contact, movement, school, child rearing, pregnancy/birth control etc.)    160  Appendix D: Consent Form   Participant Information and Consent Form Title of Study: Narrating Intimate Partner Violence: Reclaiming Indigenous Women's Voices  Principal Investigator: Dr. Alanaise Goodwill, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.; Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education; Faculty of Education; University of British Columbia (UBC); Office telephone: xxxxxxxxxx; E-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxx   Co-Investigator: Chen Vu, M.A. (Candidate), Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education; Faculty of Education; UBC; Contact Information: xxxxxxxxxx; E-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx   This research is part of Chen’s thesis requirement for completing a Master of Arts (M.A.) in the Counselling Psychology Program. Upon completion, completion, the thesis will be a public document that can be viewed through the UBC library. ______________________________________________________________________________   Why are we doing this research? Intimate partner violence - IPV -  (i.e. physical, sexual, emotional/psychological, financial abuse) is a serious concern for Indigenous peoples as they experience the highest rates of violence. There remains crucial gaps in knowledge on factors that attribute to Indigenous women being able to end the experience of IPV in their lives, yet there is very little research on this important issue. Furthermore, traditional research methods are detached from the community and limit women's voices. Thus, the purpose of this research is to create a space for Indigenous women to share their stories, and voice their own reflections on the process of IPV ending in their life, in a way that is more empowering and meaningful. This study will be collaborative with the participants as they will participate in all aspects of this research in order to ensure their voices are not silenced as they historically and presently have been within society. In order to learn about Indigenous women's resiliency, agency, and strength we are interested in hearing how Indigenous women describe their stories and within them, the factors that contributed to the ending of their violent intimate partner relationships. Additionally, we are interested in understanding how Indigenous women understand their experiences of IPV in relation to their process of healing.    What happens if you agree to participate? If you choose to participate, you will prepare a story on how IPV ended in your life, and any associated feelings/thoughts, etc. about your experience. When a date is agreed upon by all participants, you will attend a video and audio recorded sharing circle/ focus group with approximately 4-6 other Indigenous women. You will 161  be invited to read/tell your story of your exiting experience of IPV within a specific period of time to ensure all women get a chance to share. After all women's stories are heard, all participants will respond to each story and discuss how it connected to their own. The next part of the group session will entail the collaborative analyzing of the themes across the stories. The last 30 minutes of the focus group will be a debrief period, where participants can discuss what it was like to participate in the study, self-care activities /grounding techniques, etc. The group session will last a total of 3.5 hours which includes a 30 minute break for a meal (the food will be provided). Approximately 1-2 months following the group session you will be contacted to review the written analysis of the focus group. At this time, the researcher will share their findings of their secondary analysis, in which you can provide feedback, or make any changes to any of the data.   Study Results: The stories and discussion data from the sharing circle/focus group will be analyzed in collaboration with all participants and put together for a final research essay that will be submitted to complete the educational requirements of the co-investigator. The information may also be shared at meetings and conferences and may be published in academic journals or magazines for other people to read. Your name will not be shared in any presentation or publication.   Potential Risks: The discussion of traumatic experiences can sometimes bring up difficult emotions. Although we will not be asking you to describe your history of your violent intimate partnership, it is possible that part of your story will require you to discuss or think about painful experiences related to the violence you experienced. A list of resources consisting of community agencies and supportive services is attached to this consent form and it will be provided to you again after participation. The co-facilitator of the group will be a trained trauma counsellor and will be able to speak to you during the sharing circle/focus group if you are feeling uncomfortable. In addition, you have the right to choose not to answer any questions or participate in discussions, or to take a break, and/or leave the group at any time. For each participant the researcher will do a follow up to check in on emotional health as well as to respond to any participant concerns or strong negative feelings resulting from participating in the study. This will be done at the following times: within four days of the group session; after the analysis is written up and sent to you to check accuracy, and once the final report is sent out to you. If you are feeling emotionally distressed at any point, the researcher will guide and direct you to the services best suited to support you. As this is a sharing circle and discussion group about personal stories and experiences, we encourage all participants to refrain from disclosing the contents of the discussion outside of the focus group; however, we cannot control what other participants do with the information discussed.  Potential Benefits: You will get to be a part of a collaborative and transformative research project where your voice and knowledge will be heard. You will have the opportunity to develop feelings of community with the other participants and learn from fellow Indigenous women. Also, sharing your story can empower others and help them heal. Being a part of the discussion will also give you space to reflect on your own experiences and what they meant for you, which can foster the development of new perspectives and insights on your own story of life. This research will contribute to the knowledge base needed in order for the future resolution of 162  violence against Indigenous women, particularly in prevention, intervention and treatment programs. Findings may be particularly helpful for counsellors and other service workers who work with Indigenous women and IPV.  Confidentiality: The videotape and all notes referencing participant data will be stored stored in a locked filing cabinet in the principal investigator's research office at UBC Vancouver campus. All electronic files of participant data will be encrypted and password protected. Unless you choose to use your real name, your identity will be protected through the use of a pseudonym identifier on all documents related to the information you provide, including copies of your story, discussion from the focus group, researcher notes, and the final research report. UBC’s policy requires all data to be destroyed after five years from the completion date of the study. There are exceptional circumstances in which confidentiality cannot be maintained: 1) if you state a child or adult is currently being abused and is in need of protection; 2) if you are at serious risk of suicide/self-harm and/or in any other imminent danger; 4) if you present yourself as a clear and imminent threat to someone else or society at large. If at any point the researcher assesses any of the participant’s self-disclosure to indicate any one of these situations, the researcher will notify the individual(s) that they are obliged to intervene to ensure the safety of participants. Interventions may include, but are not limited to: emergency services, reporting to the Ministry of Child and Family Development, assistance from police liaisons, and counselling support services. If a situation ends up at this point, participants will be informed of the precautions that are being taken and will be given the option of accessing these services themselves with the support of the investigator.  Remuneration or Compensation: As compensation for your time spent participating in sharing your knowledge and experience of how you ended intimate partner violence in your life, a meal will be provided during the sharing circle/focus group so that all participants can share food and drink together. Additionally, coffee/tea and refreshments will be provided and  available throughout the session.   Who can you contact if you have questions about the study? If you have any questions about the study you may contact Chen Vu at xxxxxxxxx or by email at xxxxxxxxxxxxx or Dr. Alanaise Goodwill at xxxxxxxxxxx  or by email at xxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Who can you contact if you have concerns about the study? If you have any concerns or complaints about your rights as a research participant and/or your experiences while participating in this study, contact the Research Participant Complaint Line in the UBC Office of Research Ethics at 604-822-8598 or if long distance e-mail or call toll free 1-877-822-8598.  Consent and the Right to Withdraw: Consent to be part of this research study is completely voluntary. You can choose to withdraw at any time with no explanation and no consequences.  You have the right not to answer any questions or discuss any topics that you do not want to share, and you have the right to take a break or leave at any time. If you choose to withdraw any documentation generated from your participation will be destroyed.   163  Signature:   Your signature below indicates that:   1) You understand the information provided for the study “Narrating Intimate Partner Violence: Reclaiming Indigenous Women's Voices”  2) You have received a copy of this consent form for your own records.  3) You consent to participate in this study.  4) You agree to keep the content of the group confidential.    Name _______________________________  Phone #: ____________________________  Address _____________________________ Emergency contact name _______________            Email _______________________________ Emergency contact # __________________   ______________________________________   ___________________________  Signature of Participant       Date    _____________________________________  Printed Name of Participant    Additional consent: Please circle one selection for each question below: 1) I,  AGREE DO NOT AGREE to have a copy of my written narrative presented in its original form in the final report   2) I,  AGREE DO NOT AGREE to be contacted in the future to review the data and drafts of the written report 3) I,  AGREE DO NOT AGREE to be contacted in the future to receive the final write up of the findings 164  4) I,  DO  DO NOT  want my name acknowledged in the research 5)  I,  AGREE DO NOT AGREE              to participate in a follow up group session should there be an opportunity in which              members would like to meet again before this study ends  6) I, AGREE DO NOT AGREE   to be contacted in the future for research opportunities that are similar to this  study that are being conducted by the same researcher    Signature __________________________________    Signature of the Investigator:  “These are the terms under which I will conduct research.”     ______________________________________   ____________________________  Signature of Investigator      Date    Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada  V6T 1Z4 Tel: xxxxxxxxxx; xxxxxxxx Fax: xxxxxxxxxxx Email: xxxxxxxxxxxx; xxxxxxxxxx 165  Appendix E: Group Protocol Guidelines For the Group Process Complimentary drinks and refreshments will be available for all participants upon arrival. Once all participants have arrived, the facilitators and participants will introduce themselves. An overview of the study will be presented. Limits of confidentiality will be clearly outlined and displayed as a reminder for all participants, and furthermore, participants will sign a confidentiality agreement. Group norms will be established collaboratively and displayed in clear sight. The rights of participants will be stated (i.e. right to refuse to answer a question, share an experience, or participate in discussion, the right to take a break when needed, the right to leave or withdraw from the study without consequence) and participants will be given the opportunity to ask any questions. When the group is ready to proceed, the participants will be informed of the agenda/timeline for the sharing circle/focus group. The focus group session will be three and a half hours, with a 30-minute period for lunch or dinner (food will be provided), and a 30-minute debriefing period. The agenda is as follows:  1) Sharing circle - each participant will be provided uninterrupted time to read out or tell their story of ending IPV in their lives 2) Discussion period - participants will then respond to each of the women's stories and share how it connected with their own experiences 3) Break for 30 minute lunch/dinner  4) Oral thematic analysis - participants will participate in a preliminary data analysis as they will explore the connections, themes and patterns within and across stories 5) Debrief period - 30 minutes will be allotted for debriefing to help ground the participants before the end of the focus group session. This will include discussing how participating in this research has affected the women, how the process of the focus group impacted them, along with a variety of general safety topics and self-care strategies. A resource list will be handed out to all participants at closing of the focus group.   To guide this process the facilitators will: 1) Take responsibility for monitoring time and moving the process along  2) Ensure participants are respectfully collaborating and group norms are being followed 3) Facilitate discussion with leading skills such as paraphrasing, clarifying, perception checking, and probing  4) Remind participants that they can share as little or as much as they feel comfortable, and check in with the group to monitor emotional stability  5) If needed, the co-facilitator will step out of the group session in order to debrief with a participant in private  166  Appendix F: Confidentiality Agreement Focus Group Confidentiality Agreement  Thank you for agreeing to participate in a sharing circle/focus group to discuss your story of ending intimate partner violence and to analyze this experience with other members of the group. As this can be a sensitive and personal subject, it is important to respect the privacy of all participating members. Due to the nature of a group discussion it is impossible to provide complete confidentiality or anonymity, but guidelines are listed below to ensure that the sharing circle/focus group is a safe space to share and discuss. Additionally, the researchers responsibility to ensure participant confidentiality for the research project itself is listed below.   a) In terms of protecting your anonymity you have been asked to choose a pseudonym for yourself and any other individuals to whom you may reference to while participating in the group  b) All information received, heard, discussed, and seen during the course of this sharing circle/focus group is related to the research and should remain confidential  c) Any identifying details or circumstances will be slightly altered to protect your confidentiality in the final results of the research  d) The confidentiality of the data will be protected by ensuring that all data from the sharing circle/focus group is stored in a locked cabinet at a UBC office and electronic data is password-encrypted. Only the researchers of the study will have access. Data will be destroyed 5 years from the completion date of this study.   e) In exceptional circumstances confidentiality will be limited by the legal requirements to report instances in which you state: a child or adult is currently being abused and/or is in need of protection; 2) if you are at serious risk of suicide/self-harm and/or in any other imminent danger; 3) if you present yourself as a clear and imminent threat to someone else or society at large.  f)  If at any point the researcher assesses any of the participant’s self-disclosure to indicate any one of these situations, the researcher will notify the individual(s) that they are obliged to intervene to ensure the safety of participants. Interventions may include, but are not limited to: emergency services, reporting to the Ministry of Child and Family Development, assistance from police liaisons, and counselling support services. If a situation ends up at this point, participants will be informed of the precautions that are being taken and will be given the option of accessing these services themselves with the support of the investigator.   I, __________________________________________________ hereby agree to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information disclosed and discussed during the group session.   Signature: _____________________________________________________________________  Date: ________________________________________________________________________ 167  Appendix G: Community Resources Sheet Community Resources Crisis Support  Should you be struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, the following crisis lines provide support to people in crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:    Anywhere in BC: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)   Vancouver: 604-872-3311   Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311   Vancouver Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789   Fraser Health Crisis Line: 604-951-8855; 1-877-820-74444    Vancouver Rape Relief Center - 604-872-8212     TTY accessible: 604-877-0958 Rape Relief operates a transition house for women and their children and a 24-hour rape crisis line for women who are trying to prevent or escape male violence.   VictimLink -  1-800-563-0808     TTY accessible: 604-875-0885  http://  This 24-hour service provides information and referral services to all victims of crime and immediate crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence. Support is available in 17 North American aboriginal languages.   Women’s Transition Housing A list of transition houses, safe homes, and second-stage housing in BC.   Indigenous Support Services    First Nations Health Authority:   Crisis counselling: 1-800-317-7878  Indian residential schools survivors health resolution program: 1-877-477-0775 (20 free sessions of counselling for intergenerational and direct RS survivors) 168   Battered Women Support Services - 1-855-687-1868 ---- Crisis Line & Intake 604-687-1867 Offers cultural services run by Indigenous women for Indigenous women such as support groups, talking circles, and counselling. They use traditional healing practices while working with women survivors of abuse, trauma and colonization.    Residential Historical Abuse Program - 604-875-4255   Free counselling for those who were sexually abused while under the care of the province (foster care, group homes, etc.)    Vancouver Aboriginal Child And Family Services - 778-331-4500  Non-profit society providing service to urban Aboriginal children and families living in the Greater Vancouver  Vancouver Native Health Society - 604-873-6601 ext: 13   Family Violence Intervention Program offers an 8 week intervention program about Family Violence to learn about violence, coping skills, communication skills. Includes one-to-one counselling.  Helping Spirit Lodge Society Aboriginal women's organization in the Lower Mainland focused on alleviating family violence and enhance community wellness through a traditional, holistic approach. Providing safe, protective shelter Aboriginal women and children, and educational programs of enhancement   Aboriginal Health Program, BC Women's Health Centre: 604-875-2348  The outreach program offers support to Indigenous communities (both on and off reserve), and includes education on various women's health issues   Women Against Violence Against Women -  Crisis line/info:  604-255-6344 or 1-877-392-7583  169  WAVAW’s Aboriginal Counselling Program provides one-to-one counselling that incorporates  traditional healing approaches. The Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women’s Family Counselling Program provides one-to-one, group, and family counselling for self-identified family members of missing and murdered women. A crisis line operates 24 hours a day.   Ending Violence Association of British Columbia - 604-633-2506  EVA BC works to coordinate the work of victim-serving and other anti-violence programs. The Indigenous Communities Safety Project provides knowledge to a variety of Aboriginal leadership in urban communities related to criminal and family justice, and child protection, in order to make women and children safer and more aware of their legal rights.   Warriors Against Violence - 604-255-3240  This agency is committed to helping First Nations families unlearn abusive and violent behaviours and reclaim their traditional values of equality, honour, and respect. They have abuse prevention programs for aboriginal men and youth.   Native Court Worker and Counselling Association Of British Columbia - 604-985-5355 Outside the Vancouver area Toll Free: 1-877-811-1190  Assists Aboriginal people involved in the criminal justice system, connects people with substance abuse and detox support issues to counselling and referral services, and provides advocacy services for Aboriginal family and youth.   Women’s Right to be Safe: Aim is provide a safe environment where solutions can be identified for children, young women, working  women and elders to reclaim the right to be safe and reduce the vulnerability of Aboriginal women and  girls to violence. They offer "First Line of Defense: Strengthening Aboriginal Women”, a project that provides a comprehensive, culturally sensitive service to Aboriginal women who have experienced domestic violence and are at various levels of rebuilding their lives and the lives of their children.    Free or Reduced-Cost Counselling   Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Counselling Program - 604-874-2938   Counselling fees based on household income. Master’s-level therapists. Trauma-specific  counselling for adults and children available at no cost to those who qualify (subject to waitlist).  Program has a dedicated intake worker who can also refer to other counselling services or groups. Offices in Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey.  170   Family Services of the North Shore - 604-988-5281   Professional counselling for residents of the North Shore. Sliding Scale.  Oak Counselling - 604-266-5611   Reduced fee. Secular counselling services provided at the Vancouver Unitarian Centre by supervised volunteers with Master’s degrees in psychology or psychology-related fields. Individual, couples and family counselling.    Adler Centre - Counselling Clinic - 604-742-1818   Sliding scale individual and couples counselling. Counselling provided by counselling psychology graduate students at the Adler Centre, supervised by an experienced clinician.    Scarfe Counselling - UBC - 604-827-1523   Free. Counselling provided by counselling psychology graduate students, supervised by a psychologist. Clinic runs from September to April.    UBC Psychology Clinic - 604-822-3005   Counselling services provided by doctoral student interns, supervised by registered  psychologists. $10-$40 per hour.    New Westminster UBC Counselling Centre - 604-525-6651   Free counselling for the general public by counselling psychology graduate students,  supervised by a psychologist.    Simon Fraser University - Counselling Clinics   Surrey Clinic - 604-587-7320 -   Burnaby Clinic- 778-782-4720 -   Counselling provided by supervised graduate students in counselling psychology.  Services at the Surrey clinic are free and at the Burnaby clinic are offered on a sliding scale. 171   Living Systems Counselling - 604-926-5496, ext. “0” Individual, couple and family counselling using Bowen Family Systems Therapy. Lower cost  counselling provided by supervised interns.    Qmunity - Free Counselling Program - 604-684-5307   Counselling for members of the GLBTQ communities. 


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