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Violation of te whare tangata - the maternal body: Young women's journeys through pregnancy and partner terrorism

Partner terrorism is a leading social issue in Aotearoa. It occurs with such frequency and ferocity that it is often considered an epidemic. This has placed us in the shameful position of being the highest ranked nation in the western world for the prevalence of intimate partner violence. This research explored young women’s experiences of intimate partner violence during pregnancy. Eleven women aged 14 - 17 years when pregnant were interviewed. A mana wāhine theoretical perspective was employed, guided by a kaupapa Māori research methodology. Pūrākau was used as a method to present and validate the women’s voices. The key findings identified that these relationships began with the potential of any other relationship. However, they typically followed a pattern of co-habituation and entrapment through pregnancy and financial dependence. It was evident the partner terrorism was brought into these relationships by the terrorist partners, and was the first experience of this violence for many of the women. The terrorism continued to escalate. Separating from their terrorist partners did not result in the women being any safer, with some continuing to experience life-threatening acts of terrorism post separation. Pregnancy did not serve as a protective factor: the violation of te whare tangata generally occurred before, during and after pregnancy. Often, the acts of terrorism escalated following the birth of their pēpī, with their partner’s terrorism being a direct assault on ūkaipō, disrupting bonding and mothering practices. Many of the women were able to recognise the terrorism to which they were subjected only in hindsight. Despite this, they showed ingenuity and resilience in the ways they resisted the terrorism in efforts to keep themselves and their pēpī safe. Breaking free of these relationships demanded intervention and support from outsiders. The women remain strongly committed to the welfare of their pēpī.
Type of thesis
Marsh, T. M. (2019). Violation of te whare tangata - the maternal body: Young women’s journeys through pregnancy and partner terrorism (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12749
The University of Waikato
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