Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

April Bradly

Second Advisor

J. Doug McDonald


An established body of research focused on family violence captures the experiences of women impacted by intimate partner violence (IPV), the implications for child witnesses of IPV, and the predictive risk factors of violence toward women. In an attempt to understand the unique experiences of American Indian women and children this study examined the intersection of American Indian identity, attachment relationships, and traumatic experiences to comprehend the short and long-term impact of IPV.

The current research study included 30 American Indian mother-daughter dyads who had a history of IPV. The findings suggested that participants' substance use during IPV episodes was associated with the relationship between participants' experiences of IPV and mother-daughter attachment relationships. Subsequent findings indicated that participants' who graduated from high school and those participants' whose partners' used substances during IPV episodes were at an increased risk for IPV experiences. Additionally, participants' experiences of IPV were not associated with mother-daughter attachment relationships. Recommendations regarding clinical practice, research and policy are presented. This dissertation is one of the first studies to examine the experiences of Northern Plains and Upper Midwest American Indian mothers' and daughters' attachment relationships and the influence of IPV utilizing the conceptual framework of the medicine wheel and the theoretical framework that includes IPV, attachment, ptsd symptoms, ethnic/cultural identity and various contextual variables.