Introduction: Indigenous girls and women in Mexico suffer emotional distress due to marital violence and adherence to gender roles. They are unlikely to denounce violence or treat their health in a timely manner. Women can cope with their distress by participating in empowerment processes. Objective. Describe in indigenous empowered women the emotional distress caused by domestic violence in their childhood and the current demands of raising their children and the actions they take to cope with them.
Method: Qualitative and phenomenological qualitative research, in-depth interviews, and participant observation were conducted with nine migrant indigenous women to explore experiences during their upbringing, emotional reactions, and current mental health problems. Results. The software Atlas. ti V 7 was used to undertake a theoretical categorization of the data.
Findings included exposure to violence, the influence of a good mother, and past and present emotional distress overcome through empowerment and professional care. Discussion and conclusion. Participating in urban empowerment activities enables participants to reflect on the violence experienced and the attendant distress, identify them as gender violence, and use them in their favor. They are strategic when coping with current distress due to the conflictive upbringing of their children, using psychological services and the urban upbringing prescriptions of children’s rights, and incorporating indigenous parenting practices, which encourage community commitment, responsibility, and early self-sufficiency in children. Empowerment is suggested as an effective means of improving the health of indigenous women in Mexico.
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Keywords: Indigenous women, gender violence, emotional distress, empowerment, upbringing, professional care.