One in four women1 in the UK will experience domestic violence2 at some point in their lifetime. Until now, there has been little research on how this takes its toll on friends and relatives of victims. A new study, led by the University of Bristol, is seeking participants to share their experiences to help find out the true impact on people who surround a woman3 experiencing abusive behaviour.
Research indicates that most women who experience domestic violence will discuss their situation with relatives or friends and that social support has the potential to buffer against the effects on physical and mental health, to improve quality of life, and to protect against future abuse.
The study, led by Alison Gregory, a researcher and PhD Student from the University’s School of Social and Community Medicine and funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, is seeking 20 adults who have a female relative, friend or co-worker who has been in an abusive relationship to share their experiences.
Alison said: “Most women who experience domestic abuse (from a partner or family member) will talk about their situation with people close to them, and may find this really helpful. However, we don’t know what the impact is for the friends and relatives who find themselves in this position.
“Taking part in this study will help us find out what those impacts are. It is important that we have this information in order to create services that are both appropriate and helpful in meeting the needs of those affected.”
Participants will be invited to a one-to-one confidential research interview lasting about an hour to talk about their experiences. If you have a female friend or family member, who is aged 16 or over, and has experienced domestic violence, and are happy to speak to a researcher about the impact that this may have had on you, please contact Alison Gregory, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 07717 000746.
Please contact Alison Gregory for further information.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse and may need help and support, the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline 0808 2000 247.
1. Chaplin, R., Flatley, J. and Smith, K. (eds.) (2011) Crime in England and Wales 2010/11: Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 10/11. London: Home Office.
2. Domestic violence is threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners, or are family members.
3. Friends and family members of men who experience domestic violence have not been included in this research, in part due to the gender asymmetry around domestic violence, but also due to much less being known about the ways in which men experiencing domestic violence interact with their social networks. Other researchers at the University of Bristol are currently looking at the ways abuse might impact on men.