Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2022 | USW research network says organisations can take further steps to support domestic abuse survivors

Domestic_Violence Month

A report by the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse, and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Wales research network, highlights ways for organisations, specialising in VAWDASV, to enhance their support for survivors.

With the aim to understand current survivor engagement practices in Wales, University of South Wales (USW) researchers worked with the Welsh Government VAWDASV team and the VAWDASV Research Network Wales, to survey current service providers and professionals in the VAWDASV sector.

The research revealed that although policies and processes are in place within the organisations, the diversity of experiences amongst survivors require a nuanced approach.

Key findings and recommendations are:

  • Survivors report frustration with being asked the same questions multiple times by different agencies. Engaging meaningfully with survivors is vital. However, the report recommends that the wealth of existing knowledge and expertise, that already exists within the VAWDASV sector, should not be overlooked.

  • Survivor engagement is complex with multiple barriers preventing engagement. It requires time, knowledge, and resources to engage with survivors, both from organisations and from survivors themselves. Organisations need sustainable funding to enable survivor engagement and survivors need appropriate financial recompense for their time and expertise.

  • Social and cultural factors differ between survivors and require tailored support. Therefore, survivor engagement must be needs-led. For example, providing easy read explanations, translators, accessible sites, and childcare as required.

  • Mutual trust and respect between survivors and organisations is key and takes time to build. Survivors are often unwilling to engage for fear of not being believed or confidentiality being broken. The report recommends that survivor engagement needs to be considered an integral activity and requires long-term investment and specialist staff.

The USW research team was led by Dr Sarah Wallace and Professor Emily Underwood-Lee. Professor Underwood-Lee said: “We are delighted to be able to collaborate with Welsh Government and the VAWDASV sector across Wales and hope that the work of the VAWDASV Research Network Wales can contribute towards improving support for survivors and making Wales safer for us all.”

Dr Wallace said: “Findings highlight the expertise and important work of the sector in supporting survivors to engage meaningfully and safely. They also offer valuable insight to how we as the VAWDASV Research Network Wales, ensure we include survivors in our work.”

Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt said: “It’s vitally important that survivor voices are heard at the highest levels if we are to effectively tackle VAWDASV in Wales. That is why we are developing a Survivor Scrutiny and Involvement panel involving a diverse group of survivors covering the whole spectrum of VAWDASV, to give us the knowledge and understanding to deliver for survivors.

“This approach will create a national, consistent, and inclusive pathway that enables those with lived experiences to not only shape policy direction but to scrutinise the implementation of the National strategy, the VAWDASV blueprint and its workstreams.

“I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the survey – this will help strengthen our policy development and deliver for survivors across Wales.”

The VAWDASV Research Network Wales was officially launched in November 2021 by Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt MS. The aim is to develop an inclusive research community for Wales that provides a safe, open forum to bring together those who are working towards an end to VAWDASV to set the future research agenda, foster collaboration and develop grant applications, undertake high quality research, and work towards the elimination of VAWDASV.  

Read the final reports


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