‘A life barely half lived’: domestic abuse and sexual violence practitioners’ experiences and perceptions of providing care to survivors of non-physical abuse within intimate partner relationships

Gemma Halliwell*, Jennifer Daw, Susie Hay, Sandi Dheensa, Suzanne Jacobs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Non-physically abusive acts (underpinned by coercive control) are more prevalent than physical or sexual violence within intimate partner relationships. Yet, little is known about survivors’ help-seeking journeys or the efficacy of existing services in addressing this need. We present findings from a survey of UK-based domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and sexual violence (SV) practitioners (n = 279) exploring experiences of providing care to women with histories of non-physical abuse. Our findings suggest that survivors often seek help for non-physical abuse from specialist DVA and SV services, but wider professional agencies often overlook the severity of this experience of abuse in the absence of physical or sexual violence. The impacts of non-physical abuse on survivors’ health and wellbeing are severe and there are multiple barriers to support, particularly within the criminal justice system. Our findings highlight the urgent need to increase public and professional awareness of non-physical abuse and its consequences for training of wider agencies (for example, police, child protection, legal services) and for sustainable funding that increases long-term support options for survivors and their children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-269
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Gender-Based Violence
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Oak Foundation funded the original policy research through SafeLives via their ?Issues Affecting Women? Programme. Secondary analysis and manuscript writing were not funded.The funding body provided financial support for the conduct of the policy research, not being involved in the design of the study, data collection, analysis, interpretation of data or in writing the policy research or article. Acknowledgements Thanks are due to the domestic abuse and sexual violence practitioners who gave their time to make a vital contribution to this research. We are grateful to the expert panel for overseeing the quality and safety of this work; to the survivor-researchers who worked with us to co-produce the findings and to SafeLives for access to datasets and commitment in enabling the publication of the original policy research within peer review.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Bristol University Press. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • barriers to support
  • coercive control
  • domestic violence and abuse (DVA)
  • health impacts
  • non-physical abuse

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