‘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

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
JournalJournal of Gender-Based Violence
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2021

Keywords

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

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