‘Solidari-tea’ with Helen from The Archers

Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow in The Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol.

Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow in The Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol.

Dr Emma Williamson discusses how the current storyline in The Archers raises the question of what justice means when it comes to abuse.

Social media has once again been a-twitter with discussion about The Archers.

I wrote back in April about the domestic violence and coercive control storyline and how the producers had managed to shine a light on the often hidden aspects of abuse. As the story moves this week into the Courts, the media is once again gripped by the drama, with people posting their pictures of solidari-tea with the central character, Helen. The Mail Online even ran a story with Barristers discussing the fictional case .

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Translating research: can domestic violence interventions work in other cultures, systems and languages?

Dr Jayne Bailey, Research Fellow Domestic Violence and Health Research Group, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol

Dr Jayne Bailey, Research Fellow Domestic Violence and Health Research Group, School of Social and Community Medicine,
University of Bristol

Until recently the “translation of research” to many meant language translation for the relevant international audience.

However, in research-speak, there are now several ‘translational gaps’ and it really depends on your pathway of research (ie. early development vs. applied health) as to what this means to you.

Research in the field of domestic violence and health falls within the applied health and social sciences sector and the translational gap we aim to bridge is often the gap between research findings, and implementing research and influencing policy.

However, we should not overlook the translation of research to different languages and cultures and a recent meeting which was part-funded by PolicyBristol explored and reflected on this.

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Abuse in Ambridge

Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow in The Centre for Gender and Violence Research, School for Policy Studies, discusses how the recent storyline in The Archers highlights the often silent issue of coercive control and its effect on victims/survivors.

I have to admit that I don’t normally listen to The Archers. And people don’t normally talk to me about the story lines. That all changed when the long running series began a story over 18 months ago which looked at the issue of domestic violence and coercive control. One of the most difficult things that victims/survivors of abuse tell us, and have consistently told us since the first women’s refuges in the 1970’s, is that it is the non-physical abuse they experience which is the most difficult to deal with [Williamson, 2000]. The bruises and other injuries victims suffer from physical abuse are visible. They are evidence to other people but also to oneself. There it is in black and blue. What is more difficult to prove and believe, is that someone who purports to love and care for you would bully, undermine, and manipulate you. The women I spoke too after the fact would either say, ‘how could someone treat me like that?’ or more often than not, ‘how could I let someone treat me like that?’ – still blaming themselves.

As the Archers storyline shows, this type of abuse is characteristic of a pattern of ‘low level’ abusive behaviours rather than the explosive incident people tend to think about when they consider ‘a domestic’. It involves small everyday things which result in people staying away, isolating victims from their family, friends, and networks of support. Recent research from Bristol has documented the massive impact of such abuse on friends and family [Gregory et al, 2016], as well as the evidence we know about the impact on victims [Mullender et al, 2005], their children [Mullender et al, 2002], and perpetrators themselves [Hester et al, 2015]. Doctors, the police, courts, social services, all tend to think of interventions in terms of those single incidents which means that the on-going manipulation of victims goes unnoticed.

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Men experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence linked with two to three-fold increase in mental health problems

Professor Marianne Hester, Chair in Gender, Violence & International Policy

Professor Marianne Hester, Chair in Gender, Violence & International Policy

Men visiting their GP with symptoms of anxiety or depression are more likely to have experienced or carried out some form of behaviour linked to domestic violence and abuse, according to a new University of Bristol study. Researchers say the findings highlight the need for GPs to ask male patients with mental health problems about domestic abuse.

The study, led by Professor Marianne Hester OBE, and involving Dr Emma Williamson from the School, and published in BMJ Open, aimed to find out whether there is an association between men who have experienced or carried out domestic violence and abuse with men visiting their GP with mental health problems or who are binge drinking and using cannabis.

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Domestic Violence and Sexuality: a new book from the School for Policy Studies

Marianne Hester from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research outlines the important findings from a new book on domestic violence and sexuality co-authored with Catherine Donovan.

Prof Marianne Hester, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol

Prof Marianne Hester, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol

The book, Domestic violence and sexuality – What’s love got to do with it, provides the first detailed discussion in the UK of domestic violence and abuse in same sex relationships, and a unique comparison with domestic violence and abuse experienced by heterosexual women and men. The book examines how experiences of domestic violence and abuse may be shaped by gender, sexuality and age, including whether and how victims/survivors seek help, and asks, what’s love got to do with it? A pioneering methodology, using a sophisticated national survey, focus groups and interviews, provides a reliable and valid approach that challenges the heteronormative model in domestic violence research, policy and practice. A new framework of analysis – practices of love – is also used to explore the empirical data.

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Violence against women – in the arts

Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow, School for Policy Studies

Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow, School for Policy Studies

Alongside regular media enquiries, my colleagues from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research and I are regularly contacted by artists, writers, and directors asking for guidance on how to appropriately and sensitively represent issues of violence against women. Recent examples include the play Our Glass House by the Common Wealth Theatre Company which dealt with the issue of domestic violence and was set in a real house, on a real street, here in Bristol. This was an innovative play. Through our discussions the production team were put in contact with local service providers and service users to ensure that the play recognised the potential impact on the audience and reflected both the damaging impacts of abuse as well as how victims can, with support, move on to survive and thrive.

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