- Start date: 1 May 2023
- End date: 30 April 2024
- Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Value: £24, 808
- Partners and collaborators: Behind Closed Doors Leeds Women’s Aid Yorkshire Children’s Centre Foundations + Choices
- Primary investigator: Dr Rebecca Shaw
Despite legislative changes in 2021 with the Domestic Abuse Act, and its stated aim to raise awareness of domestic abuse and further improve the effectiveness of the justice system, domestic abuse remains an inherently difficult problem to tackle. While problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic, academic research on DA responses and service provision in the UK demonstrates this is a long-standing societal problem. This research project aims to offer a new contribution to current research by adopting a narratological methodology to explore and scrutinise the stories of service providers, and how they relate to the dominant narrative on domestic abuse.
This project, therefore, aims to investigate the narratives of service providers who deal with both victim and perpetrators of domestic abuse, the challenge being to better understand and contribute – ultimately – to changing the dominant narrative(s). This project has three overarching aims:
• To use a new, ground-breaking application of narrative methodology for investigating the stories of service providers’ experiences with domestic abuse victims and perpetrators.
• To assess current practitioners’ perceptions of the dominant narratives regarding domestic abuse and identify what kinds of narratives persist in preventing change.
• To identify gaps in understanding how the system responds to the needs of both perpetrators and victims, and potential strategies for practical change of the narrative of domestic abuse.
The project has been co-designed from its inception with four service providers from West Yorkshire. These organisations have articulated the need for, and value of, understanding the perspectives and lived experience of front-line workers for the benefit of future policy and practice. This project will work with these organisations to identify in the narratives, biases and misperceptions related to domestic abuse, such as characterisation of victim/perpetrator, and how this is communicated to, and by, these third parties.
The data collection phase of the study will commence with a comprehensive search for academic, grey, journalistic and practice-based literature on narrative, domestic abuse and policy.
Subsequent fieldwork will involve carrying out focus groups and individual narrative interviews to collect first hand insights into the lived experiences of front-line workers, the narratives which dominate domestic abuse discourse, and to obtain views about the system’s response to and prevention of domestic abuse.
This study aims to produce a ‘changing narratives of domestic abuse’ tactical plan designed in collaboration with, and for, the partners to establish how the narrative around domestic abuse should be changed and what new policy/practices need to be co-produced.