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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.

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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

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Study to look at abuse survivor and perpetrator experiences
Posted in Health

Study to look at abuse survivor and perpetrator experiences

Thursday, 16th July 2020


A new national study to gain deeper insight into how women and children experience abuse will also investigate the experiences and service needs of perpetrators.

While much has been learned about women’s experiences of sexual violence and intimate partner violence, past studies of what women need from services and how they experience them have tended to be small-scale and limited.

This lack of population-wide information will be addressed by a new large-scale, national study from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and the Safer Families Centre for Research Excellence at the University of Melbourne.

Researchers will gain deeper insights into the various ways that women and their children experience different tactics and patterns of abuse. It will also allow them to make recommendations to improve services and systems to ensure tailored responses.

The experiences of women from different backgrounds will be explored, including culturally and linguistically diverse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, rural and socio-economically disadvantaged women.

The study will also explore the experiences and service needs of perpetrators, whose perspectives have so far been largely neglected in research.

“It’s crucial that we have a better understanding of the service needs of survivors and their children, as well as perpetrators”, said one of the lead researchers, Dr Dominiek Coates from ANROWS. “This will help those who plan our domestic and family violence and sexual violence services to design more effective interventions and prevention initiatives.”

The project will use an online survey to record the experiences of more than a thousand victims/survivors and perpetrators, and seek the input of service providers and academics across health, justice and specialist family, domestic and sexual violence services.

“We will also conduct in-depth interviews with victims/survivors and perpetrators, providing a more complex and nuanced understanding of their experiences and needs from services”, said Professor Kelsey Hegarty, lead researcher from the University of Melbourne.

“Importantly, we will ask about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic isolation is having on help-seeking experiences for intimate partner violence and sexual violence to enable ways of most effectively responding individually to all family members during movement restrictions.”

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said this research project would build the evidence base on how women from different backgrounds experience violence and how best to support them and their children.

“By increasing our understanding of the patterns and common experiences among women who are survivors of abuse and sexual violence, we can ensure that frontline services and prevention strategies are informed by best practice,” Minister Ruston said.

“Under the Fourth Action Plan, the Australian Government has committed $5.64 million over three years for ANROWS to produce and promote new research into domestic and family violence and sexual assault.”

“This study approach allows us to examine patterns of abuse and violence, rather than focusing on single incidents of physical or sexual violence”, said ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow. “Intimate partner violence is a combination of tactics of abuse and coercion over time. This study will give us a more complete picture of women’s experiences over their lifetimes.”

This project is an important and strategic contribution to policymaking and service design.

“To make women’s lives safer, it’s important that we keep listening closely to them, and providing advice for effective change that is informed by their experiences”, said Professor Hegarty.

This study is part of a program of research led by ANROWS and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.

For further information, contact Michele Robinson at ANROWS
on +61 0417 780 556 or email michele.robinson@anrows.org.au.


About ANROWS

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS) is a not-for-profit independent national research organisation.

ANROWS is an initiative of Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

ANROWS is the only such research organisation in Australia.



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