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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.


Knowledge transfer and exchange

ANROWS host activities as part of its knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) work, including public lectures, workshops and research launches. Details of upcoming ANROWS activities and news are available from the list on the right.



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.


Knowledge translation resources

To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence

May 2020

In Australia, one quarter of women subject to gendered violence report at least three different forms of interpersonal victimisation in their lifetime, such as child sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Being exposed to multiple, repeated forms of interpersonal victimisation may result in complex trauma, which involves a range of traumatic health problems and psychosocial challenges.

This research examines Australian policy and service responses to this significant but overlooked group of victims and survivors of gender-based violence in Australia. The research team interviewed women with experiences of complex trauma and the professionals who work with them.  The research found that while health professionals favour a psychological understanding of complex trauma, women with experiences of complex trauma emphasise its somatic and psychosocial aspects.

Navigating a fragmented service system where the majority of services are funded to address a particular issue or concern—each with their own (formal and informal) rules—while you are in crisis is fraught for women with experiences of complex trauma. This research demonstrates there is a need for responses to women who have experiences of complex trauma to be sensitive, coordinated and consistent between services and agencies. It reflects a growing body of evidence that collaboration between agencies is essential to effectively support women who have experienced domestic, family or sexual violence.


Project lead

Associate Professor Michael Salter, University of New South Wales

Research expertise

Dr Elizabeth Conroy, Western Sydney University

Professor Jane Ussher, Western Sydney University

Associate Professor Molly Dragiewicz, Griffith University

Practice expertise

Dr Jackie Burke, Jackie Burke Psychology and Consulting, WSU fellow

Professor Warwick Middleton, Director, Trauma & Dissociation Unit, Belmont Hospital

Research partners / Confirmed advisory group members:

Blue Knot Foundation

Jarrah House

Canberra Rape Crisis

International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation


Research report

“A deep wound under my heart”: Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence


Research summary

Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence: Key findings and future directions


Priority populations

Women with disability, women who are, or have been, incarcerated, women who live in rural and remote areas (as explicit topic).



Funded by Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments under ANROWS’s 2017 core grant round.

find out more

Contact ANROWS

PO Box Q389, Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230
Phone: 61 2 8374 4000
| Email: enquiries@anrows.org.au

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