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Background and aim

Researchers at the University of South Wales (USW) secured internal funding via the Faculty of Business and Creative Industries (FCI), USW, to undertake the first study of the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse, and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Research Network Wales. Launched in November 2021, the aim of the VAWDASV Research Network Wales is to create an inclusive research community for Wales that provides a safe, open forum to bring together those who are working towards an end to VAWDASV to set the future research agenda, foster collaboration and develop grant applications, undertake high quality research, and work towards the elimination of VAWDASV.

Using Group Concept Mapping (GCM), an online consensus method, the study aimed to examine and co-produce the VAWDASV research priorities for the sector in Wales with specialist, and non-specialist VAWDASV professionals, other sector professionals, policy makers, and academics across Wales. For the purposes of this research, we use sector professionals as an inclusive term that incorporates both paid and unpaid workers, survivors and survivor led groups. Findings from this study are intended to inform the future work of the VAWDASV Research Network Wales, feed into existing policy and practice, and support future commissioning decisions.

Policy context/landscape

VAWDASV is a major public health and social care problem, and a criminal justice and human rights issue, with a range of adverse consequences for health and well-being over the life course (Addis and Snowdon, 2021). A range of forms of violence are recognised within the term VAWDASV, these include gender-based violence (GBV); intimate partner violence (IPV); domestic violence and abuse (DVA); sexual violence and abuse (SVA); coercive control; forced marriage; child marriage; so-called honour-based abuse (HBA); female genital mutilation (FGM); human trafficking; sexual harassment; cyber harassment; and adolescent dating violence (ADV). Many of these terms are used as umbrella terms and are not mutually exclusive (Addis and Snowdon, 2021). VAWDASV has significant detrimental consequences such as deteriorated mental and physical health, decreased quality of life (e.g., homelessness, poverty, isolation, and substance misuse), mortality, and has significant impacts on children. Anyone regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, religion or belief, income, geography, or lifestyle can experience VAWDASV (Welsh Government, 2016); it cuts across all communities and areas.

In the year ending 2020, the Crime Survey of England and Wales reported that 5.5% (2.3 million) of the adult population had experienced domestic abuse in the previous year (ONS, 2020). This is likely to be much below the actual figures as these statistics are dependent on analysis of criminal justice data, which will exclude anyone who faces barriers that prevent them reporting VAWDASV, and which experience tells us causes significant under-reporting. Further, these figures do not take account of those secondary victims of abuse, such as those who witness abuse and wider extended families and networks. Similarly, these figures do not account for anyone aged under 16 or over 74 years of age, and nor do they reflect the reported increase in VAWDASV during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2020. The unreliability of the figures led Women’s Aid (no date) to highlight an absence of “reliable prevalence data on domestic abuse”. A report commissioned by the UK Home Office estimates that the economic and social cost of domestic abuse in England and Wales is £66 billion per annum (Oliver et al 2019). Despite the limitations of the data, we know that tackling VAWDASV can improve individual and community health and wellbeing and can have a positive impact for the economy and society (Addis and Snowdon, 2021), and that ‘the cost, in both human and economic terms is so significant that even marginally effective interventions are cost effective’ (NICE, 2014).

Ending VAWDASV is a priority for Welsh Government (WG). The ‘VAWDASV Act (Wales) 2015 (WG, 2015) was followed by the ‘National Strategy’ (WG, 2016). This was leading in the UK with Wales the first nation to pass a dedicated VAWDASV Act. The Act is shaped around specific duties, which are incumbent upon WG, local authorities, Health Boards, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the National Advisor for Wales, and other “relevant authorities” (WG, 2015). Since the introduction of the Act, considerable progress has been made in Wales, detailed in annual reports from the National Adviser (WG, 2020). The refreshed WG ‘VAWDASV National Strategy (2022-26)’, seeks to adopt a whole Wales approach to end VAWDASV with the aim to “make Wales the safest place to be a woman” (WG, 2022). The Act intersects with several other policy areas and laws, both devolved and non-devolved, most notably in the areas of health and social care, education, and criminal justice; of particular relevance are the ‘Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014’, and the ‘Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015’ (WG, 2015b). Co-production and collaborative working underpin all these areas of legislation and are enshrined in the VAWDASV Act and the ‘VAWDASV: national advisers annual plan 2021 to 2022’, which includes within the key objectives “an intensive process of consultation with those impacted by these crimes and behaviours and those working to prevent this happening” (2020, p. 5).
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
CyhoeddwrUniversity of South Wales
Nifer y tudalennau40
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - Medi 2022

Ôl bys

Gweld gwybodaeth am bynciau ymchwil 'VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, DOMESTIC ABUSE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESEARCH NETWORK WALES: SETTING THE RESEARCH PRIORITIES FOR WALES: Final Report'. Gyda’i gilydd, maen nhw’n ffurfio ôl bys unigryw.

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