Finding the costs of freedom : how women and children rebuild their lives after domestic violence

Kelly, Liz, Sharp-Jeffs, Nicola and Klein, Renate (2014) Finding the costs of freedom : how women and children rebuild their lives after domestic violence. Project Report. Solace Womens Aid, London.


Whilst crisis interventions for women and children experiencing domestic violence are well developed, little is known about the process of rebuilding lives, including what longer term support needs might be. Women’s organisations have lacked the resources to follow up service users. The Research Grants Programme run by the Big Lottery provided an exciting opportunity to do just that. Working in partnership with the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) at London Metropolitan University, Solace Women’s Aid successfully applied for funds that enabled us to track 100 women and their children over a three year period (2011-2014). Women were recruited into the study after exiting a range of domestic violence services provided by Solace and, through four waves of interviews, we followed their onward journeys.

The overarching aims of the project were to identify:

• What factors support long term settlement, how do they interrelate and at what points in the process are they particularly important?
• When do obstacles to resettlement occur and how can they be overcome?
• How can community resources best be developed and integrated for long term support of survivor resettlement and independence?

Through a multi-layered research methodology we explored how women and children are able to grow their ‘space for action’ (Kelly, 2003) after physically removing themselves from the ‘coercive control’ (Stark, 2007) exerted by the perpetrator over their everyday lives. We also measured post-separation abuse in Wave Three, experience of services and the legal system, changes in housing situation and how their informal networks facilitated or interfered with efforts to create safety and freedom.

SWA-Finding-Costs-of-Freedom-Report.pdf - Published Version

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