The extent and implications of women's forced migration journeys to escape domestic violence

Bowstead, Janet (2013) The extent and implications of women's forced migration journeys to escape domestic violence. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Whilst policy makers and practitioners focus on what works in particular local areas to tackle and prevent domestic violence against women, many individual women (often with their children) move away from their local area, either temporarily or permanently. Much of this migration is necessarily secret as they are escaping an abuser who intimately knows their habits and interests, friends and family, and may well try to track them down. Since the establishment of women's refuges in the 1970s, there have to some extent been places of safety to flee to; but many women leave the abuse without knowing this, or without being able to secure a place in a refuge, or go to informal contacts such as family and friends. In addition, refuge services face an increasing tension between the local basis of their funding and the fact that most women accessing their services have, of necessity, travelled from elsewhere . This research generates and uses a wide range of data sources· administrative data, surveys, interviews, and creative groupwork - to explore the extent and the implications of the journeys women make to escape domestic violence. Quantifying women's journeys to access services throughout England provides a measure of the extent of migration journeys, the distances travelled; and mapping indicates the geographical patterns and helps explore the processes. Women's experiences, provided via interviews and photography, evidence the degrees of force and agency within different stages of their journeys; and the practical and emotional impacts of their relocation. The research provides a new conceptualisation of women's domestic violence journeys; relating them to understandings of forced migration. It provides measures of the extent and implications at a range of geographical scales: individual, local Authority and nationally within the UK. It also draws out specific consequences of these conceptual and evidential developments for service provision and policy within the UK.

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