Domestic violence and women with learning difficulties project

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Dr Michelle McCarthy, Senior Lecturer at the Tizard Centre, has been granted funding by the School for Social Care Research (part of the National Institute for Health Research) for a 2 year research project on Domestic Violence and Women with Learning Disabilities.  Dr McCarthy is being assisted by two researchers, Siobhan Hunt and Karen Milne-Skillman, on the project which commenced at the beginning of September 2012.

The overall aim is to learn more about the experiences of domestic violence by women with learning disabilities in the Kent and Southeast London area and to identify ways of improving the support available to them.  The research will consist of in-depth, one-to-one interviews with women who have experienced domestic violence and a national survey of frontline professionals and organisations who provide information and support services in relation to domestic violence, such as the Police, Social Services and Refuges. 

A Steering Group has been set up comprising of various organisations and professionals involved in domestic violence services.  Focus groups of women with learning disabilities have also been set up to explore the issue of domestic violence.  The information gathered from the Focus Group will help to inform the design of interview schedules and the nationwide survey of professionals. 

Feedback will be given to individual women who take part using accessible written and pictorial materials.  The information will also be made available via booklets printed in plain English, a DVD and will also be on the Tizard website and will include advice on how to avoid and escape violent relationships.  There will also be targeted briefing papers for key professionals, Police, Social Care Practitioners and women’s refuge staff, so as to influence best practice, as well as briefings for local and national policy makers and academic dissemination through publications and presentations.

We would really like to hear from:

  • any organisations in Kent and South-East London that have had contact with women with learning disabilities who have recently experienced domestic violence and who may be able to pass on information about the research project to these women.
  • Any individuals or domestic violence support organisations anywhere in the UK who might like to share experiences or discuss the project in any way.

Please contact us on 01227 823116 or email




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