The EU-funded None in Three project announces the publication of its new research report: TWENTY-ONE LESSONS: PREVENTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE CARIBBEAN. Published by the University of Huddersfield Press in the UK, the report has been widely distributed across the region and is available at: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/30898/. This qualitative study which was carried out by a team of Caribbean experts during 2016 explored the topic from the perspectives of women in especially vulnerable/marginalised circumstances and also included the views of men and youth.
EU Ambassador Daniela Tramacere said that research is an important part of a comprehensive, holistic societal approach to tackling domestic violence as it will enhance our understanding of the nature, scope and causes of the problem – and help practitioners to improve their responses. Asked why this research is different from other studies, Project Director, Professor Adele Jones explained that because it focused on particular groups of women it has been able to highlight specific needs that might have previously been overlooked. For example, the experiences of women who were subject to violence during pregnancy showed that though the general public tends to think of pregnancy as a period during which women should be able to expect care and support, for some this had been the trigger to their partners becoming violent.
Domestic violence during pregnancy risks the life of the mother and the child and the impact of violence on the foetus has been linked with behavioural problems for children in later life. This is fundamentally important information for health professionals since antenatal services are in a unique position to identify the signs of domestic violence at an early stage so that women can be referred for help and there are crucial lessons here too for child protection agencies. The study also revealed that the stigma attached to being HIV positive meant that domestic violence was often hidden because of threats by partners to reveal a woman’s HIV status should she report abuse. Yet another example concerned women with disabilities who were identified as having fewer options for escaping violence or accessing justice.
Professor Jones pointed out that while domestic violence is a universal problem, it comes in multiple forms and affects women in different ways; “If we are serious about providing effective services then we need to recognise the ways in which being vulnerable or marginalised might increase the risks of domestic violence for women”. She also commented on the role of men, stating that the males in the study reported feeling marginalised in discussions of domestic violence but given the opportunity, have much to offer in generating solutions.
Ambassador Tramacere said that it is important for men to not only stand up to men’s violence against women, but to teach young men a broader definition of masculinity that includes being empathetic, loving and non-violent. Engaging men and youth in this research led to important insights about how domestic violence is linked to family violence more broadly, especially violence towards children and that while men are calling to be more involved in developing interventions to tackle the problem, they believe it is essential to also have conversations about women who are violent.
Linked to this, the research identified the need for agencies to consider male victims of domestic violence as there is very little support for them and also to find ways of helping perpetrators of violence at an early stage, before they reach the courts. Ambassador Tramacere recalled that the study revealed powerful and disturbing narratives of (physical, sexual and emotional) violence as a continuum of abusive experiences over the lifespan which can become embedded within family and community life. She stressed that while our societies must tackle violent behaviours between adults, we must also try to change the attitudes and values that children learn when they witness these behaviours so that we can stop the cycle of violence.
Over the coming months, TWENTY-ONE LESSONS: PREVENTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE CARIBBEAN will be translated into easily digestible Policy and Practice Briefings and a series of Training Courses that will be made widely available. We will also publish our 21 Lessons in 21 Days Facebook Guide to the Research #21lessons21days – for the twenty-one days leading up to International Women’s Day (March 8th) the None in Three Project will have a daily feature of one of the research lessons posted on its Facebook page and its website www.noneinthree.org.