University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Exploring the experiences of domestic abuse survivors working in the field of domestic abuse support: assisting recovery or re-victimisation revisited?

Gilbert, Beverley ORCID: (2021) Exploring the experiences of domestic abuse survivors working in the field of domestic abuse support: assisting recovery or re-victimisation revisited? In: 4th European Conference on Domestic Violence, 13-15 September 2021, Slovenia (online).

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This presentation considers the experience of women who act as domestic abuse support workers or peer mentors and the impact on them, both positive and negative, of undertaking such demanding work with lived experience of domestic abuse themselves.

This study considers the voice of women survivors working in the field of domestic abuse support work, affording them the opportunity to explore the benefits and the costs to them personally. Twelve women survivor support workers from five distinct organisations in England took part in this research.

Semi structured, qualitative interviews were undertaken then analysed thematically within a feminist paradigm. Findings indicate that there are both highly positive aspects for survivors of abuse working in the domestic abuse sector, and equally, that there are areas of risk where re-victimisation and vicarious trauma could occur.

• The benefits to both survivor support work and to the women clients can be powerful within the domestic violence support sector.
• Survivor support workers can gain a sense of self- actualisation, esteem and belonging when working in the domestic abuse support sector. This can serve to empower women and to reinforce their personal sense of survival.
• There can be a risk of re-victimisation to the support worker, particularly where appropriate clinical supervisory support is not provided.

Conclusion: This research has implications for practice and for further research beyond this study. In using their own lived experience as a source of knowledge, a survivor support worker can enhance her own sense of self-worth, using her past experience positively to add to her own process of recovery and self-actualisation. The implications for practice include the need for an open recognition of lived experience and appropriate supportive supervision to negate the inherent risks connected when considering lived experience of abuse and working as a practitioner with other individuals surviving domestic violence.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:

A pdf file of this presentation is available to download from this WRaP record.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: domestic violence, survivor, experience, support work, IRWRG
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Beverley Gilbert
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2021 07:42
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2023 15:00

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