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

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Women’s domestic abuse support services have developed over the past decades with the inclusion of women surviving abuse as practitioners themselves (Mullender and Hague, 2001; Slattery and Goodman, 2009; Bemiller and Williams, 2011). Following a literature review of this area, women ‘survivor support workers’ or ‘peer support/mentors’ have rarely been given the opportunity to articulate what it is that they are gaining personally and the impact in undertaking this emotionally challenging work. This small-scale 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 as survivors of domestic abuse when working in this practice area. Twelve women ‘survivor support workers’ from five distinct English organisations took part in this research. Qualitative interviews were 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.
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Keywords: domestic abuse; peer mentor; peer support; re-victimisation; survivor; women

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Worcester, UK

Publication date: February 2020

This article was made available online on January 16, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Exploring the experiences of domestic abuse survivors working in the field of domestic abuse support: assisting recovery or re-victimisation revisited?".

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  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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