Shining a light on Sunderland’s ‘hidden victims’ of domestic abuse

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A COMMUNITY champion has helped launch pioneering research into the impact of domestic abuse on its “hidden victims”.

Ruth Thompson OBE,pledged to raise awareness of violence in the home – and particularly its effect on children – when she was sworn in as the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear last April.

Now, she has joined forces with Durham University and seven housing providers, including Gentoo, to help carry out vital research on the issues facing young children, forced to witness domestic abuse each day.

The High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear’s 50th Anniversary PhD Scholarship is now calling for students to apply to carry out the research.

The scholarship, which will form part of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse, CRiVA, at Durham University, will involve talking to children and young people who have witnessed domestic abuse, and to domestic abuse practitioners and people involved in housing provision.

It includes in-depth reviews on possible interventions in domestic abuse, with particular emphasis on the role housing associations can play when abuse is taking place in their properties.

Mrs Thompson, from Cleadon, said: “A gap has been identified in current research on the impacts of domestic abuse in relation to children.

“This new work will be the first time that research has considered housing and domestic violence through a child’s eyes, by talking to children and young people who have witnessed domestic abuse, and to domestic abuse practitioners and people involved in housing provision.

“It will also consist of an in-depth, international literature review on interventions with children and young people and domestic violence, with particular emphasis on the role of housing.”

The housing associations involved in the partnership – Derwentside Homes, North Star, Grainger plc, Incommunities, North Star, Poplar Harca and Gentoo – have provided funding for the research, which will take place at Durham University over the course of three years.

Mrs Thompson added: “I am very grateful for the generous gift from these like-minded, caring housing organisations, that will fund this new research into the housing issues faced by children who are living with domestic abuse.

“My ambition is that this research will set out ways to help, which the housing providers are well-positioned to address, and so make a positive difference for the children and young people who live with the plight of domestic abuse.

“As a graduate myself of Durham University, I am delighted that the PhD scholarship will form part of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) at Durham University, and mark the 50 years of Sociology and Social Policy at Durham University.”

Peter Walls, chief executive of Gentoo, said: “Abuse often happens in the home and as our employees are in a position of trust with access to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, we are ideally placed to offer help.

“We have a long-standing commitment to tackling domestic abuse, but we know we can’t do it on our own.

“Through this scholarship we hope to help those who need help the most and eradicate the crime and the long-term effects abuse can have on victims.

“Domestic abuse can affect anyone – no matter what age, gender, sexual orientation or income and this research will provide a valuable insight.”

One, three-year scholarship is available, with the closing date for applications on February 27.

The Scholarship is being offered by the university in association with the Centre for Research in Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) at the university.

For more information on the research scholarship and how to apply, log onto www.dur.ac.uk/scholarships/postgraduate/university/hs50.