A grant of £46,938 has been awarded to University of Bristol for a 15-month study to investigate domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in UK military families…

The research will investigate what criteria might constitute specialist DVA provision for this group, and what service providers, if any, already meet these criteria, in order to help improve signposting to the service providers best placed to meet the needs of UK military families suffering DVA.

The first stage of the project involves talking to people who currently provide, use and refer to specialist DVA services, in order to help build a picture of what specialist DVA support for UK military families might look like. The second stage involves sharing the findings with UK Refuges Online – a long-established, government-funded online resource used by the sector to identify DVA services. By linking to this resource, the project will leave a legacy of support as the military families specialism will be integrated within UK Refuges Online as a permanent category.

The project will be conducted by Dr Emma Williamson, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Centre for Gender and Violence Research, at the University of Bristol.Dr Emma Williamson said: “This is a really exciting project which builds on previous research and will result in better signposting of military families to specialist domestic violence provision across the UK. Working with Women’s Aid, England, this research project is concerned with showcasing existing good practice, and directing those in need to it.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Currently there is no population-based evidence about the specific prevalence of DVA amongst military families in the UK. What we postulate, based on international research, is that such populations have higher rates of more severe forms of DVA compared to civilian populations, with a particular relation to combat exposure. Supporting these findings, UK research has shown that 12.6% of military personnel reported engaging in violent behaviours on their return from active military service, with an increased association between combat roles and the likelihood of violence.

"The completion of this project, being of both a research-based and practical nature, will help ensure that a small but vulnerable cohort can be supported by, and swiftly directed to, the most appropriate DVA service provision for their specific needs, whether still in service or during the transition to civilian life.”