Survivors of domestic abuse can shatter the cycle of domestic violence

Survivors of domestic abuse can shatter the cycle of domestic violence

It’s a commonly held belief that children who grow up with domestic violence are more likely to perpetuate domestic abuse or be victims themselves into adulthood.

Researchers at the University of South Australia are challenging this trajectory, establishing factors that have helped young adults reject domestic violence and form healthy relationships, despite growing up with domestic violence themselves.

Funded by the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, the Australian-first research will draw on the lived experiences of 200 young people (aged 18-30), who experienced domestic violence between their caregivers to identify people in their networks, social contexts, supports and systems that may have helped them form healthy relationships free of violence and abuse.

It’s a timely study, especially following the Australian government’s disastrous and ill-advised ‘milkshake’ campaign that served up a $3.8 million flop in an attempt to educate children about consensual relationships.

Lead researcher, Dr Fiona Buchanan says the study will deliver tangible, evidence-based information to help media campaigners, policy makers and practitioners accurately plan and deliver successful initiatives to encourage young people to thrive.

“What helps young people create healthy relationships and reject violence?” – Dr Fiona Buchanan, recipient of a 2021 Research Grant by the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation. Read full summary.

“Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in Australia, and despite all efforts, there is no indication that the numbers are falling,” Dr Buchanan says.

Statistics show that nearly one in four women have experienced domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner, with nearly 60 per cent saying that the abuse was witnessed by their children.

“It is known hat children who are born into domestic violence can inherit psychological challenges and developmental hurdles – and often, people assume that these children will become products of their lived environment, emulating the relationships they grew up with as they become adults.

“But what is overlooked is that a child’s upbringing is the sum of all its parts – including a range of social contexts, opportunities, limitations, and influences that can shape beliefs, perceptions and behaviours.

“Our research is asking young people, who are the experts in their own lives, what helped them as children growing up in domestic violence to find out what has positively influenced them about relationships and helped them reject the transmission of intergenerational violence.

“This has big implications for challenging these ongoing assumptions that children will go on to perpetuate the violence they see in their homes.”

A pilot study has been completed and the researchers are now calling for young people who have grown up in domestic violence to complete an online questionnaire to help us find out what can help others who endure domestic violence as children.

The link to the survey is: https://redcap.link/youngpeoplerejectingdvsurvey

Notes to editors:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Media contact: Annabel Mansfield T: +61 8 8302 0351 M: +61 417 717 504
E: Annabel.Mansfield@unisa.edu.au

Researcher: Dr Fiona Buchanan E: Fiona.Buchanan@unisa.edu.au