I was delighted to be awarded the VAMHM Early Career Researcher Bursary for attending and presenting at the 4th European Conference on Domestic Violence 2021 to share my research focusing on male victims of domestic abuse experiences seeking professional medical help. The purpose of the conference is to provide an opportunity for researchers, academics, students, professionals, policymakers and practitioners from across Europe to share their knowledge, build connections and share good practices. The conference focused on several themes, including domestic violence in specific communities, intervention/protection, broader context ( e.g., gender equality,) children and young people and research issues. Keynote speakers included: Professor Cathy Humphreys discussing responding to children living with domestic abuse in the context of their relationships, Dr Jasna Podreka discussing femicide: the evolution of the definition and meaning, Dr Hannah Bows keynote on the missing generation – violence against older women in Europe and Professor Iris Luarasi keynote on Istanbul Convention and its threat of destroying the norms of families.
My interest in attending the conference was to further my understanding of different approaches used to support abuse victims, particularly male victims, and establish connections. Attending this conference, I was able to achieve both. On the first day of the conference, Rebecca Gulowski presented research on typology of female offenders in an intimate partnership, followed up by The Compass Programme: An evaluation of a recovery programme for male victims/ survivors of domestic violence and abuse presented by Sarah Wallace, Carolyn Wallace, Owain Jones, Michelle Whelan and Gareth Branch, which were both two eye-opening presentations, to name a few fantastic presentations. The conference was engaging and informative, and ECDV saved presenters recordings, which I am incredibly grateful for, allowing the opportunity to go back and review findings, source links and also see any content I missed. At the conference, I learned about people’s experiences of domestic abuse, the supportive provisions available, and what each country was doing to eradicate domestic violence was promising to see the impressive work many are conducting. There was a thought-provoking discussion on policies and language used throughout the conference, gender inclusivity, and risk assessment management.
Being provided with the opportunity to share my research on male abuse victims, I felt prompted several discussions during and post-conference. My findings were meant with positive thoughts on developing more inclusive services within healthcare to identify and support male victims of abuse. ECDV is one of the largest domestic abuse conferences internationally, which provided a fantastic opportunity to promote the importance of healthcare professionals approaches to support domestic abuse victims, particularly male victims, as demonstrated in my research. The wealth of knowledge and experience of those attended within the field of policymaking and domestic abuse allowed me to discuss my current PhD research and develop new ideas with international connections. I am currently completing my PhD on research focusing on male domestic abuse victims’ experience when seeking familiar support at the University of Wolverhampton, and the wealth of research at the ECDV will assist in its development. I felt honoured to be presenting these victims stories, sharing the importance of reducing barriers for male victims of abuse to seek support.