Seeking the Voice of Experience: The Complexities of Researching Women’s Accounts of Their (Ex-) Partner’s Engagement with Living Free from Violence Programmes

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Massey University
Previous research into the effectiveness and impact of domestic violence programmes has often focused on recidivism and re-offence data or self-report measures. Such research is constrained by a reliance on incidences of violence being officially reported and by legal definitions of intimate violence, limiting our understandings of women’s lived experiences of safety. Missing voice research is problematic because of the tensions between research processes and the prioritisation of maintaining women’s safety. To be able to engage in the process of researching women’s experiences of their (ex) partners’ engagement with men’s Living Free from Violence programmes requires an understanding of the complexities of developing relationships and processes that privilege and protect women’s safety throughout the research journey, and necessitates an understanding of the barriers to participation. This involves a collaborative and supportive working partnership to be formed and developed between the researcher and the community, one that at all times maintains the awareness that women’s safety must be the focus of research, both in outcome and process. This paper discusses the complexities involved in our attempts to understand how women experience issues of change and safety as a result of their partner’s involvement in a local Living Free from Violence programme.
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Intimate partner violence, Community collaboration, Safety, Living Free from Violence programmes