Janet C. Bowstead [http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0194-7688] is a researcher with a professional background in frontline, policy and coordination work on violence against women. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature, across geography, social policy and sociology; integrating quantitative, spatial, qualitative and creative methods www.womensjourneyscapes.net.
In published domestic violence strategies, there is a tendency to focus on service provision and service responses in each administrative location; rather than recognising the extent to which women and children move through places due to domestic abuse. Whilst a woman’s help-seeking may be local—if she has the information and resources, and judges it possible to do so—such help-seeking whilst staying put is only one of many strategies tried by women experiencing domestic violence. Women’s strategies are often under-recognised and under-respected by the very service providers which should be expected to be supporting women’s recovery from abuse. This article uses administrative data (monitoring records), which were collected as part of a funding programme, to provide evidence of women’s domestic violence help-seeking involving these types of housing-related services in England. More than 180,000 cases of service access over eight years provide evidence of women’s three help-seeking strategies in terms of place: Staying Put, Remaining Local, and Going Elsewhere; and the distinctive patterns of service involvement and responses to these strategies. Service providers typically attempt to assess women’s levels of “risk” and “need;” however, such snapshot assessments in terms of time and place can fail to address the dynamic interplay between women’s location strategies and their needs for safety, wellbeing and resettlement. In contrast, viewing the system from the perspective of what women do provides important insights into leaving abuse as a process—not an event—and highlights the impact of different types of services which help or hinder women’s own strategies.
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Bowstead, Janet C. (2021) "Stay Put; Remain Local; Go Elsewhere: Three Strategies of Women’s Domestic Violence Help Seeking," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 6: Iss. 3, Article 4. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2021.06.03.04