Updated: Jun 9, 2020
By Emma Williamson
"Our agenda is simple, exploration with the hope for an impactful, positive outcome."
Learning about Domestic Abuse
For the past month I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Elisa Iannacone on a project around domestic abuse. Our agenda is simple, exploration with the hope for an impactful positive outcome. Elisa, a journalist, and myself a filmmaker, will likely find ourselves following a different path to charities, NGOs and governmental bodies. However, the unifying goal, no doubt, is to produce something informative and ultimately preventative.
We have been in a period that we like to describe as immersion, learning everything we can about domestic abuse, its manifestation, its outcomes and its origins. I myself have focused primarily on how it presents in UK society today. I am aware I have only scratched the surface and my knowledge is almost entirely theoretical, but it is this incomprehension driving me forward, to learn and find a narrative that helps others to understand.
I began by studying Gender-Based Violence at John’s Hopkins University, a course that opened my eyes to the worldwide impact of domestic abuse and raised my first major query which I will write about further - Is domestic abuse a gendered issue?
Whilst studying this course, aimed primarily at medical practitioners, I realised something immediately, and that is the importance of frontline staff, nurses, police officers, psychologists, social workers and teachers. These people are a fundamental part of identifying and minimising the impact of domestic abuse and will be among the first people we will interview in this process.
The course was a perfect platform to start from. I found it gave me my first true insight and that was the importance and power of education. Take for example an accident and emergency nurse? Educating them on the appropriate process for approaching, processing and supporting a victim of domestic violence is invaluable to stopping a cycle of abuse. A proper response in this context could save countless victims. For example listening without judgement, validating them and helping them begin to plan for their safety is crucial. Although these seem like obvious responses, sometimes the subtlety in language and intention are all it takes to build a rapport that could help a person take the first step to getting help.
If you are a key worker, be that a nurse or a police officer and you feel your current work environment has not provided enough resources to support you to take the right actions in this area, signing up to a programme such as this could be invaluable. You can sign up for free or pay a small fee to receive a certificate, however I believe the the accreditation is not necessary as the knowledge is the most important asset. This very simple first step could widen your knowledge base and enhance your empathy for a situation you truly can help with, and like me, you might feel more empowered to contribute in an impactful way.
As a foundation for beginning this research, I feel l have started at the very tip of the iceberg and my hope is to progressively make my way downwards to explore the source of the epidemic that is domestic abuse.