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  • Author or Editor: Christine Barter x
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The primary focus of this chapter is to explore girls’ experiences of sexual victimisation in their intimate relationships and to provide messages for school-based responses. By concentrating on female victimisation, we do not wish to imply that boys’ experiences of intimate violence are any less worthy of attention. However, research using self-reports on the effects of violence (both physical and emotional) indicate that boys report fewer, less serious impacts to their welfare than girls do (Barter et al, 2009). This is especially true in relation to sexual violence. In addition, studies indicate that violence carried out by girls; is often a direct response to their own victimisation (Cook and Swan, 2006; Allen et al, 2009). If a large proportion of violence carried out by girls is a response to their partners’ initial aggression, by reducing violence carried out by boys we will inevitably also reduce girls’ use of retaliatory violence.

So how significant a problem is intimate sexual violence against girls? Previous national and international findings on intimate sexual violence provide contrasting results although all testify to its significance. Estimates of sexual coercion and violence range from 4% to as high as 80% although most studies consistently show that girls are most likely to be victims and males perpetrators (Lane and Gwartney-Gibbs, 1985; Muehlenhard and Linton, 1987; Gamache, 1991; Silverman et al, 2001, Ackard et al, 2003). Muehlenhard and Linton (1987) report that 15% of their sample had been rape victims and that nearly 80% had experienced some form of unwanted sexual activity from their boyfriends, mostly forced kissing and touching.

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Studies researching interpersonal violence (IPV) are associated with a range of ethical challenges. In this article, lessons are drawn from three case studies exploring the experiences of different groups of survivors and perpetrators of IPV in diverse contexts: refugees in the Thailand-Burma border area; partner-violent adult men and female survivors in Ireland; and school children in five European countries. The ethical – and associated methodological – challenges faced, and the ways in which they were overcome, are presented. Drawing on the case studies presented, the article concludes that three key areas require special attention when conducting research in this field: accessing and recruiting participants, researcher skills and experience, and appropriate use of data.

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In the context of high rates of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) during the pandemic, specialist DVA services have been required to adapt rapidly to continue to deliver essential support to women and children in both refuges and the community. This study examines service users’ experiences and views of DVA service provision under COVID-19 and discusses implications for future practice. Data are drawn from a wider evaluation of DVA services in five sites in England. Fifty-seven semi-structured interviews and five focus groups were conducted with 70 female survivors and seven children accessing DVA services during the pandemic. Analysis identified key themes in respect of the influence of COVID-19 on the experience of service delivery. COVID-19 restrictions had both positive and negative implications for service users. Remote support reduced face-to-face contact with services, but consistent communication counteracted isolation. Digital practices offered effective means of providing individual and group support, but there were concerns that not all children were able to access online support. Digital support offered convenience and control for survivors but could lack privacy and opportunities for relationship-building. The pivot to remote delivery suggests directions where DVA services can expand the range and nature of future service provision.

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