Young People and Intimate Partner Violence: Experiences of Support and Services in England

Although estimating the prevalence of victimisation among young people is challenging, previous research indicates that around a fifth of young people have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner, half experienced emotional victimisation, and a quarter report some type of unwanted sexual contact. National UK crime surveys consistently find young women to be at greater risk of victimisation than those over 25, and intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA) is one of the leading risks of death globally for younger women (aged 20–24).

In this paper, VISION Director Professor Gene Feder and colleagues from the University of Bristol and University of Central Lancashire, explored young people’s experiences of seeking or receiving institutional help and support in relation to IPVA.

Semi-structured interviews were carried with 18 young people aged 18 to 25, using Life History Calendars. Experiences of range of types of services in relation to intimate partner violence were explored, including support from education; primary and maternity services; third sector organisations; and counselling and support workers.

Participants said that they wanted clearer information to be provided in schools on identifying abuse from a younger age and better signposting and access to specialist services. They described how they benefited from equal power dynamics in relationships with professionals where they were supported to make their own decisions.

The authors found that young people often view adult support services as not for them and more needs to be done to understand effective responses to IPVA among different groups. Professionals in all sectors (including schools) need IPVA trauma-informed training that encourages equal power dynamics, with a clear understanding of and access to referral pathways, to be able to respond better to the specific needs of young people experiencing IPVA.

For further information please see: Young People and Intimate Partner Violence: Experiences of Institutional Support and Services in England | SpringerLink

Or contact Dr Maria Barnes at

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Different childhood adversities lead to different health inequalities

Even experiencing just one type of adverse childhood experience (ACE) increases the risks of poor health outcomes in adulthood, including health-harming behaviours, poor sexual and mental health, and crime and violence.

Among people experiencing one type of ACE, this study examined which ACEs were most strongly related to each type of health harms, using a combined study sample of 20,556 18–69 years living in England and Wales. The research team, including VISION researcher Mark Bellis, found that sexual abuse in childhood strongly predicted subsequent obesity. Sexual abuse also showed the biggest increase in later cannabis use. Household alcohol problems in childhood was the ACE most strongly associated with violence and incarceration in adulthood. 

Toxic stress can arise from ACEs such as physical and sexual abuse, but other more prevalent ACEs, for example verbal abuse and parental separation, may also contribute substantively to poorer life course health.

For further information, please see: Comparing relationships between single types of adverse childhood experiences and health-related outcomes: a combined primary data study of eight cross-sectional surveys in England and Wales | BMJ Open

Or contact Mark Bellis at

Photo by Adam McCoid on Unsplash

Intimate partner violence: Asking the right questions?

VISION Interim Director Gene Feder collaborated with Valeria Skafida from the University of Edinburgh and Christine Barter from the University of Central Lancashire to undertake a critical analysis of UK longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional population surveys which asked about experiences of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA).

Seven relevant UK representative population-based surveys which asked about IPVA among adults and/or young people (16–17 years old) were identified. They critically engaged with the questionnaires to analyse the strengths and limitations of existing UK data on IPVA.

Several limitations in UK surveys were identified. Many questions still showed a bias, partly historical, towards collecting more data about physical abuse. Few surveys asked about financial abuse, abuse post-separation or through child contact, or through technologies, though improvements were under way.

Surveys still sought to count incidents of abuse, instead of enquiring about the impact of abusive behaviours on victims. Ethnicity and other demographic variables were not always adequately captured (or accessible to data users), making it difficult to explore aspects of inequality. Potentially useful comparisons within the UK were difficult to undertake given the increasingly divergent questionnaires used in different UK nations.

They discussed how future iterations of existing surveys or new surveys can improve with regards to how questions about IPVA are asked. Given that surveys across geographical contexts often suffer similar weaknesses, their findings are relevant for IPVA survey methodology beyond the UK context.

For further information please see: Asking the Right Questions? A Critical Overview of Longitudinal Survey Data on Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse Among Adults and Young People in the UK | SpringerLink