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This page describes the methodology behind the original 2016-17 iteration of the research.


For information on the methodology behind the latest, 2019 research update, please read page 10 and 11 of the 2019 sector-focused discovery research update report here




The research gathered insights over 6 months from over 200 survivors of domestic 

abuse (over 18 years old) and 350 practitioners who support them. The research included both qualitative user research and quantitative methods. This consisted of online surveys, focus groups, online interviews, discussion in survivor-led Facebook groups, informal discussions with practitioners, workshops, and having researchers shadow practitioners and conduct contextual interviews at their workplace.



If you need urgent help related to domestic abuse please contact Women's Aid or call the National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247

Through this process, four distinct stages of women’s experiences in an abusive relationship were identified. Whilst domestic abuse is not a linear experience or one which will necessarily involve each of these stages, the research team identified distinct needs for each of these separate stages.


These were:

  • Unaware: Experiencing abuse but yet to fully identify this as coercive control.

  • Aware: Recognises that a partner is abusive, but has not made any decisions about what next and may not intend to end the relationship.

  • Leaving: Deciding to end the relationship and working out the best way to do this, including thinking about alternative living arrangements (if relevant)

  • Recovering: Has ended the relationship and is focusing on the future, but may still be in contact with their abuser, fearful of further harm, considering returning to their ex-partner or potentially at risk of entering into another abusive relationship.pp

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