Hidden from survey data – women on the move

Many of the statistics you might hear quoted about domestic violence are from surveys.  In Britain, this may be particularly the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and the Crime Survey of England and Wales.


However, these surveys are asked of a sample of people from a household register – so specifically exclude anyone who is on the move, in temporary accommodation, staying with friends or family, staying in a women’s refuge…


So the survey data you hear quoted has systematically excluded anyone on the move because of domestic violence – the statistics on domestic violence are actually excluding some of the women most affected by domestic violence…


It’s a problem.


It’s one of the reasons why this ‘Women on the Move’ research uses administrative data about people accessing temporary accommodation because of domestic violence.  Next week at the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) annual conference in Edinburgh there will be a presentation about using administrative data as a safe way to research these hidden domestic violence journeys.  See http://www.adrn2017.net/agenda.html


For a discussion about how surveys could better measure violence, see an article in the new ‘Journal of Gender-Based Violence’ (http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/jgbv) where Sylvia Walby and Jude Towers highlight the “long-standing concern as to the exclusion of those who are, temporarily, not staying in their permanent place of residence, since this may be a result of domestic violence”. (Walby and Towers, 2017: 17).


You will also see a new article about this ‘Women on the Move’ research – about how policy and practice can further fragment women’s domestic violence journeys (Bowstead, 2017).



Bowstead JC. 2017. Segmented journeys, fragmented lives: Women’s forced migration to escape domestic violence. Journal of Gender-Based Violence 1: 43–58 DOI: 10.1332/239868017X14912933953340

Walby S, Towers J. 2017. Measuring violence to end violence: mainstreaming gender. Journal of Gender-Based Violence 1: 11–31 DOI: 10.1332/239868017X14913081639155

Moving – and Moving On

The metaphor of ‘moving on’ is more often used in policy and practice responses to domestic violence than thinking about the actual journeys of women and children moving all around the country.


Women often experience their literal journeys as unsettling and disorientating; and therefore feel that they will not really know where they are going with their lives until they can stop literally going places.


“I was just feeling like – you still don’t know where you are going, what you are doing, you know.  I was just – until before I was like – I don’t know what I’m doing; you know you feel embarrassed sometimes – moving all your stuff, you know; and with children and all that.  It was like – oh, what am I doing, what am I doing?  Where am I going?  It’s not easy.  You don’t know really – it’s only like that I left but I don’t know where I’m going.”

[Julien Rosa – age 24 with 3 and 7 year old boys]


They feel that they need to stop moving, to be able to get their lives back on course.


“In a way I feel quite drained and really tired; I can’t wait to just get in to a new place and just sit – not physically, but mentally.  To be able to just –[sigh]- it’s done; and just wake up and be all like – this is it – I’m going, I’m moving – not just plodding, plodding, plodding.”      

[Louise – age 28, with 7 year old girl]


All the moving means that women feel stuck – that their lives have been put on hold.


“I just think – where would I be now if I hadn’t moved – where would I be?  Because I’ve moved so many times – years have had to be put on hold because of it – and I didn’t want to start life this late.  Like going to college and things like that – it should have been done a long time ago.”

[Jenny – age 21, with a 3 year old girl]


It is when they finally become more settled that they feel they are able to start ‘moving on’.


“I’ve just been so lucky really – really have.  It’s just that – after years of hell – all of a sudden I’m in this place – and I don’t mean the flat – I mean this wonderful place; and it just feels amazing.  And I just think – feeling like that – helps you then to move on with other things as well.”

[Helen – age 52 with 3 adult children]