It’s a commonly held belief that children who grow up with domestic violence are more likely to perpetuate domestic abuse or be victims themselves into adulthood.
Researchers at the University of South Australia are challenging this trajectory, establishing factors that have helped young adults reject domestic violence and form healthy relationships, despite growing up with domestic violence themselves.
Funded by the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, the Australian-first research will draw on the lived experiences of 200 young people (aged 18-30), who experienced domestic violence between their caregivers to identify people in their networks, social contexts, supports and systems that may have helped them form healthy relationships free of violence and abuse.
Lead researcher, Dr Fiona Buchanan says the study will deliver tangible, evidence-based information to help campaigners, policy makers and practitioners accurately plan and deliver successful initiatives to encourage young people to thrive.
“Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in Australia, and despite all efforts, there is no indication that the numbers are falling,” Dr Buchanan says.
“It is known that children who are born into domestic violence can inherit psychological challenges and developmental hurdles – and often, people assume that these children will become products of their lived environment, emulating the relationships they grew up with as they become adults.
“But what is overlooked is that a child’s upbringing is the sum of all its parts – including a range of social contexts, opportunities, limitations, and influences that can shape beliefs, perceptions and behaviours.
“Our research is asking young people, who are the experts in their own lives, what helped them as children growing up in domestic violence to find out what has positively influenced them about relationships and helped them reject the transmission of intergenerational violence.
“This has big implications for challenging these ongoing assumptions that children will go on to perpetuate the violence they see in their homes.”
A pilot study has been completed and the researchers are now calling for young people who have grown up in domestic violence to complete an online questionnaire to help us find out what can help others who endure domestic violence as children.
The link to the survey is: https://redcap.link/youngpeoplerejectingdvsurvey
Notes to editors:
- Family, domestic, and sexual violence is a major health and welfare issue. It occurs across all ages, socioeconomic and demographic groups but mainly affects women and children.
- Men are also victims/survivors of violence and abuse, from females and also same-sex male partners, but research shows 95 per cent of violence is inflicted by male perpetrators.
- Young men and women (under age 30) who have experienced family abuse as a child and wish to participate in the study can visit: https://redcap.link/youngpeoplerejectingdvsurvey
- Additional statistics and info graphics about domestic violence are available at the ABS site here: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/personal-safety-australia/latest-release