Image of controlling behaviour is a winner

A prize-winning image of domestic abuse by University of Leicester researchers is to benefit a women’s charity in the city.

The powerful image conveys a narrative of abuse in a compelling manner which judges at the University's Images of Research Competition adjudged to be the best. The Competition enables researchers across the institution to convey their research areas in a single, communicative visual form.

Lecturers from our Department of Criminology Dr Clare Gunby and Dr Rebecca Barnes saw their entry, ‘Coercive Control’, win in the categories of Best Staff Image and Best Image in the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. The image itself was inspired by their longstanding research with survivors of gender-based violence, including a recent Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner funded project called ‘Protect, Support and Respond to Repeat Female Victims of Medium Risk Domestic Abuse’.

Dr Gunby said: “We wanted to visualise the insidious, debilitating, everyday behaviours that sit at the core of domestically abusive relationships but that frequently remain invisible to public view. The Images of Research Competition enabled us to do that and it is pertinent that our image had such an impact on the judges.”

Now Drs Gunby and Barnes have donated the £500 prize winning from the competition to Women’s Aid Leicester and Leicestershire (WALL). They also donated baking goods and equipment to support refuge residents’ involvement in regular baking sessions.

Dr Barnes commented: “We hope that this donation will help to fund activities which will increase women’s self-worth and quality of life – aspects which are grossly diminished by enduring abuse and coercive control.”

A representative from WALL said: “We are very grateful for the generous donation of your well-earned prize money. The picture truly captures coercive control and is extremely thought provoking.  The money will go directly to support women and children in our refuges.  When moving into a refuge, it is a very difficult and traumatic time in their lives. To help with their transition we provide therapeutic activities. The money will be put into these activity sessions. Women’s Aid Leicestershire Ltd would like to thank Dr Clare Gunby and Dr Rebecca Barnes for thinking of our charity. Also, our residents are very happy with the baking goods that were given and will be sharing their ‘Bake Off’ creations on our social media.”

WALL Leicester provides life-saving, free, confidential specialist support and advocacy to victims of domestic abuse regardless of age, gender, cultural identity or sexuality. They provide safe and secure refuges to house victims in urgent need of a safe place to stay, supporting women that have had to flee from abusive relationships and often arrive with little or no belongings.  Women’s Aid help survivors to understand the dynamics of abuse and support with the effect that this has had on them and their children throughout their stay.