About Us - The UNARS Team

‘Understanding Agency and Resistance Strategies’ (UNARS) is a two-year multinational research project which aims to understand how children and young people cope during and after living in situations of domestic abuse.

Of particular interest are the strategies children employ to help themselves and their family members cope, and the ways they build a positive sense of self despite difficult family circumstances. The project will develop a brief intervention, focused on working with young people to develop and strengthen these abilities in children dealing with domestic abuse.

UNARS is a four nation European Project led by Dr Jane Callaghan at the Centre for Children & Youth,  University of Northampton, UK. The UNARS team brings together academics and practitioners specialising in the fields of domestic abuse, policy & public health. Partners are based in Valencia, Spain;  Umbria, Italy; Puglia, Italy; Thessaloniki, Greece; and Northampton, United Kingdom.

UNARS is funded by Daphne III, a European Commission funding stream that is focused on the protection of women, children and young people from forms of violence.

Understanding Young People’s Experiences of agency and resistance in domestic abuse

UNARS explores three key areas:

  • How children & young people cope during and after living in situations of domestic abuse (through interviews)
  • The ways professionals & carers perceive and articulate children’s capacity for resilience (through professional & carer focus groups)
  • The policy context framing children in situations of domestic abuse (through professional focus groups and thorough anlysis of domestic abuse policy contexts)

In order to gain an understanding of children’s capacity to cope during and after living in situations of domestic abuse, we are conducting interviews with children and young people aged 8-19. In each of the four participating European countries we are inviting twenty children and young people to take part in one-to-one, semi-structured interviews which explore how they coped and what resources (personal, interpersonal, material, etc) enabled them to be resilient in situations of violence.

Focus groups with parents and carers are also conducted in order to explore the ways that parents perceive and articulate their children’s coping strategies and experiences of domestic abuse. Findings from our three key areas of research will inform the design, implementation and evaluation of two training and intervention programmes designed to enhance children’s capacity for agency and resilience in situations of domestic abuse.

A centrepiece of the UNARS project is the Photovoice Exhibit, in which young people are invited to use photography to tell personal stories about how they lived with domestic abuse. Participants will also be encouraged to use different mediums to facilitate the telling of their stories such as drawing, painting, writing or audio-recording. Young people will have the opportunity to meet one another and collaborate together creatively to build exhibits within each participating country. Policy makers and professionals will be invited to the exhibits. This public engagement will allow young people to have a voice, both locally and across Europe, by drawing together and representing the experiences of young people across the four European partner countries.