"But if I had to plan my life, I'd have education, then a house, then a car, then children... "

                                                                                                                       George, 11 years old, UK

Listening to Children: Understanding experiences of agency and resistance in domestic abuse

In this project, our key goal is to develop a better understanding of young people's experiences of living with domestic abuse.  To explore how young people cope during and after domestic abuse, we are conducting interviews with children and young people aged 8-19.  In each of the four participating European countries we have invited 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.                                   

Our research is interested in helping young people to give voice to their experiences. But we understand that some experiences can be difficult to articulate, and that sometimes it is hard to 'give voice' to experiences that might be painful or complex, that might be non-normative, or might not fit with social expectations of 'victims'. Because of this, our research uses creative techniques to help young people to tell their stories.  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 facilitate young people's representation in public discourses around domestic abuse.  This will enable them to have a voice, both locally and across Europe, and to have an influence on how young people are seen and treated in policy and service contexts.