A subject worthy of in-depth study

The first specialised qualification in domestic violence started running in September last year. Graham Hopkins reports

Although there are several academic and training courses that cover domestic violence, the University of Worcester in September 2005 opened the first specialised domestic violence course in the country.

The one-year, three-module course, leading to a postgraduate certificate in “the dynamics of domestic violence”, is run and was part-devised by lecturer Ruth Jones. “I have worked in the field of domestic violence as a volunteer and paid worker for many agencies for about 15 years and recognised the need for the work – paid and unpaid – to be formally recognised with a qualification as well as ensuring asound knowledge for themany complex issues surrounding domestic violence, legislation andbest practice.”

Jones suggested the course could fill such a need and the university which has strong links with the community, responded positively.

This course examines domestic violence from a sociological perspective, looking at the many theories about why it occurs, its effects on those experiencing it and on society, and how professionals can recognise and respond to it effectively.

The sessions examine domestic violence between partners or former partners, including violence perpetrated by men against women, by women against men and violence in same sex relationships.

The emphasis though, will be on violence perpetuated by men against women, as research consistently shows that most reported cases of domestic violence are of this nature.

“We had a phenomenal response to the course from people all over Great Britain including the Isle of Man and Jersey,” says Jones. “We accepted 10 students for our first intake and from a range of professionals including social services, housing, children’s services, NHS and domestic violence forums. They are doing very well and have really gelled as a group supporting and learning from each other as well as myself.”

The group also benefits from outside expertise, including presentations from the local drug team, a solicitor of family law, Worcestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, Worcester and Malvern Women’s Aid, and others covering ethnicity and domestic violence, and domestic violence in pregnancy.

The intake, however, was kept deliberately small. “It was the first time it has run and we wanted to see how it worked,” explains Jones. “But we have already have started the process for a much larger intake this September. Also we are aware of the need to allow access to those who contacted us from afar but could not attend and we are considering additional ways of running the course – distance learning, intensive weekends and so on.”

With such developments in progress, the subject clearly has done anything but run its course.

For advice and information about the course, please contact Ruth Jones on 01905 855310 or e-mail: r.jones@worc.ac.uk

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