Intimate Partner Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: Insights and Lessons from Northern Ireland

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Key points:

  • An understanding of intimate partner (‘domestic’) violence that incorporates coercive and controlling behaviour related to threats of harassment and psychological abuse alongside physical violence, is crucial to addressing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
  • IPV is linked to the limited participation of women in society.
  • Decommissioning of illegally held firearms and regulation of legally held ones, alongside the process of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration, have significant implications for women experiencing IPV.
  • Conservative views in a society which stigmatise women (in particular) and classify IPV as a private family issue, present a significant barrier to getting help for and/or leaving violent relationships.

Recommendations:

  • Introduction of legislation incorporating psychological violence as offence in Northern Ireland. Other measures in this regard include additional training for service providers on indicators of coercive control, and public awareness campaigns.
  • Efforts to enhance gender equality and promote women’s participation in social, economic, and political life should seek ways to reduce the impact of IPV.
  • The link between poor mental health and IPV needs to be considered in healthcare policies and provision.
  • GPs need more effective and appropriate training on detecting and addressing IPV and on appropriate referral for victims of IPV.
  • Rights and safety skills for children/young people in schools, training courses and codes of practice for childcare/education staff and relevant professionals should be introduced to enhance awareness on the impact of IPV on children.
  • There is a need for a review of policy in relation to child custody and access arrangements where the issue of IPV arises.
  • Policy measures that help to challenge IPV through education, public awareness campaigns and training for service providers should be increasingly resourced. Codes of practice should be designed for identifying, recording, and responding to IPV across health and social service professions alongside training materials to ensure consistency of good practice.
  • The implications for women experiencing IPV of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration should be considered in political settlement negotiations and resource allocations.
  • Education, public awareness campaigns and training for service providers should take a gender sensitive approach which seeks to tackle gender stereotypes/norms.

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