Research network aims to help eliminate Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence

DASV research network Wales logo EN.jpg

Academics at the University of South Wales (USW) have established a research network to work towards the elimination of Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and SexualViolence (VAWDASV).

The research network is led by Dr Sarah Wallace, Senior Research Fellow at the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care (WIHSC), and Dr Emily Underwood-Lee, Associate Professor of Performance Studies at the George Ewart Evans Centre forStorytelling University South Wales. It is governed by a core group of academics, policy makers, and practitioners from the VAWDASV sector in Wales, and will be supported by a dedicated member of staff from the WalesViolence Prevention Unit at Public Health Wales.

The aim is to develop an inclusive research community for Wales that provides a safe, open forum to bring together those who are working towards an end to VAWDASV to set the future research agenda, foster collaboration and develop grant applications, undertake high quality research, and work towards the elimination of VAWDASV.  

Dr Emily Underwood-Lee EmilyWhy now?

Speaking of the need for the network, Dr Emily Underwood-Lee (left) said: “The cultural and social landscape is changing rapidly.  The pandemic, and associated lockdowns, led to an increase in awareness of VAWDASV and an exponential increase in demand for VAWDASV services.  

“COVID also highlighted the importance of care and the interconnectedness of our communities and how we all benefit when we support one another.  Wales is leading the way in VAWDASV legislation but was lacking a network that brought together researchers and the VAWDASV sector. It is this gap that the VAWDASV Research Network Wales hopes to address.  

Dr Sarah Wallace

Dr Sarah Wallace (right) added: “The VAWDASV research network Wales is an exciting and valuable opportunity for inclusive partnership working, to develop and undertake research that works towards an end to VAWDASV. 

Before entering academia, Dr Wallace worked within in the sector supporting women and men who had experienced domestic abuse. “My research has primarily centred on male survivors of domestic abuse including a focus on their needs and experiences as well as developing The Compass Programme, a recovery programme for men developed in partnership with Calan DVS and USW colleagues,” she said.  

“I am committed to the recognition and support for all survivors and my hope is that via distinct partnerships built through the network, we will generate research and share knowledge and expertise to inform positive change for survivors, the sector and wider practice/support.”

Dr Emily Underwood-Lee created the award-winning research project Forty Voices, Forty Years in partnership with Welsh Women's Aid. She said: "My research is centred around the stories that people tell about their lives.  By recording survivor’s stories, we can amplify their voices.  By listening to a diverse range of survivor’s stories, we can ensure that survivor voice is at the heart of the VAWDASV sector.  I hope that, by bringing together researchers and practitioners from a range of backgrounds, we can all strengthen one another’s practice with the ultimate aim of using research to work towards a caring, equitable and violence-free society."


The network aims to align all of its activities with the policy landscape of Wales, for example the landmark Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act (Wales) Act 2015, The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and The Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

“By determining and understanding the research and practice priorities for Wales, we can share knowledge and expertise, ensuring that the network is accessible and inclusive, and develop future partnership working across the UK and internationally," Dr Underwood-Lee said.

Member organisations

  • Aberystwyth University
  • Aberystwyth University
  • Bawso
  • Calan DVS
  • Cardiff University
  • Disability Wales
  • MWW Regional VAWDASV Partnership
  • New Pathways
  • North Wales Regional VAWDASV team
  • NSPCC Cymru
  • Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
  • Police Liaison Unit
  • Prime Centre Wales
  • Royal College of Nursing Wales
  • Swansea University
  • University of South Wales
  • University of Wales Trinity Saint Davids
  • Wales Violence Prevention Unit/Public Health Wales
  • Welsh Government
  • Welsh Women's Aid
  • Wrexham Glyndwr University

Launch event

The VAWDASV Research Network Wales will be officially launched on 25 November at USW’s Cardiff Campus, which will also mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The event will include keynote speeches from Jane Hutt MS, the Minister for Social Justice and have a panel discussion with panellists including:

  • Nancy Lidubwi, Violence Against Women Policy Officer, BAWSO
  • Lara Snowden, Violence Prevention Programme Lead, Public Health Wales
  • Debbie Woodroffe, Head of Training and Research, New Pathways
  • Tina Rees, Head of Services and Survivor Engagement, Welsh Women’s Aid


Connect with the VAWDASV Research Network via Twitter @VAWDASVWales for more information on its research activities or contact Dr Sarah Wallace or Dr Emily Underwood-Lee.