Project Details

UNCOVER: UNderstanding COercive control and psychological ViolencE to inform health sectoR change.

Psychological violence (PV), including coercive control, reproductive coercion, emotional, financial and spiritual abuse is an underdeveloped field and the little we know about the effects on both women and children are complex and often hidden.

Health services are uniquely placed to identify the diverse needs of women and provide responses where different types of abuse are occurring. However there is inadequate training, workplace support and clarity around referral protocols and pathways to build and sustain the knowledge, skills, and confidence of health providers to enquire and respond to psychological violence.

The work of the Safer Families Centre will assist a deeper understanding of PV, the links between physical and psychological violence, the needs of women experiencing these types of violence and how health services can respond.


  1. To understand and measure reproductive coercion and women's needs of support from the health system.
  2. To explore links between different types of abuse (psychological, physical, sexual) to develop health practitioner response.
  3. To assess whether there is evidence of an increase in psychological and physical violence during the pandemic, and to what extent survivors (mothers and adolescents) subsequently engage with health services.
  4. To analyse the non-physical risk factors for increased severity of intimate partner and sexual violence.
  5. To develop and pilot a health system model to nuance and tailor responses based on the above results.

The key focus for this project is on psychological violence and how this type of abuse needs to be urgently addressed in the identification and response to domestic violence in health services.

  • Achieve an effective dialogue of key messaging for policy and practice that addresses psychological violence alongside other types of domestic violence
  • Build a practical health system model, based on new knowledge, to mobilise innovation for health services to effectively engage with women and their children experiencing psychological violence
  • Facilitate health services to empower women experiencing psychological violence to seek safety and healing using a trauma and violence informed approach, sensitive to various contexts and cultures
  • Work in partnership with and reflect the voices and realities of women with lived experience of psychological violence, with a focus on culturally and linguistically diverse needs of women
  • Generate evidence that influences policy and practice globally to promote social and cultural change towards psychological violence being seen as part of the spectrum of domestic violence to prevent trauma to women and their children.

Project Update:

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This project is funded by the Oak Foundation.

Research Group

Sexual and Family Violence

School Research Themes

Women's Health, Infectious Diseases and Immunity

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

General Practice and Primary Care

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