White Ribbon Day: I believe that research holds the power to influence the lives of people affected by domestic abuse

Diana Fologea, Part time PhD student in Criminology

Diana Fologea is studying a part-time Criminology PhD on the theme of domestic abuse.

"I believe that research holds the power to directly and profoundly influence the lives of people affected by domestic abuse.

"My PhD research evaluates the Inspiring Families programme, a whole-family assessment for heterosexual couples with a history of domestic abuse. The aim is to provide an evidence base to support families affected by domestic abuse in the best possible way.

"Unlike the traditional approach which concentrates on the survivors and children, a whole-family approach to domestic abuse considers the entire family as a complex unit.

"It involves working with every family member, including those responsible for the abuse, and instead of alienating them from the family, it seeks to alter the dynamics so that the family can interact safely.

"This approach focuses on establishing lasting positive changes and recognises that it might not always be best for a child if their parents separate.

"It also acknowledges that simply breaking the link between the abuser and the victim does not always address the long-term problems within the family.

"Most importantly, it believes that when everyone in the family gets support instead of isolating certain members - such as the perpetrators - the relationship between parents can improve, as can their parenting skills, especially the parenting skills of the one who caused harm. The improvement in parenting can last even if the relationship ends.

"Although milestones have been achieved in England and Wales in the last decade for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, there remains an abundance of untapped potential to prevent domestic abuse from happening but also to ensure that when it occurs, tailor-made support is readily accessible to every family member, helping them break free from the cycle of abuse.

"By conducting research into ‘how to best support’ families affected by domestic abuse, researchers, policymakers, and specialist organisations can work together to pave the way for the co-production of more effective interventions, policies, and support systems for those in need.

"Ultimately, this can enhance the well-being and safety of individuals and families, especially children, making a tangible and positive difference in their lives.

"Through studying Criminology, I have become keenly aware of the strong links between Adverse Childhood Experiences and of trauma generally on the health and well-being of children, and on the likelihood of their becoming involved in offending behaviour. So helping to reduce domestic abuse and its effects helps those involved to improve their own lives and can also help to strengthen their communities."

"Embarking on a PhD was not something I ever imagined. At school, I was bullied and considered slow and lazy, and this had a profound effect on my confidence. It was only when I came to USW that I was diagnosed with dyslexia.

"My experience here has been extraordinary. The University has been extremely supportive and it’s because of this that I have been able to progress from an undergraduate degree to postgraduate research.

"A PhD it is not just an academic pursuit but a profound journey of positive change and personal discovery.

"Although I am only in the second year of a part-time PhD, this journey has been enormously transformative in developing critical thinking as well as enhancing my skills in conducting research with sensitive cohorts such as survivors of domestic abuse and children.

"It fills me with deep sense of satisfaction that through my PhD research I have the potential to make a modest yet potentially meaningful contribution to improving the lives of domestic abuse survivors and their children in Wales and more widely, and this fuels my passion and commitment to continue this journey. I think my younger self would be very proud."

Diana's supervisory team is: Professor Kate Williams; Dr Joanna Roberts; Dr Sarah Wallace