Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.


Children are hidden victims of domestic violence and abuse, which causes long term damage to their mental health, wellbeing, education and even future employment. GPs often see children with behavioural problems, anxiety and physical symptoms without an obvious cause. Sometimes these are caused by exposure to domestic violence and abuse in their family. In the NIHR-funded IRIS+ study, we are training GPs and other health care professionals in primary care to recognise children who are exposed to domestic violence and abuse and to refer for support by Next Link, a specialist domestic violence and abuse agency.”

- Prof Gene Feder

Ground breaking research conducted by Professor Gene Feder and researchers at the University of Bristol are investigated the experiences and needs of children affected by domestic violence and abuse. Domestic violence and abuse is devastating and impacts the whole family, not just the person who is the focus of the abuse. But children can often be hidden victims or fail to get appropriate support. Research shows that only half of children affected by domestic violence and abuse are known to social services and only 42 per cent receive support from a specialist abuse service.

Previous NIHR research has revealed the lack of evidence on how best to support children in these situations. NIHR teams from Bristol and Exeter are working on studies that will shed light on this often overlooked issue, which can affect children for the rest of their lives.

One approach being explored to support children who have experienced domestic abuse and family breakdown is Family Vision. It’s a 10-week life coaching programme for lone parents or carers, designed to empower them to be the leader of their family and improve their relationship with their child. Researchers from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South West Peninsula and the University of Exeter worked with Get Up and Grow Coaching to develop the programme. Read the full press release from the University of Bristol.

Watch the ITV clip on YouTube:

Both Gene Feder and Alison Gregory have received seperate funding awards from the School which helped to inform the current research and support interventions.The VOICES study (ViOlence: Impact on Children Evidence Synthesis), is an investigation to find out what the impact of exposure to domestic violence is on children and the implications for a primary care response. More about the programme of domestic violence and abuse at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol.

During Alison Gregory's SPCR Launching Fellowship, she conducted a pilot study of proactive support for the social network of domestic violence survivors. Her doctorate, also SPCR funded, looked at  the health and wellbeing impacts on people providing informal support to survivors of domestic violence and abuse. She writes about the support she has received from the School here.

The impact on children of exposure to domestic violence and the implications for a primary care response: a systematic review and secondary analysis of qualitative evidence Gene was interview on ITV last night.