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An exploration of Polish women’s experiences of migration and support for domestic violence and abuse in the UK

Blada-Edgeley, Alicija (2016) An exploration of Polish women’s experiences of migration and support for domestic violence and abuse in the UK. Masters thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is still a highly prevalent crime affecting millions of lives each year. DVA impacts upon whole families, yet women worldwide are recorded as the most prevalent victims in DVA incidents. Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups have been examined in relation to DVA however, there is rather limited research around Polish women and their experiences of migration and support for DVA in the United Kingdom (UK). This research investigates Polish women’s experiences of migration and support for DVA and looks at the impact of migration on their experiences through the thematic analysis of five interviews. All five women had been offered support from the domestic abuse organisations, health and children’s social care services. A symbolic interactionist framework was employed to explore the impact of migration on the women’s lives and the experiences of support they received, because it focuses on human interactions and the understanding people attach to those interactions. The study findings indicate that all participants received similar levels of support from a variety of organisations in the UK. However, the women’s experiences were of two distinct narratives: positive and negative outcomes of received support. Three women’s stories were characterised by positive messages including expression of their gratitude and appreciation of received support from services, which enabled them to become empowered and make desirable changes to their lives. The other two participants voiced their negative views regarding their lives and experiences of prejudice and discrimination. These women remained dis-empowered after social interventions, and thus remained negative about their current lives, but made no positive changes in order to alter their circumstances. The Polish women’s responses to DVA varied depending on their perceptions of support available to them and how the impact of migration on their individual lives was differing. Importantly, although experiences may be shared across accounts, the perception of these experiences is noticeably different for each participant. This suggests that the way in which women interpret their experiences of the impact of the migration process on their lives and accessibility of support for DVA is central to understanding the outcomes. The research illustrates that the key factors are personal interpretation and perception rather than any factor linked to their personal identity as a Polish woman or to the level of support offered.

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