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Connect Centre for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm

In the Connect Research Centre, we do research to influence change and to prevent and reduce all forms of sexual, gender-based and interpersonal violence against adults, children and young people. We are called ‘Connect’ because we are making connections between: 

  • Responding to overlapping forms of violence and violence experienced at different stages of life, such as gendered violence to adults and violence, abuse and neglect of children
  • How we understand and respond to violence across different areas of knowledge and practice, such as social work, criminal justice, health, education, the voluntary sector
  • Understanding and preventing violence across different relationships, countries, settings, communities, cultural and political contexts
  • Research, policy and practice


Our research is policy and practice focused and often collaborative, working with other researchers and organisations both in the UK and internationally. We also provide a specialist environment for PhD and postgraduate research training; consultancy; a forum and opportunities for cross disciplinary and international networking, debate and collective influencing through the Connect Members Network; and support activities for knowledge exchange and the use of research to influence change. 

  • Child protection
  • Domestic violence and abuse
  • Forced marriage
  • Gendered violence
  • Ethnicity, citizenship and violence
  • Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse
  • Trafficking
  • Polyvictimisation
  • Suicide and self harm
  • Cross national/international perspectives
  • Perpetrators
  • Violent children
  • Violence prevention
  • Prevalence and impact of victimisation
  • Children’s participation
  • Multi-agency working
  • New technologies
  • Abuse in young people’s intimate partner relationships
  • Child advocacy
  • Domestic abuse and adult safeguarding

Email to join our mailing list and find out about upcoming seminars.

Email to join our mailing list and find out about upcoming seminars.

UCLan-led research confirms the vital role played by the NSPCC’s ‘Speak Out Stay Safe’ campaign.

A new national evaluation of the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe (SOSS) programme, involving 3,297 primary school children across the UK, has found that both children and school staff benefited from the education it provided on different forms of harm, highlighting the need for continued education in this area. The evaluation was led by Professor Nicky Stanley, Co-Director of the Connect Centre, in partnership with researchers at Bangor University, University of Edinburgh, University of Greenwich and Queen’s University Belfast.

Read the full evaluation report.

Roadmap Evaluation report published

The Connect Centre, UCLan, has published the evaluation of the Roadmap Programme, an innovation initiative for survivors of domestic violence and abuse. The results of the four-year evaluation led by Professor Nicky Stanley, Co-Director of the Connect Centre, in partnership with Bangor University, the University of East London and Manchester Metropolitan University, reveal the need for flexible domestic violence and abuse services that are more tailored and responsive to the changing needs of survivors and their children.

The report is published by Women’s Aid and SafeLives, two charities that collaborated with survivors of domestic abuse over a period of five years to develop and deliver the Roadmap Programme across England.

Read the full report and executive summary.

House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in Schools

Dr Christine Barter was invited to act as specialist adviser to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in Schools. The STIR research (Barter et al 2017) was referenced five times in the Committee’s report which recommended that Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) be made statutory and the Government made an announcement to this effect in 2017, so extending SRE to children in all primary and secondary schools in England and Wales. Dr Barter and Prof Stanley advised on the drafting of a Parliamentary Briefing Paper that informed debates in both Houses of Parliament on this issue and guidance on SRE.

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) (chaired by Baroness Jay)

Members of the Connect Centre (Lorraine Radford, Nicky Stanley, Christine Barter and Helen Richardson-Foster) presented research at the England Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearing on 12 April 2017. This was the first research evidence presented to the Inquiry and it will inform its ongoing work.

Read more and view the report summary report, slides and videos of evidence presented.: IICSA ‘s work concludes in 2021. The Connect Centre also presented research evidence (on institutional abuse) to the Scottish Inquiry into Child Abuse in June 2017. 

If you want to join our Connect Network contact for further details. Membership is free and open to all who share our values and interests in doing and using research to end interpersonal violence

Connect welcomes applications for researchers in the UK and overseas interested in postgraduate study for MPhil or PhDs in the area of interpersonal violence. To talk informally about the benefits of PhD study at Connect contact Professor Nicky Stanley

  • Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)
  • European Child Safety Network (ECSA)
  • Psytel, Paris France
  • Public Health Agency of Catalonia, Spain
  • Welsh Government, Maternal and Child Health
  • ChildLine, Lithuania
  • Sigmund Freud Mental Health Hospital, Austria
  • Norwegian Centre for Violence and Child Protection
  • UNICEF child protection Unit, New York
  • McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Current projects

2018-2020: TESSE National Evaluation of Speak Out. Stay Safe (NSPCC)

Nicky Stanley (PI), Christine Barter, Nicola Farrelly, Farwa Batool and colleagues at Queens University Belfast, University of Edinburgh, University of Greenwich and Bangor University.

Professor Nicky Stanley, led the evaluation of the NSPCC’s Speak Out Stay Safe (SOSS) programme, which sought to understand the benefits of and need for further investment in education around types of abuse and harm. The SOSS programme is designed by the NSPCC and delivered to children aged 5-11 in schools across the UK. Delivered by trained staff and volunteers, the programme aims to increase children’s understanding of different forms of harm and abuse and enable them to seek help from a trusted adult.

The UK-wide evaluation, involving 3,297 primary school children from across the UK, explored how children’s knowledge, understanding and recognition of abuse, neglect and bullying was impacted by taking part in the SOSS assemblies and workshops. It found that both children and school staff benefited from the education the programme provided on different forms of harm, highlighting the need for continued education in this area. Teachers were also able to respond more effectively to children who asked for support following the programme. The findings show the importance of ongoing education targeted at boys.

Read the full evaluation report.

2020-2022: DAHLIA-19: Domestic Abuse Harnessing Learning Internationally under Covid-19.
An international research study exploring domestic abuse policy and practice for survivors, children and perpetrators during the Covid-19 pandemic. The research is being undertaken in four countries: the UK, Australia, Ireland and South Africa and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Nicky Stanley (PI), Christine Barter, Helen Richardson Foster, Sarah Shorrock, Lorraine Radford and colleagues from University of Edinburgh, University of the Witwatersrand, Trinity College Dublin and University of Melbourne

2018-2021: Evaluation of Women’s Aid and Safe Lives Shared Roadmap for System Change. Evaluation of several Women’s Aid and SafeLives early intervention responses. Funded by Big Lottery. Nicky Stanley (PI), Christine Barter, Helen Richardson Foster and Kelly Bracewell, with with colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University, University of East London and Bangor University.

Read the full report and executive summary.

2018-2020: TESSE National Evaluation of Speak Out. Stay Safe (NSPCC)
Nicky Stanley (PI), Christine Barter, Nicola Farrelly, Farwa Batool and colleagues at Queens University Belfast, University of Edinburgh, University of Greenwich and Bangor University.

Professor Nicky Stanley and colleagues in the Connect Centre have been commissioned by the NSPCC to undertake the TESSE study, an independent evaluation of their Speak out. Stay safe abuse prevention programme for primary schools. The UK-wide evaluation will explore how children’s knowledge, understanding and recognition of abuse, neglect and bullying changes after they have taken part in the Speak out Stay safe assemblies and workshops. It will also investigate whether Speak out. Stay safe improves children’s knowledge of who they can speak out to and whether the programme increases children's readiness to seek help if they or their friends experience abuse or neglect. Approximately 4,000 children will be involved in the impact evaluation from across 90 UK primary schools. A process evaluation is exploring how Speak out Stay safe works and what helps and hinders successful delivery. An economic evaluation will assess wider costs and outcomes associated with Speak out Stay safe from a societal perspective. For more information, please see the NSPCC Learning website.

2019- 2022: ES/005471/1 Domestic Homicides: Journeys of victims, families and agencies – using an Experience Based Co-design
The study will address important gaps in existing knowledge of domestic homicide and aims to learn from the journeys and experiences of families who have lost a relative to domestic homicide, victims/survivors of domestic abuse; statutory and voluntary domestic homicide reviews (DHRs). Funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council, Kelly Bracewell, with PI Khatidja Chantler and colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University.

2018-2021: Determinants and health sequelae of intimate partner violence and abuse in young adult relationships: a mixed methods study (MRC/ESRC) Christine Barter with University of Bristol

2016-2022: IMPACTS: Collaborations to address sexual violence on campus funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
The overarching goal of this project is to unearth, dismantle and prevent sexual violence within universities, through evidence-based research that will inform sustainable curriculum and policy change. This SSHRC Partnership Project is the first of its kind to address, dismantle and prevent sexual violence by means of a systemic partnered solution in the fields of education, law, policy, arts, popular culture, news and social media (PI: Shaheen Shariff, McGill with Christine Barter)

Previous projects

2019-2020: Evaluation of the Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service Kelly Bracewell, Paul Hargreaves & Christine Barter

2018-2019: Stopping the Cycle of Youth Violence: Pilot Evaluation. Funded by The Premier League. Christine Barter (PI), Kelly Bracewell and Paul Hargreaves

2018 - 2019: Piloting the Bystander Intervention to address domestic and sexual violence on campus in three schools: Social Work, Sports and Medicine. Process evaluation of the intervention to investigate whether the intervention is effective. Khatidja Chantler and Kelly Bracewell.

2015-2019: Evaluation of Healthy Relationships, Healthy Babies. Evaluation of an initiative in two local authorities that aims to intervene early in the lives of young families experiencing domestic abuse. The evaluation is funded by the Stefanou Foundation. Nicky Stanley with Trevillion & colleagues, King’s College London. Evaluation report

2018-2019: Early Childhood and the ‘Intergenerational Cycle of Domestic Violence’ Research Review Rapid evidence review on domestic violence and the potential for this to impact on children's own violent behaviour, and any evidence of effectiveness of targeted interventions aimed at young families. NSPCC. Lorraine Radford, Helen Richardson Foster, Paul Hargreaves with John Devaney (University of Edinburgh) Radford, L., Richardson Foster, H. Hargreaves, P & Devaney, J. (2019) Research Review: Early Childhood and the ‘Intergenerational Cycle of Domestic Violence’. Technical Report. NSPCC, London.

2016-2019 Liberty Centre: Independent evaluation of a domestic violence service for standard risk and male victims. Big Lottery. Christine Barter (PI) and Rachel Robbins

2018 – 2020: Independent Evaluation of Lancashire Victim Services and Victim Code Rachel Robbins

2018: Scoping Study: Violence against Women and Girls Services, Comic Relief
The overall aim of the scoping review was to examine ways in which funding approaches and service provision for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in England and Wales could be improved. Barter, C.A., Bracewell, K., Stanley, N., & Chantler, K. (2018) Scoping Study: Violence Against Women and Girls Services. Project Report. Preston, Lancashire. View Summary.

2017-2018: Pilot Randomised Trial of Project Respect: A school-based intervention to prevent dating and relationship violence and address health inequalities among young people
A multi-centre project to pilot the Safe Dates and Shifting Boundaries (sexual harassment) prevention programmes in the UK. National Institute for Health Research PHR. Christine Barter (co-applicant) with PI Prof Chris Bonell (The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

2014-2018: Step Up - Building the evidence base for early intervention responses for children, ESRC & Early Intervention Foundation
Creating, implementing and evaluating an evidence based early intervention response for children and families in Blackpool living with domestic abuse. Funded by the ESRC under the Early Intervention research programme. Lorraine Radford (PI), Nicky Stanley, Rachel Robbins, Paul Hargreaves and Emily Yeend.

2017: Pause
Evaluation of Hackney Council’s project to prevent repeat pregnancy and removal of babies into care. Lorraine Radford with OpCit

2015-2017: Child Sexual Abuse Knowledge Hub
Developing a research and practice knowledge exchange hub for the police working in a multi-agency context to safeguard children from sexual exploitation. UCLan is the North of England knowledge hub coordinator, Lorraine Radford with colleagues from the University of Bedfordshire, University of Sussex, Cardiff University and University of Worcester

2014-17: Fathering Challenges, Australian Research Council
This Australian study is examining interventions for perpetrators of domestic abuse who are also fathers. Nicky Stanley with Cathy Humphreys (PI) Kelsey Hegarty and colleagues, University of Melbourne, Curtin University and University of South Australia.

2016: Preventing and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Other Jurisdictions, a Rapid Evidence Assessment for the Independent Commission on Child Sexual Abuse. Rapid evidence assessment of what can be learned from other jurisdictions about effective prevention and responses to child sexual abuse and exploitation. Lorraine Radford (PI, Nicky Stanley, Christine Barter and Helen Richardson Foster, funded by the Crown Office.

2016: Prevalence and Impact of Abuse of Children in Residential Care in Scotland
Evidence review for the Scotland Inquiry into Child Abuse. Lorraine Radford (PI), Christine Barter, Nicky Stanley and Rachel Robbins.

2015-2016: Understanding Forced Marriage in Scotland
A mixed methods, national study in Scotland addressing the reported levels of forced marriage, service responses to forced marriage (including use of civil and criminal legislation) and the impact of forced marriage on survivors. PI: Chantler with McCarry (Strathclyde University); MacKenzie (University of Glasgow); Mirza; Baker (UCLan), Partners: Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid; Shakti Women’s Aid and Scottish Women’s Aid.

2016: Springboard Evaluation, South Lakes
This evaluation of a local domestic abuse service includes interviews with stakeholders and service users and focus group with young people. Rachel Robbins

2016: Evaluation of Doncaster Children’s Trust Growing Futures Initiative
This evaluation of Doncaster’s innovative approach to work with families living with domestic abuse is funded by the Department for Education. Nicky Stanley with OpCit.

2012-16: Optimising identification, referral and care of trafficked people within the NHS (PROTECT), Policy Research Programme DH, Stanley with Howard, Zimmerman et al, King’s College London and London Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Oram et al (2016) Provider Responses Treatment and Care for Trafficked People

2013-2015: PIECES Project – Investigating national policies to address child violence to identify good practices across the EU
Daphne funded research involving a detailed and innovative review of select national level policies in place in EU countries that aim to reduce inter personal and family violence by and violence towards children and young people Partners from Romania, Lithuania, France, Austria and Spain contributing.(Radford)

2013-15: Public Health Research Programme, NIHR, Preventing Domestic Abuse for Children (PEACH)
This scoping study brought together international evidence on preventive interventions in domestic abuse for children and young people under 18 in the general population. These preventive interventions include programmes delivered in school, and media and community campaigns and initiatives specifically targeting children and young people. The study includes a systematic literature review, a mapping study of current provision in the UK and consultation with experts, policy makers, practitioners and young people.

2013-15: IMPROVE
An overview of interventions aimed at improving outcomes for children exposed to domestic violence: systematic review, evidence synthesis and research recommendations
, Public Health Research Programme, NIHR, Stanley with Feder et al, University of Bristol.

2013-15: Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships (STIR)
EU Daphne Programme, Barter, Stanley and Larkins and four European partners. Barter, C., Stanley, N., Wood, M., Aghtaie, N., Larkins, C., Øverlien, C., et al (2015). Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships (STIR): Connecting online and offline contexts and risks.

2012-14: Bridging the knowledge and practice gap between domestic violence and child safeguarding in General Practice (RESPONDS), Policy Research Programme, DH, Stanley and Larkins with Feder et al, University of Bristol. Szilassy, E., Dass, J., Drinkwater, J., Firth, A., Hester, M., Larkins, C., Lewis, N., Morrish, J., Stanley, N., Turner, W. and Feder, G. (2015) Researching Education to Strengthen Primary care ON Domestic violence & Safeguarding (RESPONDS). Bristol: University of Bristol. Final report is available via University of Bristol

2011-2014: Evaluation of children’s independent domestic violence advocacy service. Qualitative study to determine the impact of children's advocacy intervention across several outcome measures. (Westwood, Larkin, Stanley).

An Evaluation of the Sex and Relationship Educational Curriculum Tool: Sex and Stuff
A mixed method school-based evaluation of a PSHE resource. Bristol Public Health Authority, Christine Barter (PI) with Marsha Wood (University of Bristol).

2013: Developing programme guidance to address sexual exploitation and abuse of children in development and emergency contexts
Desk based consultancy research to produce guidance for UNICEF on protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation and abuse (Radford)


PhD Students:

  • Victoria Baker - Child to Parent Violence
  • Lynda Shentall - Domestic Violence and HIV
  • Rachel Close - Trauma-Informed Practice with DVA Survivors
  • Althea Cribb - Engagement of survivors in domestic violence services
  • Maria Turda - Sex Trafficking Between Romania and the UK
  • Jessica Wagner -The Cycle of Domestic Abuse