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A few minutes with Margareta Hydén ...

... conducts research on domestic abuse and is one of the professors at the newly formed department: Social Work.

Your research predominately addresses men's violence against women and focuses on the significance of a network when abuse occurs within intimate relationships. Describe the network?

For those involved, family, relatives, friends, neighbours or fellow workers could cause the abuse. Previous research, including my own, has assumed that the violence was concealed and that the woman was isolated. However this is not so. There is almost always one or more of their inner circle aware of the abuse. How they react to violence bears enormous significance.

In what way?

In the most favourable cases, these networks take charge of the situation, noting, "It shouldn’t be like this". They distance themselves from the violence and from the man that perpetrates the violence. They can, in turn, engage and influence the social services and other authorities.
The most constructive method is when the brothers or friends of the man perpetrating the violence react strongly. A less constructive method is when networks do not come to terms with what they know, but ignore the event, distance themselves and feel ashamed of what is happening. For example, they do not think the violence is consistent with the image of their relative or family member. The networks may also be important for those cases when the woman ends the relationship.

You have identified 45 women's networks. 15 live urban environments, 15 in towns and 15 in rural environments. Have you noted any disparities?

Yes, the difference between urban and rural areas is considerable.
In rural areas most people know one another and therefore one could assume that care for one another is more prevalent, compared to the urban or larger cities city where "nobody cares". But this is a simplified approach. In a rural environment, people are often more adverse to offending one another. For example, if an abusive man is a member of a local hunting team, then it could create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the team if one of the members reacts against the abusive man.
For the assaulted woman, the situation becomes even more agonizing because "everybody knows" but no one intervenes. Consequently, rural women become even more isolated with their abusive situation and, in turn, the man receives a perceived acceptance of the violence since no one intervenes.

Are your findings being used regarding the networks’ importance during practical social work?

Yes, we cooperate with the region of Västra Götaland who use the network in their work on domestic violence. They retain a method of social work in which they assemble the abused woman's network, illustrate the problems for them and then systematically attempt to harness their energy into support and action. It is fantastic to see my research directly applied to a practical example.
Yes, the Västra Götaland authorities have used my research to develop a program on domestic violence. It is designed for women, men and children. With my research as a departure point, the Västra Götaland region will also discuss how to develop methods to mobilize networks during their work.

It is fantastic to see the research used in this way.

You also set up an international research network related to domestic violence.

Yes, starting 2010, we established a network with researchers from countries such as Canada, South Africa, Great Britain and India. We will meet for the first time at Linköping University, 23-25 May. A similar network study completed here in Sweden will also be undertaken in South Africa where domestic violence is widespread.

You are a professor in the Department of Social Work, established at LiU at the end of 2010. Which issues will you address?

I hope we can concentrate on three main areas.

  • Research method issues are something I want to pursue, such as how to approach people in an ethical manner for sensitive issues.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Incorporating a global perspective to our research. We require more international exchange and knowledge.

    For more info on the research see here 
    For more info on Margareta Hydén see here 

Eva Bergstedt 2011-05-23

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Last updated: 2017-02-13