Established in October 2009, the Centre for Gender and Violence supercedes and builds on the work and research of the Violence Against Women Research Group (VAWRG). Originally established as the activist-based Domestic Violence Research Group (DVRG) in 1990, its founder members were Gill Hague and Ellen Malos who conceived the original idea for the Group. Marianne Hester joined in 1994.
Developing out of the Women’s Liberation Movement, the DVRG had particularly close relationships with the Women’s Aid Federation of England whose National Office had recently been set up in Bristol. Basing itself on a gendered analysis of violence, the Group conducted wide-ranging high quality research, while still retaining an activist commitment to raising, wherever possible, the voices of abused women and their children.
Over the years, the DVRG expanded to work on all aspects of gender violence across a number of countries, and using a variety of research methods.
It was further expanded into the Violence Against Women Research Group in 2004 when Marianne Hester brought members of her research team from the University of Sunderland to Bristol.
The aim of the Centre is to conduct high quality research to inform policy, practice and action on gender-based violence. Underpinning this aim are the following principles.
The Centre offers a friendly and supportive environment in which to study and research. We have a thriving international postgraduate community with a wide range of interests. As well as regular meetings and formal seminars, staff and students meet regularly in a more informal setting to share research; to watch international films about the lives of women; to participate in local and national events; to support women’s non-governmental organisations; and to have fun in a supportive environment. By working and celebrating together the group aims to support members in what can be a difficult area of work.
The VAWRG is an invaluable resource for us. I cannot overstate the usefulness of research which focuses on producing information which can be utilised within a practical context. There are no 'ivory towers' here - on numerous occasions I have used the work of the VAWRG to 'make the case' for resources - and service designs - that make a very real difference to the lives of abused women and children. The bridges you have built between academia and activism are a model which should inspire many more people.
The links to practice and activism are especially important to me - this group really is committed to undertaking research that matters and to making a difference for women and children locally, nationally and globally. I am proud to be a part of that.
Why am I talking to you? Because I thought ... for one, I thought, well, someone's listening to me. And if it's going to help somebody else, why not? Because it helps people. I mean, it's not just in the refuge, it’s a few years down the line.
Being part of the VAWRG makes it possible to do work which can be traumatic. I feel supported and encouraged by some fantastic women to do work which makes a difference.