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Positive reaction to Somerset study into the best way to prevent domestic abuse

Press release issued: 16 September 2020

A Somerset study into the most effective way to tackle domestic abuse has received a positive response from its first participants. Barnardo's in Somerset has been funded by the University of Bristol to deliver weekly groups to local men and improve safety for their partners, ex-partners and children.

REPROVIDE is a two-year University of Bristol research study which began in March and offers weekly sessions of education and support.  The first group of men have completed some of their sessions and are now encouraging others to step forward and take part.

One man said: "It helps to share the problems. I should've done something like this ten years ago." Another said: "You learn about yourself, confront yourself and your behaviour. You can be honest about how you've behaved and be supported to change."

Barnardo's is now keen to recruit more men from across the county for the second series of sessions, which begin next week.

The charity is looking for men who are aged 21 or over and who are worried that their own behaviour in relationships with women might be abusive.

Men can refer themselves, but the charity is also keen for GPs, social workers, health visitors, police officers and domestic abuse services to support men to get in touch with the ‘Reprovide’ team.

Michael Hammond, Barnardo's children’s services manager, said: "The REPROVIDE study tests the effectiveness of group behaviour change programmes to see if they really do help men to reduce violence and abuse in their relationships.

"The first group featured a mix of people from across the social spectrum. Attendees included men aged from their 20s to their 60s, from manual workers to professionals.

"It shows that domestic abuse can affect families of all kinds, and we know that problems can escalate during lockdowns when people are spending more time together and in very challenging circumstances, so this new study is very timely."

Abuse can include physically hurting or threatening to hurt a partner, intimidation, humiliation, name-calling, jealousy and control, as well as damaging property.

Men who are interested in taking part in the study will receive further information and then be invited to a meeting to assess their eligibility for the programme.  Following completion of a questionnaire, they will be allocated to one of two groups – a weekly evening group in Taunton or Shepton Mallet, or a 'control' group with no additional support.

The weekly groups will discuss conflict resolution, consequences, healthy relationships, gender-based beliefs and expectations, and values and aspirations.  Particular importance is attached to discussing the impact of abuse on partners but especially children, as this is often recognised as one of the key motivations for perpetrators to change their behaviour.

Michael added: "Both groups will be equally valuable in helping us to assess whether group domestic abuse prevention programmes can make a difference, and we can also signpost partners and ex-partners to other sources of support.

"This particular trial is focused on men abusing women but, if successful, we hope it will attract further funding for similar trials for other groups.

"Domestic abuse poisons thousands of childhoods every year and needs to stop."

Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Bristol and chief investigator of REPROVIDE, added: "Our trial is testing a programme that aims to help men who use abuse in their relationships change their behaviour, as well as supporting their partners or ex-partners with whom they are still in contact.

"Particularly in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a harsh light on the incidence and impact of domestic violence, this trial is even more important.

"We appreciate our close collaboration with Barnardo's in Somerset that is delivering the programme alongside the three other sites in the South West and South Wales."

 For further information on joining the programme or referring someone else, call 07870 376548, or visit

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care
The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching. Follow us on Twitter: @capcbristol

About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

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