About the project and who was involved
AVA is excited to launch the new resources from our recent ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ project. This pioneering project was the first of its kind in the UK to research the link between menopause and domestic abuse, and how women’s contact with GPs, for menopause-related symptoms could provide opportunities for disclosure and support.
Why did we do the project?
Research into domestic abuse and menopause in the UK is scarce. There is also very little evidence around the experiences of mid-life women experiencing domestic abuse in the UK. This is despite the fact that over a third (38%) of women killed by their partner or ex-partner are in the 36-55 age range (Femicide Census, 2018).
Our review of literature found a small number of international studies suggesting there is a link between menopause and domestic abuse. We also found evidence that women experiencing domestic abuse in mid and later life may face similar rates of domestic abuse but substantially more barriers to accessing specialist services than younger women.
Drawing on a literature review, peer-led research and a consultation with GPs, emerging findings indicate a two-way relationship between menopause and domestic abuse. Key insights include:
- Menopause impacts women’s relationships, especially with their intimate partner/s and family members.
- Domestic abuse impacts menopause symptoms; with negative symptoms or experiences compounding or obscuring one another.
- Women view menopause as a pivotal moment for making life changes, suggesting that menopause may be a key time when women are looking for support to escape domestic abuse.
- Women highlight a number of intersecting barriers in the way of adequate support in General Practice settings, including, but not limited to: short appointments; lack of routine enquiry; inadequate mental health support; negative experiences with male GPs; generic or unhelpful information on menopause; few/no onwards signposting to specialist support for either menopause or domestic abuse.
Our findings also suggest women experiencing both menopause and domestic abuse are likely to face significantly elevated health needs. A clear lack of specialist support or sensitive routine inquiry means menopause-related appointments are currently a missed opportunity for intervention.
With the advent of the new government Menopause Taskforce and increased media interest in menopause and its impact, we believe this is an important moment to raise awareness of domestic abuse survivors’ needs.
At AVA, we hope to continue exploring this area further, and raising awareness of the needs and experiences of survivors with experience of menopause, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss the project and its future.
See the ‘Briefing for General Practice’ document for policy and practice recommendations for General Practice. The advice and recommendations for General Practice staff and clinicians are informed by focus groups of women with experience of violence, abuse and menopause, with research and facilitation support from AVA peer researchers with their own lived experience.
See the ‘Early Findings’ document for information and recommendations on women’s experiences of accessing General Practice with menopause and domestic abuse related needs. This briefing brings together key findings from focus groups with women with experience of violence, abuse and menopause. This work was supported by two peer researchers with their own lived experience of domestic abuse and/or menopause.
See the ‘Literature Review’ for a review of the available research on women’s experiences of menopause and domestic abuse and mid-life survivors. This review focuses in particular on barriers to health-access for mid-life survivors.