In this session, Vanessa Munro will present key findings from a study that she conducted with REFUGE in which more than 3,500 client case files were analysed to identify the prevalence of suicidality reported by survivors of domestic abuse in England and Wales, and to explore the ways in which clients’ interactions with support services and state agencies (including health, housing, and criminal justice) might exacerbate as well as alleviate the experiences of depression, hopelessness and isolation associated with that suicidality. In a context in which the criminal law has only relatively recently overcome its historical reluctance to recognise psychological forms of harm as meriting sanction, this study not only underscores the lasting and significant impacts of non-physical forms of intimate partner abuse, but raises vital questions about the potential liability of perpetrators for acts of self-harm, including at their most extreme of suicide, undertaken by victims as a result of experiencing psychological abuse.’
Vanessa Munro is a Professor of Law at the University of Warwick. She has worked for over 2 decades on interrogating law and policy responses to violence against women from a feminist perspective. In particular, she has conducted a number of studies exploring (mock) jurors’ attitudes in rape trials, a comparative project exploring responses to sex trafficking across 5 countries, and a study exploring decision-making in respect of claims of rape and sexual violence made in the asylum process. She became involved in the study on domestic abuse and suicidality with REFUGE as a result of a re-writing of R v Dhaliwal as part of the Feminist Judgments Project for England and Wales in 2010; and in 2019, she co-edited the Scottish Feminist Judgments project where she also co-wrote a judgment exploring themes of agency and duress in the context of intimate partner abuse.