Post-pandemic insights into burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue in domestic abuse service workers in Hampshire

Exploring burnout and compassion fatigue in those supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Elizabeth Hitchings
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.

Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

Early open-source research has suggested job saturation in the field of domestic abuse service work. For example, research on Indeed highlighted that there were 32 jobs available in Hampshire for domestic violence service work. Of these, 18 were for ‘Stop Domestic Abuse’, which was poorly rated by previous workers with 2.1 stars, and suggestions of high staff turnover due to emotional impacts of the job and a lack of managerial support.

The following research aims to explore why such a gap has formed in this line of work with a large focus on the potential contributions of burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.

The research will draw upon the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in this field of work. For example, of interest is the impact of working remotely and national lockdowns on the emotional strains of the service workers.

Furthermore, the research will examine the impact of the increase in workload throughout the pandemic, which saw increased calls to domestic abuse services. 

The objectives of the research will be to reach conclusions for the main differences in motivations for individuals to stay or leave domestic service work. Consequently, the research will propose a set of policy suggestions based on the findings. The aim is to reduce and prevent the emotional impacts of the role and to help the individual feel more supported by their organisation. 

Research methodology

This research will begin with a literature review on current knowledge into the necessary areas of the research including burnout, vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and impacts of COVID-19 on the role of domestic abuse service workers. 

Secondly, qualitative research will be conducted in the form of interviews with senior domestic abuse service workers in Hampshire. These participants will be targeted through the following domestic abuse services:

  • Stop Domestic Abuse
  • The Hampton Trust
  • Yellow Door
  • The You Trust

Research participation

The researcher would like to be contacted by anybody working for any of the aforementioned organisations who would like to be interviewed as part of this research project. Please email [email protected]

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