Dr Emma Fulu with fellow colleagues at the WHO expert group meeting on emotional/psychological violence

Dr Emma Fulu with fellow colleagues at the WHO expert group meeting on emotional/psychological violence

At the end of June, the Director of the Equality Institute, Dr Emma Fulu, travelled to Europe to attend a series of meetings for two very exciting projects she is advising on. 



The first meeting took place at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. This was the Expert Meeting for the development of a consensus on the measurement of emotional/psychological intimate partner violence against women, organised by the Adolescents and at-risk Populations Team in the Department of Reproductive Health and Research.  Dr Fulu served here as a Temporary Adviser, working with around 20 other experts from around the world.

Whereas there is a general consensus on how to measure exposures to physical and sexual intimate partner violence through quantitative surveys, and how this type of violence is defined, this is not the case for emotional/psychological partner violence. Currently, emotional/psychological abuse is measured in different ways with different cut-offs for defining prevalence, making it difficult to compare rates of violence across settings or to develop a combined prevalence of physical, sexual and/or emotional partner violence. There is also a lack of consensus as to whether controlling behaviour should be understood as an essential element of intimate partner violence and incorporated into a measure of emotional/psychological abuse, or whether it should be measured separately and considered a risk factor for partner violence. 

The objectives of the meeting were to identify the key domains of emotional/psychological partner violence; discuss and agree whether controlling behaviour should be integrated into a measure of emotional/psychological abuse or should remain a separate measure; identify the specific questions to operationalise emotional/psychological partner violence; and agree on how to analyse the data on emotional/psychological abuse for use by countries.

Having a standard way of measuring emotional/psychological abuse and being able to compare rates of violence across settings is particularly topical given that target 5.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly is to “Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.”

The report of the meeting outcomes will be used to raise the profile and understanding of emotional/psychological partner violence and its negative impacts, as well as the basis for advocating for a standardised measure of emotional/psychological partner violence in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.  



In the second meeting, Dr Fulu took her place at the Women, War Trauma, and Peacebuilding Advisory Board at Uppsala University in Sweden. Along with Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (South Africa), Dr Henrik Urdal (Norway) and Professor Peter Wallensteen (Sweden), Dr Fulu will be part of The Swedish Research Council’s project until 2018.

Led by Dr Karen Brounéus, and co-researcher Dr Erika Forsberg, the Project aims to study the complex and possibly gendered links between war trauma, psychological health and attitudes towards peace, to better understand the challenges women and men face in the aftermath of war. Until now, the process of post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation has commonly been gender-blind. The project proposes that this process actually has deep and complex challenges for women due to the types of violence they are often subjected to during war. For example, women experience sexual and/or gender-based violence more often than men, which may have a direct link to the prevalence of psychological health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. In turn, these unaddressed issues can present as barriers to post-conflict peacebuilding. The first country of study will be Sri Lanka, from where the project team recently returned from a planning visit with research partners at the University of Colombo. 

Dr Fulu is contributing her extensive expertise in the design and implementation of cross-national studies on men’s violence against women, and ensuring that research findings have an impact in influencing policies and practice on the ground. 

Working towards a consensus: experts discussing how to measure exposures to emotional/psychological abuse

Working towards a consensus: experts discussing how to measure exposures to emotional/psychological abuse