“I faced so many barriers”: Access to support for deaf female survivors of domestic violence in the UK

Jemina Napier*, Lucy Clark, Lorraine Leeson, Lianne Quigley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This article examines the potential vulnerability of deaf female British Sign Language (BSL) signers who experience domestic violence (DV) in reporting DV and accessing information and communication support. Based on online semi-structured interviews with eight deaf women in the UK, their perceptions of the factors that contribute to creating barriers in gaining adequate access and support are discussed. We present findings that concentrate around seven key barriers identified by the interviewees including: (i) access to interpreting; (ii) lack of information in BSL; (iii) lack of deaf cultural awareness; (iv) needs for on-going support; (v) deaf-specific services; (vi) training/education needs; and (vii) recognition of diversity. In considering deaf women’s reporting of DV incidences through an intersectional lens, it is clear that they experience a double, or even triple or quadruple disadvantage. We found that, despite professional interpreting services being widely available in the UK, structural barriers still exist for deaf women in gaining access to support for DV, and that barriers are created through inaccessible services, inaccessible information, and lack of awareness of the needs of deaf women in this context. These barriers can be mitigated through training and resources for sign language interpreters, police officers, and other support service providers. We conclude with suggestions for how this research can be applied to interpreting for female DV survivors in other minority communities as well as deaf communities, with suggestions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97–141
Number of pages45
JournalJust. Journal of Language Rights and Minorities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2024


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