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Abuse, trauma and health

The Abuse, Trauma and Health cluster advances the evidence base on care, support and interventions for survivors of different forms of abuse, working alongside those with expertise based on experience, practice and policymaking.

About the cluster

Our cluster strives to create high-quality research, visibility and impact in the field of mental health and recovery from interpersonal trauma, and achieve this through efficient, creative, compassionate research practices.

Core research areas

Our projects align to three pillars relevant to tackling sexual violence and abuse, domestic abuse and childhood sexual abuse:

(i) justice

(ii) health across the lifespan

(iii) equality

With previous awards from the National Institute for Health and Social Care, Economic and Social Research Council and European Commission, our transdisciplinary research involves collaborating with academic and non-academic partners in law and policing, medicine and nursing, arts and culture and in the statutory and voluntary sectors. We are keen to enable an environment that nurtures excellent research and postgraduate researcher.

The cluster hosts a vibrant group of PhD students working in areas as diverse as mindfulness after childhood sexual abuse; interventions for family and friends of survivors; new perspectives on risk and tackling sexual offences; and mental health (dual-harm experiences) among offenders. We are passionate about engaging with our stakeholders, in particular, survivors of abuse, to shape the direction of our research and add value across all of our work.

Project list


  • The NIHR-funded MESARCH project (2018-2023) evaluated Sexual Assault Referral Centres in England through several sub-studies including a cohort study following the health and wellbeing of survivors of sexual violence and abuse; a study of children and young survivors’ experiences; an economic evaluation; and two Cochrane Reviews.

  • Drawing on the experiences of criminal justice system (CJS) stakeholders, including complainants and families, police, Crown Prosecution Service, Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and the Judiciary, the JiCSAV project examined the impact of the pandemic on sexual offence cases and legal process and procedures, and made recommendations about new opportunities for tackling problems endemic in the CJS.

  • Coventry University is a partner on the Home Office funded (2022-2025) UpFront Survivors project, an original arts and community-led initiative to develop leadership, voice, visibility in survivor communities around the UK.

  • With funding from Coventry City of Culture and several collaborating local agencies and informed by the MESARCH project, the #WhatAreYouDoing campaign aims to enhance public understanding about abuse in young people’s relationships with a powerful; short film as its centrepiece.

Theme lead / Co-leads

Lorna O’Doherty

Lorna is a Professor of Trauma, Mental Health and Recovery, and leads a programme of research at Coventry University to tackle domestic and sexual violence and abuse. Her focus is about enhancing access and care for survivors of abuse in healthcare settings. She has led/collaborated on projects in justice, health inequalities and with arts and culture to promote voice and visibility among survivors. New publications include a Cochrane Review and meta-analysis of psychosocial interventions for survivors of sexual violence and abuse (2023).

Grace Carter

Grace is a Research Fellow with a background in Forensic Psychology and children’s experiences of domestic abuse. Her research focuses on the development/evaluation of interventions for children, young people and adults exposed to sexual violence and abuse. Grace was co-investigator on the NIHR-funded MESARCH project, and co-led a Cochrane Review/meta-synthesis of survivors’ experiences of accessing community and clinical interventions in the aftermath of abuse. Grace is currently undertaking a narrative study as part of Coventry University’s evaluation of UpFront Survivors.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023