Personal profile

Personal profile

Janet C. Bowstead is a feminist academic with a professional background of over 30 years in frontline, policy and coordination work on violence against women and domestic violence issues.  Her research is interdisciplinary in nature, across geography, social policy and sociology; integrating quantitative, spatial, qualitative and creative methods.

She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ESRC-funded project “Secondary analysis of data collected over a 20 year period by HM Inspectorate of Prisons”. Further details available at:

Her British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship project (2016-2021) was on “Women on the move: the journeyscapes of domestic violence” based at the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. The research explores domestic violence from the angle of ‘women on the move’ and introduces the concept of the possibility of a functional scale for these journeys – “journeyscapes” – whereby women and children travel as far as they need to escape the abuse, but are not forced further than necessary due to constraints of administrative boundaries or service provision.

The research builds on her distinctive approach of integrating individual and national scale data and analysis; and on her conceptualisation of women’s domestic violence journeys as a forced migration process within the UK.  It investigates the geography of the journeys at a range of scales – exploring the significance of space and place – and hears from women themselves about how these journeys, though initially forced, might be part of a practical and potentially positive strategy for safety, autonomy and the remaking of home.  Conceptually and empirically, the research project therefore aims to develop a multi-scaled understanding of both the processes of women’s domestic violence journeys, and their implications.  It focuses on the regional scale – between local and national – which had yet to be explored; and it enables a much deeper conceptualisation of the journeys drawing on the experiences of women on the move and current scholarship on violence and on mobility.

Further details on the website:

Her PhD was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and drew on theory, concepts and analysis techniques from migration research and applied them to the internal migration journeys of women within the UK escaping domestic violence.  It included the first geographical mapping of domestic violence journeys across England and the innovative theorisation of this being forced migration, creating Internally Displaced Persons in the United Kingdom.  In addition to article publications in high-ranking Geography and Social Policy journals, the research has had significant media coverage including several local radio broadcasts, and national newspapers such as the Daily Mail, and the front page of The Independent.  Women’s Aid (England), which supports a network of around 300 local domestic violence services, has used the findings from the research in its campaigning for refuge provision, and in briefings to the Government.

As well as academic research, Janet has considerable research experience outside academia as a consultant and as a local government officer, for example carrying out an early local study on mental health and domestic violence.  Research outside academia includes service and impact evaluations, such as for a community domestic violence service (Safe As Houses), and for an international programme on women’s leadership and culturally-justified violence against women (Women Living Under Muslim Laws).  A particular focus is on more effective use of administrative and monitoring data for policy and practice insights; and on writing accessibly for policy and practice audiences.

Research interests

My research is interdisciplinary in nature, across geography, social policy, criminology and sociology; integrating quantitative, spatial, qualitative and creative methods. A particular focus is on more effective use of administrative and monitoring data for policy and practice insights; and on participatory and creative research for policy and practice audiences.

Presentations include:

Bowstead JC. 2022. What are women's refuges/shelters for?

9 June 2022

European Network on Gender and Violence, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bowstead JC. 2022. How Part 4 of the Domestic Abuse Act is designed not to meet women's service needs

15 March 2022

Institute for Social Justice & Crime (ISJ&C) and Domestic Abuse Research Network (DARNet), University of Suffolk (online)

Bowstead JC. 2021. Risks and Needs: What professionals need to know about 3 strategies of women’s domestic violence help-seeking

15 September 2021

European Conference on Domestic Violence, Ljubljana, Slovenia (online)

Bowstead JC. 2021. Transport Yourself to a Better Place

8th - 9th July 2021

Im|mobile lives in turbulent times: Methods and Practices of Mobilities Research (online)

Im|mobile Lives in Turbulent Times Exhibition

Bowstead JC. 2021. Women and Children on the Move: The Journeyscapes of Domestic Violence

15 July 2021

Making Research Count, University of Bedfordshire (online)

Bowstead JC. 2021. What about the men?

10 June 2021

Interpersonal Violence Interventions - Social and Cultural Perspectives, University of Jyväskylä, Finland (online)

Bowstead JC. 2021. Get yourself free: women’s journeys to remake their futures after domestic abuse

14 April 2021

BSA 70th Anniversary Virtual Annual Conference - Remaking the Future

Bowstead JC. 2020. Forced Migration in the United Kingdom: Women’s Journeys to Escape Domestic Violence

19 February 2020

Refugee Studies Centre, public seminar series, Oxford University, Department of International Development

Bowstead JC. 2019. Fast and slow thinking in trying to make a difference

10 December 2019

Social Research Association Annual Conference 2019, Royal College of Physicians, London

Bowstead JC. 2017. Changing journeys into journeyscapes: enhancing women’s control over their domestic violence mobility

10 October 2017

Mobile and Temporary Domesticities, Centre for the Study of Home, Museum of the Home, London

Bowstead JC. 2009. Mapping the forced migration of women fleeing domestic violence

1 June 2009

Mapping Dangerous Spaces postgraduate symposium, British Library, London.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions