Dr Janet Bowstead

Personal profile

Janet 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.

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 Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

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

I am currently (2016-2020) a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Project title: Women on the move: the journeyscapes of domestic violence.

My research continues to explore 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 my distinctive approach of integrating individual and national scale data and analysis; and on my 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 will hear 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 has 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: www.womensjourneyscapes.net


Presentations include:

Bowstead JC. 2016. Women on the move: theorising domestic violence journeys1st International Conference on Geographies of Migration and Mobilities (iMigMob), Loughborough University.  19 July 2016


Bowstead JC. 2015. Why women’s domestic violence refuges are not local services European Conference on Domestic Violence, Queen’s University, Belfast.  8 September 2015


Bowstead JC. 2015. Making and re-making home in response to domestic violenceHistories of Home – Homes Under Pressure, Geffrye Museum, London.  31 March 2015


Bowstead JC. 2014.  Evidence to inquiry on ‘Changing Landscape of Domestic and Sexual Violence Services’ All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Houses of Parliament, London.  18 November 2014


Bowstead JC. 2014. The patterns and distances of domestic violence journeys by women of different ethnic origins to access services in England British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference, University of Winchester.  9 September 2014


Bowstead JC. 2014. Individual exile and imagined diaspora: theorising women’s domestic violence journeys BSA Early Career Theorists' Symposium, LSE, London.  6 June 2014

Bowstead JC. 2013. ‘The fugitive wife effect’: women’s forced migration to escape domestic violence in the UK RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London.  29 August 2013


Bowstead JC. 2012. Seeking security/Seeking freedom: women’s journeys in response to domestic violence RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Edinburgh University.  3 July 2012


Bowstead JC. 2012. Imagined diasporas: domestic violence migrants within the UK Imaging Migrants Seminar Series, Research Centre for Migration, Belonging and Refugee Studies, University of East London.  2 May 2012


Bowstead JC. 2012. Boundary crossings: Women escaping domestic violence in an era of the new Localism BSA Annual Conference, Leeds University.  12 April 2012


Bowstead JC. 2011. Internally Displaced Persons in England: women’s forced migration in response to domestic violenceWork in Process, Work on Progress: 21st Century approaches in Violence Against Women Research, CWASU conference, LondonMet, London.  1 July 2011

Bowstead JC. 2010. Thinking with dead white men about women’s spatial strategies in fleeing domestic violence LondonMet PhD Gender Research Seminar, Women’s Library, London.  20 May 2010

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

Mapping Dangerous Spaces postgraduate symposium, British Library, London.  1 June 2009

Available at: http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/socsci/events/dangerspaces/mds.html

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