About Us

The Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) at London Metropolitan University is recognised as a centre of excellence, with an international reputation for research, evaluation, training and consultancy.

Established in 1987, we have three decades of experience in conducting independent feminist research that creates useful knowledge for policy makers, practitioners, survivors, supporters and activists. CWASU is the only research unit in Europe that integrates a focus on all forms of violence against women and child abuse. We have completed over 140 research and evaluation projects and are known for our work on making connections between forms of gender violence as well as between violence against women and child protection. We have been at the forefront of developing innovative methodologies, and continue to explore new ways of creating and analysing knowledge.

As special advisors to the British Council, CWASU undertook international work in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, providing consultancy and training on research and policy.

CWASU has a vibrant postgraduate culture. Our MA in Woman and Child Abuse is a pioneering Masters programme and we have PhD students researching a range of topics.  We have also welcomed post-doc visiting researchers from Europe, Latin America, Central Asia and the US.

Our History

CWASU, originally The Child Abuse Studies Unit, was established in 1987 by two social work lecturers in the then Polytechnic of North London – Mary MacLeod and Esther Saraga. Their concern was to develop feminist theory and practice, and take this perspective into professional training, especially social work. The Unit was founded following a historic conference on child sexual abuse in the spring of 1987 Child Sexual Abuse: Towards a Feminist Professional Practice that brought together survivors, women’s groups and services and professionals.

First member of staff

Liz Kelly was appointed the first full-time member of staff in September 1987, with a brief to develop research, information and networking. From the second year of the Unit’s existence we have also focused on abuse of adult women in the home and other forms of gender violence.

Who we are

Objectives and Purpose

  1. To work from, and extend, a feminist perspective, which recognises the complexities of, and intersections between gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, sexuality and disability.
  2. To explore the connections between various forms of assault and abuse experienced by children and women, their short and long term consequences, and how the public, the media, government and agencies respond.
  3. To conduct independent research which creates useful knowledge for policy makers, practitioners, survivors, supporters and activists.
  4. To develop training programmes, provide consultancy, enhance networking, and communicate our work in spoken and written forms.
  5. Through all of these activities to be part of a national and international network that, in the short term advocates for sanctuary for children and women who have been victimised and sanctions for perpetrators, and in the longer term seeks to eradicate violence and abuse.

Our publications

Our projects