UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Everyday Disasters and Violences Research Group (EDV-RG)

Welcome to the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction’s Everyday Disasters and Violences Research Group. We investigate risks from everyday hazards and vulnerabilities such as gender-based and structural violences and systems of marginalisation.


The Everyday Disasters and Violences Research Group is a multidisciplinary network of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners as well as advocates who are investigating how everydayism and systematic violences pose risks.

We use this knowledge to contribute to improving the way that policies, practices, governance, social and legal systems, and societal services can improve their responses to marginalisations, gendered and intersectional injustices, and violences leading to perpetual everyday disaster risks.

We investigate ‘everydayism’ against specific marginalised groups (undocumented, migrants, refugees, homeless) particularly gender-based violence and including everyone in initiatives such as for warnings. ‘Small’ disasters that can have a higher cumulative effect than those hitting the headlines as well as ‘slow, quiet, silent’ violences – conflict-related, and other violences, as well as approaches to tackling them such as disaster diplomacy. We also look into how toxic and harmful materials in our environment, notably greenhouse gas emissions contribute to the unequal death of vulnerable populations living in or travelling though highly polluted areas.


To comprehensively investigate everyday risks, hazards, and vulnerabilities in societies and environments for providing evidence-based recommendations for policy and practice that will reduce everyday disaster risks, save lives, and improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life of those marginalised and systematically discriminated which will lead to an improved society for everyone.


  • Build up a network of research-and-action members, collaborators and  partners.

  • Connect expert practitioners and researchers.

  • Publish high-quality research outputs and reports to improve existing policy and practice.

  • Engage in public outreach to educate and be educated by aspiring students, scientists and researchers, policymakers and practitioners.

  • Provide a platform for cross-UCL grant proposals in everyday disasters, risks, hazards, vulnerabilities, and violences.

Affiliated research group projects

  1. Human trafficking risks surrounding unaccompanied refugee children in Home Office operated hotels
    A collaboration between University College London’s Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, the Department of Security and Crime Science, and ECPAT UK, and funded by the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre. The research project investigates the experiences and observations of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children in Home Office-operated hotels and foster care settings in the Brighton and Hove to better understand what different factors increase the risks of human trafficking and exploitation, and what measures can be taken to prevent trafficking, mitigate risks and improve early intervention.

  2. See, Hear, Empower, Respond, Act (SHERA)
    A global research initiative based at University of Manchester investigating the health, social and financial impacts of mothers and children surviving domestic abuse in the context of the family court in England and Brazil. 

  3. Hague Mothers
    A global awareness raising FiLiA initiative aiming to end the injustice of child abduction allegations raised against mothers fleeing domestic abuse with their children across country borders in the name of The Hague Convention.   

  4. Non-economic Loss and Grief as a Result of Climate Change
    A doctoral investigation exploring how people are experiencing and working through loss and grief in the context of climate change in Vanuatu. As current global efforts to mitigate climate change fail to protect vulnerable island nations, its impacts will continue to cause grief and suffering through loss of life, health and wellbeing, Indigenous knowledge, place, and culture. In-depth understanding of this loss, particularly its non-economic aspects, is limited. The study aims to address this gap and build a praxis to work through loss and to support healing and hope.

Completed projects

PROWELLMIGRANTS (PWM) – investigating the ways that migrants’ and trapped populations’ mental health were impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in the context of India. Structural marginalisation, state-lead and gender-based violence were key factors compromising people’s wellbeing.


Lead and Coordinators


EDV-RG Coordinator

Affiliate members (UCL)
Associate members (non-UCL)
Partnering institute collaborators
  • Brunel University London
  • Centric Lab
  • FiLiA
  • Durham University
  • Oregon State University
  • Oxford Brooks University
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • University of Agder
  • University of Auckland
  • University of Copenhagen
  • University of Gießen University of Heidelberg
  • University of London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Queensland
  • United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
  • Waipapa Taumata Rau
  • Örebro University

More about ‘Everyday Disasters’ – Why are they ‘disasters’?

The UK government estimates that over 2 million victim-survivors experience domestic abuse each year in the country leading to the annual social and economic costs of approximately £74 billion in England and Wales.

One in five homicides relates to domestic abuse where there were 114 recorded domestic homicides in 2020–2021 (75 of them women). Further to this, both domestic abuse and homicides result in additional deaths by suicides. Despite these stark numbers only about 8% of recorded domestic abuse crimes lead to a charge or summons.

Only 16% of sexual assaults are reported to the police as victim-survivors often feel ‘embarrassed’ and scared. Many do not believe that the police can help or are afraid that that they will be further ‘humiliated’ if turning to the police. It is estimated that less than 1% of reported rapes in England and Wales end in a conviction.

Understanding violence – it is all about power and control

Structural violence, domestic and interpersonal, is about power and control. It is therefore important to look at the overall relational power context to be able to identify the abuse and evaluate the harm. Domestic abuse is a major form of violence that due to societal power dynamics continues to be highly gendered where about two thirds of the domestic abuse survivors are women while most perpetrators are men. Mothers and children are for this reason more likely to experience violence where domestic abuse particularly often begins or escalates during the pregnancy.

It is estimated that it generally takes seven attempts to leave an abusive partner. Even after escaping violence in a home or country, gaining police protection and/or protective orders through the criminal courts, many mothers and children are forced back into abusive relationships by the pro-contact culture and unsafe child arrangements made in the family courts.

The time period of leaving an abusive situation represents the most dangerous time for the victim-survivor with an increased risk of violence. This is also the time period when most domestic abuse related homicides take place. A common tactic of post-separation abuse, and way to continue coercive and controlling behaviour after the victim-survivor leaves and/or seeks support, is to turn to other tools or extended systems in the society to continue the violence and thereby regain power and control. This often includes manipulation of the family courts, police and/or local authorities to isolate, control and punish the victim-survivor for leaving and resisting the targeted violence. It is crucial that our societal systems are equipped, trained and aware of these strategies to be able to respond appropriately. Currently, serious gaps in these systems and services result in them ending up enabling the abuser and their violence rather than protecting victim-survivors.

Societal power dynamics lead to gendered and marginalised violence

Women’s Aid notes that within a sample of almost 35,000 female domestic abuse service users in England between 2020–2021, 94.3% indicated having experienced domestic abuse at the hands of a man. Adding to this, 73% of all domestic abuse crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales that year recorded a female victim-survivor.

One in five women in England and Wales experiences rape (including attempted sexual assault) in their lifetime while only 5% of those sexually attacked are men. The 2020 Crime Survey for England and Wales, suggests that 139,000 people faced attempted sexual assault or rape, 132,000 of whom were women.

There are many other marginalised groups in our societies that also face an increased risk of experiencing violence. For example, people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to experience domestic abuse, stalking or rape than people who do not live with a disability. In addition, when considering sexual orientation, people identifying as LGBTQ+ are more likely to experience domestic abuse than heterosexual people.

What are the societal costs and impacts?

The financial impacts of violence are significant due to its high prevalence and prolonged experience. Notably, the costs generated by emotional harm are particularly extensive due to fear, anxiety and depression. This is important, as much of the attention around domestic violence focuses on and frames physical violence as more serious than non-physical abuse, forgetting scars that may not be visible to the eye.

Adding to the £74 billion lost to domestic abuse in England and Wales, it is estimated that each homicide costs society almost £4 million while the annual cost of rape offence is about £5.5 billion. Despite the wide range of these approximate costs, it is clear that most impacts of violence cannot be estimated due to the lack of available research, evidence or data.

Not to be forgotten is the long line of secondary or indirect impacts of violence. For example, a child exposed to domestic abuse can suffer such impacts for the rest of their life and even pass them on intergenerationally. Experiencing domestic abuse as a child often results in devastating consequences that will affect a child’s development, educational ability and mental health. This is why children are now recognised as victim-survivors (rather than witnesses) of domestic abuse through experiences of violence in the home. It is estimated that at least 7% of children aged 10 to 15 years between 2017–2019 in England and Wales lived in households where an adult reported experiencing domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse also leads to homelessness when victim-survivors either flee their homes to seek safety or lose them as a result of economic constraints and losses often due to financial abuse. Violence impacts victim-survivors’ educational opportunities, employment and income prospects as it tends to result in school or work absences. Subsequently, longer periods of unemployment or not finalising educational degrees act as poverty traps and can force them into debt.

We urgently need to improve our knowledge about everyday disasters and violences through better data to ensure that the impacts on specific groups is better understood and addressed.

Research group and relevant publications

Other research group outputs

The Hague Abduction Convention process allows violent fathers to continue to abuse and control mothers and children who are fleeing violence across country borders. Changing it is difficult. It will need a whole generation of researchers, lawyers and policy-makers. Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson (UCL) and Kim Fawcett (Durham University) have begun that task in their university modules. Find out what they are doing, why it’s important, and what the response of their students has been to their innovative and powerful teaching. This could be a teaching model for universities everywhere.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zheGTuKSLcM


Poster view of brief
Shocked by the Harms Inflicted by the Hague Convention: UCL students Haleemah-Sadiah Afolabi, Elizabeth Kay, Eve Lunn, Tiffany Mihardja, Olivia Rix, and Erin Smith report back on research completed for Dr Sonja Ayeb Karlsson’s UCL Humanitarian Policy module.

Read the blog

This SHERA video, released in March 2023, explains the urgent need for the two research projects in England and Brazil looking into how family law is used to enable and continue structural violence against women and children: 

Vimeo Widget Placeholderhttps://vimeo.com/800500919/19c996ac82