My Trip to Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen…

Margaret Conroy, Criminology, Social Policy and Social Work, Lancaster University (2019 Cohort)

I was checking through my emails one evening, procrastinating during an intense period of writing…when I came across the inevitable call for papers from the European Network on Gender and Violence (ENGV) 2022 Annual Conference in Copenhagen.  One day, I thought, I shall actually respond to one of these!  Hang on a minute, this was a call for papers for an Early Career Researchers Pre-Conference Day….I can do this I thought!  I had 24 hours to submit my hastily written proposal (clearly I had missed this email!). I pressed submit and put it to the back of my mind.  I received an email back sometime after telling me it had been accepted.  Crikey, now I had to write the thing! 

All good – I submitted my paper ‘Non-Fictional, Filmed Monologue Vignettes (FVM’s): A Novel Medium in Domestic Violence Research’ and eventually arrived in Copenhagen super excited to meet others in my field, super excited to see Copenhagen …just all round super excited!

Prior to the conference we were all put into small groups and were sent each other’s papers to read so that we were able to get the most from each presentation. This was designed to be a safe and encouraging space in which we would all feel comfortable sharing our work, our ideas and to gain invaluable feedback perhaps on where we could improve or develop our ideas. 

I arrived at the School of Social Work, University College Copenhagen, a tad nervous. I need not have been. Ksenia, the organiser was so welcoming and the format felt immediately informal and relaxed. I listened with interest about a diverse range of exciting PhD work in progress.  We had some really fascinating round table discussions and the feedback and comments that I got following my presentation were extremely constructive and thought provoking.  All of which were so helpful at this particular moment in my PhD journey.

At the end of the ECR day, we were all invited to a celebratory evening at Danner House, which is a progressive Women’s Rights Organisation with an astonishing back story.  Danner has been a safe house for women in need since the Danish Countess Danner, married to King Frederik VII, built it in 1875. It went on to serve as a safe house for poor working class women until the late 1970s when it faced the threat of demolition. The Danish Women’s Liberation Movement occupied the house on the 2nd of November 1979, and through their determined efforts they restored Danner House and it became one of the first shelters in Denmark. Danner House is an iconic symbol of the women’s rights movement in Denmark.  The photo above shows the women’s rights symbol that was painted on these windows by the women who broke in and occupied the house until they were able to secure funding for their work to continue.  We listened to an evening of inspirational speeches by all those across the network and had the privilege to hear how Danner continues to work with survivors of violence, provide national counselling services, as well as public awareness programs, advocacy work and national and international partnership projects through its Resource Centre.

What more inspiration does one need on the eve of a conference on Gender and Violence!

Day 1….and onto the full conference itself. This was such a fantastic opportunity to meet peers from all over Europe and to actually meet in person and chat informally after trying to network on-line for the previous 2 years!

As everyone will know, it’s always so hard trying to whittle down which parallel sessions we want to attend because all of them seem so interesting!  I was a complete sponge….I learnt about everything from the limitlessness of abuse with augmented reality and deep fake porn, to the work that is being done around creating communities where survivors of abuse feel able to disclose early on and get support quickly.  I even got to meet the infamous Marianne Hester, one of my hero’s in the field!  It was massively insightful to gain a European perspective on what the research priorities are across Europe, but also to find out what work is in progress out there in my field and who is doing it!

This trip, so kindly funded by the ESRC, has been an excellent way of dipping my toe in the water in terms of presenting and discussing my work with other PhD students from all over Europe.  It was supportive, yet really constructive and has enhanced my confidence enormously.

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