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Virtual reality training to tackle coercive control rolled out across Greater Manchester

A project jointly funded by GMCA has been rolled out across Greater Manchester to raise awareness of gender-based violence and further support those affected by it.

Mother Mountain Productions has been funded to deliver an innovative training programme that uses virtual reality headsets to immerse those working in professional sectors into the shoes of those experiencing gender-based violence.

Mother Mountain’s training programme is called ‘Unbroken’ and works to raise awareness and understanding a specific form of gender-based violence: coercive control. The programme comprises two parts: Insight and Flourish.

‘Insight’ is based on the real-life accounts of 15 survivors and interviews with five agencies that support victims. Aimed at professionals, such as legal, health and social care sector staff, it immerses them into scenarios so they can fully understand the impact of this behaviour.

The other part is ‘Flourish,’ which includes inspirational interviews with survivors and experts, animations, mindfulness meditations and life coaching, and aims to promote resilience and recovery for people affected by gender-based violence. ‘Flourish’ is being rolled out to agencies who support women across North Wales and Greater Manchester.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said: “We are proud to endorse the work of Mother Mountain and to see this innovative work be delivered across the city-region. We truly do things differently here and this is a great example of how we are prepared to support forward-thinking programmes so that Greater Manchester can benefit.”

Kate Green, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire said: “The signs of domestic abuse and coercive control can so often be hard to see, both for those affected by it and those close to them. And we know that it is often difficult to speak out and seek help. That’s why Mother Mountain’s work is so important. It’s vital that we improve understanding of gender-based violence wherever we can, but particularly amongst professionals who come into contact with a wide range of people in our communities, and of course continue to provide support for those that ask for help.”

Greater Manchester’s Gender-Based Violence Strategy is a 10-year plan that sets out how the city-region aims to tackle all forms of gender-based violence and the attitudes that allow it to occur. The strategy outlines a whole-systems approach, that is how the city-region’s local authorities, partners, and services all come together to tackle gender-based violence holistically.

Improving the response and experience of the criminal justice system is a key part of delivering the strategy, as is supporting those affected by gender-based violence, by raising awareness of what constitutes gender-based violence and the support available.

Jude Traharne Managing Director of Mother Mountain Productions, herself a survivor of domestic abuse and coercive control says that: “My own experience of the legal system is that many within it did not understand coercive control. Professionals tend to understand physical injuries but often struggle to understand the long-term effects of coercive control over years which can lead to a gradual erosion of who you are in almost every sense”.

Sarah Marsh of the Crown Prosecution Service who has experienced the VR project says: “I found the experience something that will stay with me for a very long time. Being immersed in the scenarios gave greater understanding and perception of domestic abuse and controlling and coercive behaviour which standard classroom training does not reach.”

The Deputy Mayor and Assistant Deputy Mayor stood together, smiling, and holding a booklet about Mother Mountain's virtual reality training programme.

Read more about Greater Manchester's Gender-Based Violence Strategy on our webpage:

Find out more about the 'Unbroken' training on Mother Mountain's website:

Article Published: 06/11/2023 16:58 PM