Research Project with University of Sussex Launched

As part of WHRIN’s commitment to support practitioners to gain a better understanding of how beliefs in witchcraft and spirit possession impact on the lives of those accused, and their siblings, in the UK, we are partnering with the University of Sussex to research these issues in more depth. This is ground-breaking research and we need your help if we are to ensure that survivors of abuse, their families and the practitioners working to support them get the support they need. So, if you have experience of working on such cases, have a family member who was accused of witchcraft or thought to have been possessed by evil spirits, or have direct experience of these issues yourself, please read below for more information and contact us on the details below. Thanks in advance for any support that you may be able to offer here!

Study title – Accusations of spirit possession and witchcraft against children: how this is experienced by those who are accused and their siblings who are not accused.

Researcher Details 

Leethen Bartholomew is carrying out his doctoral studies at the University of Sussex. He has been a social worker for the past 19 years and for 11 of these years he has worked with families where a child has been accused of being possessed by evil spirits or witchcraft. Leethen is also WHRIN’s lead trainer on these issues and has provided training to thousands of practitioners across the UK.  He is deeply committed to increasing awareness of the issue amongst professionals and communities in the hope that children and young people are better protected and supported.

What is the purpose of the research?

Over the past two decades in the UK, there has been a number of high profile cases involving children who have been accused by their parent or carer of being possessed or being a witch. Some of these children have been harmed and consequently taken into social services care. In a number of these cases their brothers or sisters witnessed them being harmed; sometimes children who were not accused were taken into care too. In most cases, not only the accused child but also their sibling(s) are likely to have been affected by what happened.For example, in a number of high profile cases in the UK, the siblings of those accused have witnessed abuse, been accused themselves and/or undergone serious psychological, emotional and physical distress. We need to understand what this is like for each of them, so that we can  better protect them and respond to their needs. The study aims to do that.

How you can help

As you may appreciate, this is a highly sensitive, and therefore, important, subject area and we really need your help if we are to develop the understanding needed to ensure that vulnerable members of society are better protected and supported. All information will be treated with confidentiality and advice and guidance can be provided by Leethen where needed.

Please email Leethen on l.bartholomew@sussex.ac.uk or call him 07947 366795 if you would like to know more information about how you can take part in this research project.

Thanks in advance for any support that you may be able to offer here and we look forward to hearing from you.

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