© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd There is growing recognition of the links between knowledge translation, policy and practice, particularly in the domestic violence research area. A literature review applying a systematic approach with a realist lens was the preferred methodology. The review answered the following question: What are the mechanisms of change in research networks which 'work' to support knowledge translation? A search of eight electronic databases for articles published between 1960 and 2018 was completed, with 2,999 records retrieved, 2,869 records excluded and 130 full-text articles screened for final inclusion in the review. The inclusion criteria were purposefully broad, including any study design or data source (including grey literature) with a focus on domestic violence knowledge translation. The analysis of included studies using a realist lens identified the mechanisms of change to support knowledge translation. A disaggregation of the included studies identified five theories focused on the following outcomes: (1) develop key messages, (2) flexible evidence use, (3) strengthen partnerships, (4) capacity building and (5) research utilisation. This review adds to our understanding of knowledge translation of domestic violence research. The mechanisms of change identified may support knowledge translation of research networks. Further research will focus on exploring the potential application of these program theories with a research network.