Who uses domestic, family, and sexual violence, how, and why? | HMA

Who uses domestic, family, and sexual violence, how, and why?

At the recent ‘Working with Men to End Family Violence’ online conference, Associate Professor Michael Flood from the Queensland University of Technology presented a state of knowledge report on violence perpetration. Who uses domestic, family, and sexual violence, how, and why? (qut.edu.au)

We know that domestic, family and sexual violence is widely underreported. If it does come to the attention of formal systems, then we generally know that the behaviours have become more significant and serious. I have talked previously about the higher propensity that young people who begin to engage in domestic and family violence and adolescents are at greater risk of taking that behaviour into life-course persistent behaviours. Rarely are programs dealing with low-level abusive practices and violence.

The framing of the report was interesting. As stated, “It is time to reframe the problem of domestic and sexual violence in Australia: to put perpetrators in the picture and to focus more on preventing and reducing the perpetration of abusive behaviours”. While I find the sole descriptor “perpetrator” problematic (I find narrow labelling unhelpful), the intent of the focus is valid. For many men, the life-course-persistent behaviours of abusive and violent practices create significant distress and harm across multiple relationships. We know how costly this is to the lives of others.

By adopting an ecologically nested model, the report explores the intersectionality of factors that together reinforce gendered violence. As we all know, domestic and family violence is nested in social and gender inequalities, wider societal norms, settings associated with neighbourhoods and workplaces, and of course, the individual factors related to early trauma through exposure to domestic and family violence.

What I found particularly useful was a chart in the middle of the report that mapped 34 factors against the various presentations of violence (intimate partner violence, homicide, dating violence, family violence, sexual violence, and child sex abuse). There is little debate these days about childhood experiences of witnessing or experiencing abuse as one of the main drivers for all forms of violence, with the exception of homicide. As we would anticipate, substance abuse is also right up there, as are the social norms and practices that emphasise men’s control and dominance over women.

I want to congratulate the authors for their thorough and thoughtful deep dive into bringing together research from across a wide range of domains. This report is important reading for those of us working in any violence-related domain.

Published on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023, under Family violence, Offender work, What Ken thinks

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