The training itself was really great, and I liked the practical tips that we got from the program about managing resistance etc. I also liked the little interludes about creating safety and also using values as guidelines. I have used these after the training in group and they have been very useful!
– Western Australia Corrections Staff –
Family violence has emerged from behind closed doors and is now recognised as one of the major issues facing families. It cuts across class, ethnicity and place and time. Compared with many other violent crimes, the legal and social dimensions of family violence present several complications for effective legal control and intervention. Family violence differs significantly from other forms of violence in several important ways.
With often strong emotional ties between victims and perpetrators parties often love one another, or at least the victim may love the perpetrator. The bond may be traumatic, complicating victim resolve to enter into a lengthy adversarial proceeding to invoke punishments and creating internal conflict regarding separation.
The victim may be financially dependent on the perpetrator or may face a severely diminished standard of living if separated. Arguably, she faces an economic life at or below the official threshold of poverty upon leaving the relationship. In times of recession it is worth pondering the restricted choices many victims of family violence might perceive having.
These ties to perpetrators may lead victims toward what they might consider more rational objectives. The bottom line for many victims of family violence is wanting guarantees for the safety for their children and themselves, to survive economically, or get counselling help for the person who is abusing them. This still ranks high on the hopes of those victimised, despite evidence at times that this is not a safe or realistic aim.
In our experience family violence is often a recurring event between individuals in daily contact, usually without the forms of guardianship and surveillance that are available in public spaces. Unlike robberies, in which victims and offenders often are unacquainted, victims and perpetrators often occupy the same space, share and compete for resources, and have emotional ties. In other words they have to go to bed together as well as get up the next day and face each other. In this context, threats are readily conveyed and quite believable. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to mount and maintain a deterrent threat within a context of on-going and unsupervised contact between victim and the abusive person.
The scale of family violence makes it difficult to control solely through legal sanctions and deterrent threats. The base rates remain quite high relative to other violent crimes, with self-reported domestic assault prevalence rates of at least 10 percent for both men and women. Prevalence rates exceed 30 percent for some subgroups. Family violence rates are highest among subgroups that also have high rates of stranger violence, further burdening limited police resources within spatial areas where assaults are concentrated. It has always been my view that if someone has an attitude that is supportive of violence within the public sphere, then these attitudes will carry through into the personal sphere of the home.
Why is this important to us
A person’s right to lives free from fear and violence is what is important to us. Our two directors Suzanne and Ken have dedicated their adult lives to working to bring an end to family violence in its various forms. This has been our area of practice for the past 35 years, having worked with men who engage in abusive practices, supporting women who are most often the victims, and undertaking evidential work with child in situations of neglect and sexual abuse. As parents, brothers and sisters and as friends we know that violence and abuse has no place in family life. It effective robs people of the opportunities of being the best they can be, instead replacing this with limitation.
Our track record – some examples
HMA has successfully managed and/or contributed to a number of pieces of work to organisations within New Zealand and Australia including:
- Initiated Stopping Violence Services Christchurch, a community based agency. Ken continues to Chair the Board
- Helped establish Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga/National Network of Stopping Violence Services
- Member of the Progamme Regulation working party for the MOJ Domestic Violence Act 1995
- Developed a five module training programme for Te Kupenga/National Network of Stopping Violence Services
- Family Violence Advisory Committee which provided independent policy advice to the Minister of Social Service and Employment on family violence issues, Chair. 1993 – 1998
- Family violence programme for Western Australia Department of Corrections
- Delivered workshops for the eight Family Violence Courts across New Zealand sites
- Design ChangeAbout (65 hour) family violence intervention for Victoria Corrections
- Training of community providers for the new 26 session Family Violence Programme for New Zealand Corrections
- Implemented family violence programme into Relationships Australia Queensland (Cairns, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Springhill sites)
- Delivery of a range e-learning family violence courses
We have also authored or co-edited the following publications on family violence:
- Fraser, H. & McMaster, K.J. & (2008) ‘Gender, sex and power’ in New Zealand Social Work: Contexts and practice. Marie Connelly (Ed) Oxford University Press, Auckland
- McMaster K.J. & Swain, P (1989) A Private Affair: Stopping Men’s Violence To Women, G.P. Books, Wellington, 1989
- McMaster K.J, (1993) Feeling Angry; Playing Fair, A Guide To Change, Reed Books., Birkenhead (new edition released June 1998)
- McMaster, K.J. (2001) ‘Working with Violence: Family violence as a professional issue’ in New Zealand Social Work: Contexts and practice. Marie Connelly (Ed) Oxford University Press, Auckland
- McMaster, K.J. & Wells, A. (Eds.) (2003) Innovative approaches to Stopping Family Violence, Steele Roberts: Wellington
- McMaster, K.J. (2004), ‘Family violence: State and community’ in Marie Connolly Ed) Violence in society; New Zealand perspectives, Te Awatea Press, Christchurch
- McMaster, K.J. & Bakker, L. (Eds) (2007) Will they do it again? Assessing and managing risk, HMA Books: Christchurch
- McMaster, K.J. & Riley, D. (Eds) (2011) Effective interventions with offenders: Lessons learnt, Steele Roberts, Wellington