Sunday, 15 March 2015

The gendered nature of domestic violence: Bryce task force

I have been in the unfortunate position of acting for all kinds of people who have been subjected to domestic and family violence:

  • Mothers from their children
  • Family members from other family members
  • Women who have been subject to domestic violence from male or female partners
  • Men who have been subject to domestic violence from male or female partners
  • A transgender client who was subject to domestic violence from her female partner.
The Bryce taskforce tackles head on the myth that domestic violence happens at the same rate from women to men, as it does from men to women. Some men's rights activists have long held that the rate is the same. Women domestic violence activists, on the other hand, have said that the rate is disproportionately one way. The Bryce task force agreed withe latter, although pointing that domestic violence can happen by women to men.

The Taskforce stated:

Domestic and family violence can affect any person regardless of gender, age, socio-economic status, or cultural background. While both men and women can be victims and perpetrators of domestic and family violence, it is important to acknowledge that the rate of domestic and family violence perpetrated against women is significantly higher than it is against men.
In terms of perpetration of domestic and family violence generally, the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012 personal safety survey identifies that:19
One in six Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner, compared to one in 19 Australian men
One in five women have experienced sexual abuse compared to one in 22 Australian men
One in four Australian women have experienced emotional abuse from a current or former partner, compared to one in seven Australian men.
Statistics from the Office of the State Coroner show that where the perpetration of domestic and family violence results in death, a woman is more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than a man. Of the 102 deaths occurring between 2006 and 2013 identified as being related to domestic and family violence within an intimate partner relationship, 81 (79%) involved a female victim.20
Severity of violence is often used as a key measure to understand the gendered nature of domestic and family violence. In 2004 VicHealth reported that, “...intimate partner violence is responsible for more ill-health and premature death in Victorian women under the age of 45 than any other of the well-known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking”.21 Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than any other Australian women.22
The violence would consist of him punching me, spitting on me, choking me, depriving me of sleep and threatening others would kill or rape me. I was often left bruised with multiple contusions, black eyes, pain, on occasion concussion and living in great fear for my life...
from a contributor to the Taskforce

Recognising the disproportionate rate of domestic and family violence on women enables the nature of the problem to be correctly characterised. It will allow for the development of targeted prevention and intervention strategies that address the specific needs of the victims of domestic and family violence. Further it will enable more accurate resource allocation and the provision and appropriateness of support services.
Having said this, it is imperative that a Queensland Domestic And Family Violence Prevention Strategy be inclusive, in terms of acknowledging that domestic and family violence is perpetrated by both genders within a range of intimate and non-intimate relationships. Violence within any relationship is deplorable and not to be tolerated under any circumstances. The Queensland strategy to combat violence will reflect the importance of prevailing gender statistics but will be fundamentally underscored by the desire to prevent violence against all people in all forms of relationships.
In terms of perpetration of domestic and family violence generally, current Queensland data identifies:
  • »  That between September 2013 and September 2014, 15,656 protection orders identified the aggrieved person as female as opposed to 4,486 males23
  • »  Adult male offenders committed 12,503 domestic and family violence breach offences in the 2013-14 financial year, representing 87% of total offences reported to QPS.24
    In the 2013-14 financial year 22,393 client intakes were recorded for the DVConnect Womensline. Of men assisted by DVConnect Mensline, 45% (3,401) identified as perpetrators of domestic and family violence and 11% (831) identified as victims of domestic and family violence.25
    Of respondents to the Taskforce: Domestic and Family Violence Survey (Appendix 3), 69% believed that both men and women, but mainly men commit domestic and family violence.26

2.4 Prevalence of domestic and family violence
Domestic and family violence occurs across our nation at disturbing and horrific rates. It is difficult, however, to provide accurate figures about its true extent given the often private nature of violence, the nature of the relationships involved, the range of behaviours that are covered and the fact it is often not reported.27
This is because victims of violence within an intimate relationship are less likely to perceive the behaviour as a crime, or may not report the incident because of shame or embarrassment, fear of the perpetrator, or the consequences of reporting the incident.28
A Queensland-wide study in 2011 found that 13.1% of Queensland women in a current, co- habiting, heterosexual intimate partner relationship had been physically assaulted, and 33% had been subjected to non-physical abuse by their current partner.29
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2012 personal safety survey collected detailed information from 17,050 men and women aged 18 years and over about their experience of violence since the age of 15. The survey found that:30
Women were more likely to have experienced violence by a known person, and the most likely type of known perpetrator was a previous partner
Men were more likely to have experienced violence by a stranger, and the most likely type of known perpetrator was an acquaintance or a neighbour

One in six women and one in 19 men had experienced physical
or sexual violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15

One in four women and one in seven men are estimated to have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15


The survey results also highlighted the reluctance of people to report partner violence.31 An estimated 80% of women and 95% of men never contact the police about violence by their current partner. Of those who experienced violence from their current partner, 54% of men and 26% of women had never told anyone. People were more likely to tell people about violence from a previous partner. An estimated 52% of men and 76% of women who experienced violence from previous partners had sought advice or support. Of women who had experienced violence from previous partners, 56% had sought advice from a friend or family member.
In Queensland, reported incidents of domestic and family violence have been increasing (Figure 5). QPS recorded 66,016 domestic and family violence occurrences in 2013-14, an increase of 2.7% from the previous year.32 In the same period more than 24,000 private and police initiated applications for a protection order were filed in Queensland courts, with 14,579 contravention (breach) offences recorded by the QPS.33
DVConnect is the 24/7 state-wide crisis telephone response service for people experiencing domestic and family violence. DVConnect Womensline received 53,313 calls in 2013/14
(an increase from 48,544 in 2012/13) and assisted more than 9,000 women and children to immediate safety throughout the state (an increase from over 8,000 in 2012/13).

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