The following post on domestic violence is part one of a two part series.
Domestic violence comes in many shapes and forms. From psychological, to physical, and social, this form of violence can deliver a life-long injury to the victim. Indiscriminate in nature, domestic violence crosses gender, cultural, and geographical borders despite what the media may deliver as a socioeconomic class phenomena. Examining statistics from a number of sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast, domestic violence not only crosses socioeconomic class, but also often takes on a different form dependent on specific markers. These can include, intimidation, sexual and financial abuse. What is clear is that women by far and large are the biggest victims of domestic violence. This does not exclude them from being perpetrator, but it does provide some insight to some sort of gender bias. No one is immune; no one section of society is completely void of this rot.
The social stigmas of the low income or migrant family being more prone to domestic violence over other sections of the community simply hold no statistical value in Australia. Conversely, we are also faced with the issue that the number of reportable cases of domestic violence is in some cases not reflective of the prevalence of it in society. There are a number of reasons why this is so. The trauma of being seen as a victim and hence failure by their peers, the financial impact of any collapse of the family unit (divorce), or the belief that it wont happen again. This list is not exhaustive however all and any of these reasons is enough for anyone who has fallen victim of domestic violence to not report the crime. If we were to see much higher rates of reporting this may provide a clearer picture as to whom, what are where? How do we educate and support people to report the crime? How do we generate an environment that by its very nature does not disseminate a culture of violence.
For government, the problem of not realising accurate numbers for the incidence of domestic violence can effect how much resource is provided to combat it. It can also have an adverse effect of diluting the real social cost in terms of people in crisis. Compounding these issues is the cultural diversity that many modern nations now has as part of its population. Religious, and/or cultural rules, norms and institutions offer a divergent set of practices that make governing and policing, a political double-edged sword. There are several cultures where certain behaviour is condoned that could be classified as domestic violence here in Australia. This is where any nationalistic undertones need to be dismissed and human values instated. The final ingredient is the media, with commercialism driving many forms of once critical journalism; today’s media yearn for sensationalism, opaque accuracy, and above all profits. Suffering under the pressure to fuel the capitalist beast, journalists (a loose term in itself today) are not always to blame. In many cases it is driven from above…
When it comes to profiling what a typical domestic violence offender looks like, we are left with no valid example. This is largely due to the broad application of this crime across all parts of society. Here are some examples;
- Father of four, professional career, financial independence. Uses domestic violence in a social manner by berating his wife for not keeping up appearances.
- Husband, middle management, substance abuser, restricts access to family finances and controls movements of his wife.
- Wife, mother of one, falsely accuses husband of domestic violence in order to subvert the marriage.
All of these examples constitute domestic violence. All of them fall under different drivers, motives, and execution. All of them have different post-traumatic effects for the victim. Researchers have been able to produce different models for a collection of offenders, and these do go some way to offering a profile, but only a single behavioural type matrix. This is why it so hard to produce a ‘one size fits all’ profile of a potential offender. What drives a person over the edge where they feel compelled to strike their partner? Human, not religious or cultural values are what are needed to reduce domestic violence.
We have liberalised so much of our world, we have removed barriers, rules, and offered an open platform for people to develop. Is it any wonder then that so many people treat the law the same way!
In part two we will look at each of our three examples in depth to try and understand the victim and how they manage their lives after the fact.