Putting Conversations About Intimate Partner Violence on the Agenda

Posted: 15/02/2019

Family violence is a serious yet often hidden crime. It is a fundamental violation of human rights and is unacceptable in any form, any community, or any culture. Led by the efforts of specialist services and people, primarily women, speaking out courageously about their experiences, family violence seems to be finally emerging from the shadows as the general public begin to have conversations more widely about it. People are beginning to be more aware of the drivers, patterns and devastating effects. We are learning about the underlying power dynamics and attitudes, particularly towards women, that give rise to it.

In its publication called Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework and Practice Guides (2012) the Victorian Government Department of Human Services defines family violence as ‘ … behaviour that controls or dominates a family member and causes them to fear for their own or another person’s safety or wellbeing. The publication goes on to say, ‘Family violence extends beyond physical and sexual violence and often involves emotional or psychological abuse and economic abuse.’

It’s time to de-bunk the myth that family violence is the problem of ‘that group of other people over there’. The stats from a nine-year trend analysis of the database from the Victorian Family Violence Department of Justice (vol. 4), reveal that family violence occurs in all areas of society, regardless of location, socioeconomic and health status, age, culture, gender, sexual identity, ability, ethnicity or religion. The data also show that while anyone can be a victim or perpetrator of family violence, it is most likely to be committed by men against women, children and other vulnerable people.

There are four key drivers of violence against women according to Our Watch1:

  • Condoning of violence against women
  • Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence
  • Rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity
  • Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.

With these drivers in mind, Our Watch says that actions to prevent violence against women include:

  • Challenging the condoning of violence against women
  • Promoting women’s independence and decision-making
  • Challenging gender stereotypes and roles
  • Strengthening positive, equal and respectful relationships.

The new card set published by St Luke’s Innovative Resources called No Room for Family Violence reflects these drivers of family violence. It sets out to create conversations where everyone, regardless of gender or sexual identity can recognise abusive and respectful behaviour in an intimate partner relationship, and get closer to articulating what they want more of, what they are concerned about and what they want none of. MORE, CONCERN and NONE—these are the three suits in this card set.

Use these 30 cards to create dynamic, open conversations about intimate partner relationships in schools, sporting clubs, family violence services, refuges and community services, counselling, health education and mental health settings, groups for men, women, couples and parents. Make sure conversations about abusive and respectful behaviour are on the agenda wherever young people or adults gather—this is one powerful way to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and help bring about change.

 [1] Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth (2015) Change the Story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia1.https://www.ourwatch.org.au/What-we-do/National-Primary-Prevention-Framework


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