Each culture has its sayings and songs about the importance of home, and the comfort and security to be found there. Yet for many women, home is a place of pain and humiliation ... violence against women by their male partners is common, wide-spread and far-reaching in its impact. For too long hidden behind closed doors and avoided in public discourse, such violence can no longer be denied as part of everyday life for millions of women. This background note is a guide to research and resources on domestic violence in Australia. It is intended as an update to previous Parliamentary Library publications on this topic. It includes an overview of research on the prevalence of domestic violence, attitudes and risk factors, at risk groups and communities and the costs of domestic violence to communities and to the economy. It also covers policy approaches designed to prevent domestic violence, a survey of current Australian Government programs and initiatives and a review of future directions in domestic violence prevention. Appendix A contains links to sources of further information on domestic violence in Australia. Defining domestic violence
There has been much debate regarding the most appropriate terminology to use for violence between spouses and partners. Objections have been raised to both ‘domestic violence’ and ‘family violence’ (the terms most often used), as well as use of terms such as ‘victims’ of domestic violence. This background note generally uses use the term ‘domestic violence’ and refers to ‘victims’ of domestic violence as these are the most-commonly used and best understood of the alternatives. The broader term ‘family violence’ is used in relation to Indigenous people, as it is the preferred term in many Indigenous communities. Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship in domestic settings. These acts include physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse. Defining forms of violence, its perpetrators and their victims, is complicated by the many different kinds of intimate and family relationships and living arrangements present in Australian communities. Domestic violence is most commonly perpetrated by males against their female partners, but it also includes violence against men by their female partners and violence within same-sex relationships. The traditional associations of domestic violence are with acts of physical violence within relationships occurring in the home but this understanding fails to grasp the complexity of the phenomenon. The National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and Children (NCRVWC) found that: ... a central element of domestic violence is that of an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling one’s partner through fear (for example, by using violent or threatening behaviour) ... the violent behaviour is part of a range of tactics used by the perpetrator to exercise power and control ... and can be both criminal and non-criminal in nature. Domestic violence includes:
* emotional abuse—blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship, undermining the victim’s self-esteem and self-worth through comparisons with others, withdrawing interest and engagement and emotional blackmail * verbal abuse—swearing and humiliation in private and public, focusing on intelligence, sexuality, body image or the victim’s capacity as a parent or spouse * social abuse—systematic isolation from family and friends, instigating and controlling relocations to a place where the victim has no social circle or employment opportunities and preventing the victim from going out to meet people * economic abuse—controlling all money, forbidding access to bank accounts, providing an inadequate ‘allowance’, preventing the victim seeking or holding employment and taking wages earned by the victim * psychological abuse—making threats regarding custody of...
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