In the sorority of domestic violence more funding and more publicity means more success even though every one of the highly funded approaches have all failed before.
Honorary male members of the sisterhood join in barking up only one of the trees in the forest of DV.
Failure to stop domestic violence is guaranteed until it is recognised that women are just as aggressive in domestic partnerships as men – see for instance 250 reports referenced by California State University. http://web.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
The DV heroine of the hour, appointed Australian of the Year by a Prime Minister seeking popularity seems to have made a terrible decision when she, against all prior indications, permitted her son to spend extra time with his murderer. Had she not done so the boy may be alive today. It is impossible to know as the Coroner’s findings are sealed, but this conclusion is at least one option.
The mantra “Don’t blame the victim”, the title of a book published over 40 years ago, has acolytes who resist with religious zeal examining the real key to breaking the cycle; the behaviour of both parties.
When “a pair” is before the DV Court Magistrates must be empowered to make direct orders to both parties, to prevent each from contacting the other. Notwithstanding who lost or won the latest bout.
It is the cycle that must be broken. So many times it is the victim, who is not directly subject to orders, that makes contact resulting in first a “make up” and then a fresh battle.
The proposed amendments to the Domestic Violence Laws (SA) which provide for Magistrates to order psychological reports for just one party before making orders illustrate a blind obedience to the mantra and are bound ensure that the Court gets only half the tools that it needs.
The Court is being given only half a chance no matter how much funding is thrown at the publicity propaganda
In the last 20 years there has been little effective reduction in domestic violence, little better protection for victims and little protection of future generations from continuing the cycle of abuse.
Our criminal system decides things one way or the other. Guilt or innocence.
Of course there are 100% innocent victims such as children who are sexually or physically abused, or neglected and victims of random or rampage shootings, and there are 100% responsible perpetrators, such as rapists and robbers of complete strangers
In between these two extremes there are victims who seek, challenge, tease, or entice the perpetrator or who are willing participants in fights or duels.
Domestic violence is complex, as is the relationship between men and women.
Since the book titled “Do not blame the victim” was published in 1971 it has been translated into: “do not explore the role of the victim”.
What about where the victim deserved it? For instance: Where a rapist is seriously injured or killed by his target, or the injury of an assailing drunk by his target, or a persistently abusive husband who is eventually seriously injured or killed by his wife?
In such cases the apparent victim has undoubtedly contributed to the consequences.
“Don’t blame the victim” is a mantra which prevents the exploration of victim’s characteristics and relationship with the perpetrator which could provide better tools to prevent domestic violence.
1970’s dogma that prevents exploration of this complexity by creating a fear against exploring the role of victims may be preventing the finding of solutions.
Remedies for domestic violence which refuse to explore the victims psychology are demonstrably not working.
Sending the husband to gaol is a temporary fix. Programs that require him to “totally accept all blame” will not help him because a proper analysis of the relationship may not bear this out.
Confirming the wife’s status as a victim may perpetuate further violence because it does not explore and explain her more subtle role in the violent relationship.
He leaves prison with more rage and she may simply find herself another abusive man.
While it is clear that abuse of women by men is unjustifiable under any circumstance, it is still important to differentiate between relative degrees of responsibility.
Dogma that victims are always completely innocent is absurd.
The denial of any victims capacity to predict or prevent, or even unconsciously invite abuse, is to reduce women to helpless, incapable creatures, and, re-victimizes them.
If a boy identifies with an abusive father, we can expect him to attempt to repeat the abusive behaviour. Similarly, a girl who observes her mother being abused is more likely to engage in such behaviour herself . It is not uncommon for a person to assume both roles and become an abuser as well as a victim.
When the culturally violent messages complement the familial ones, children may not have any other frame of reference, and are most likely to fall into the role of victims, victimizers, or both.
Instead of blame, what about another approach? What about ways to intervene and hopefully stop the patterns of violence.
Domestic violence happens in a relationship. Each participant's behaviour must be understood within its context.
The parties may unconsciously play mutually dependant and complementary roles.
Looking at the different roles the abuser and abused is fundamental to unlocking this approach. It needs to look at the currently taboo and ignored role of the victim.
We must understand the interplay between husband and wife and how their behaviours contribute to the maintenance and escalation of violence.
The focus should be on the destructive system they developed and maintain in the context of their family history, probably of abuse.
Of course necessary protection should continue to be provided, and the Attorney’s Intervention Order amendments just may enhance that process but this should not be the only focus.
The long-term goal is to help the victim and victimiser to new behaviour. Abuse of women by men is unjustifiable under any circumstance. At some point the physically stronger just has to restrain or be restrained.
Where appropriate, victims must be helped to develop an understanding of how they contribute to their own victimisation and to be able to break the dangerous and painful link between love and abuse while helping them realise that they deserve respect and dignity like any other human being.
As a community we have not yet come up with any successful response. One , or more, Australian women a week are killed by domestic violence. Tweaking or repeating current approaches, and that is all that this new Bill does, offers nothing.
Not taking the psychology of both domestic parties into account seems to be an omission; an omission that could be crucial to better outcomes.
It is proposed that the subject Act, Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009
Be more radically amended so that:
- the Court be given the power to order a psychological assessment and or assistance to both parties of a domestically violent relationship.
- the Court be empowered order a psychological assessment report of the perpetrator before permitting any access to the victim
- that Court be empowered order a psychological assessment report of the victim before permitting the victim to make any choice to access the perpetrator.
- the Court be specifically empowered to make orders with respect to the victim as well as to the defendant
The Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009
Section 6 should be amended to include the words underlined
6—Grounds for issuing intervention order
There are grounds for issuing an intervention order against a person (the defendant or the Victim) if--
- it is reasonable to suspect that the defendant will, without intervention, commit an act of abuse against a person; or
- it is reasonable to suspect that the victim will, without intervention, commit an act likely to bring about abuse against a person, including the victim,
Section 12 (2) should be amended to include the words underlined:
(2) An intervention order may specify--
(a) conditions under which a prohibition imposed by the order does not apply; and
(b) conditions that must be complied with by either the defendant or the victim in relation to a requirement imposed by the order.
Section 13 should be amended to include the words underlined
13—Terms of intervention order—intervention programs
(1) An intervention order may require the defendant or the victim or both to undergo an assessment by the intervention program manager to determine--
(a) a form of intervention program that is appropriate for the defendant or victim or both; and
(b) the defendant's or victim’s or both of them eligibility for the services included on the program.
(2) An intervention order issued by the Court may require the defendant or victim or both of them separately or together to undertake an intervention program if the intervention program manager has advised the Court that--
(a) the defendant is eligible for the services to be included on the program in accordance with applicable eligibility criteria (if any); and
(b) those services are available for the defendant at a suitable time and place.
(3) If an intervention order contains a requirement under this section, the defendant must comply with requirements regulating his or her participation in the assessment or intervention program notified from time to time by the defendant's case manager and a failure to comply with such a requirement constitutes a contravention of the term of the intervention order imposed under this section.
(4) Before making any order under this act the Court may require the defendant or the victim or any other party to the domestic relationship of the parties to undergo a psychological assessment and may adjourn making further orders before receiving a report from the assessing psychologist.
(5) The Court may make orders to keep confidential from such parties as it thinks fit any report received by it pursuant to this section.