2016 Research Report: Delivering Domestic Violence Services: Listening to women with lived experience by Sarah Van Est
This report shares narratives from women in our community who have experienced domestic and family violence. These stories are spoken with bravery, wisdom and freedom. Listening reveals the journey of women, as they reach out from behind control, isolation and manipulation for help and support. Each narrative shares a powerful piece of new evidence to help us create positive experiences and outcomes for those who follow.
The draft Bill proposes that national recognition of Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs) will ensure that the protection of persons who have taken out a DVO no longer ends once they leave the state the order was made in. It will also ensure that people needing the protection of DVOs do not have to bear the burden of registering the protective order whenever they enter new jurisdiction.
There is insufficient localised evidence available to adequately inform the design of mandatory treatment programs for sex offenders in Tasmania. Therefore, the development of new legislation and associated strategies will be based on the composite set of values and attitudes of the community, informing a model that has demonstrated success in comparable socio-environments.
The contextual experiences of long term abuse and the impact on the psychological wellbeing of women is an essential consideration to self-defence (and other protective mechanisms). The law needs to make provision for women who kill their partner when they believe that it is the only option available to them to protect themselves or their children.
Consideration needs to be given to systems of power and oppression and how they impact on women’s experiences of violence. To do this effectively, an intersectional approach must be taken, wherein gender is recognized as only one aspect of many identities via which women experience oppression and disempowerment. If the Action Plan fails to appreciate and address the ways in which different types of oppression impact on women’s experience of violence, then it will be failing the women in our community who are already the most disempowered.
The current Child Support system is failing to adequately provide policies and processes that address domestic and family violence therefore women who have experienced such violence may not receive the specialised services that they require. Women who have experienced domestic or family violence are often uncomfortable self-identifying as a victim or asking for special assistance. Their own safety and wellbeing, and that of their children, is typically their priority, often to the detriment of their financial security, which may lead to reluctance in pursuing options that risk exacerbating an already dangerous situation.
Policies aimed at reducing domestic violence must address the contributing factors to domestic violence in society, including the influence of family and early childhood experience, unequal power relations between the genders, the value of women’s work, negative attitudes regarding women, religious, institutional responses and support networks. Adequate policies must aim to reduce the tendency for men to have greater leverage for coercive control, strengthen early intervention initiatives to decrease intergenerational transmission of violence and strengthen the capacity of victims to leave domestic violence and avoid future abusive relationships.
Domestic and family violence is a complex and serious social problem which affects individuals, families, communities, the workplace and the economy. Changes to the welfare system coupled with cutting back relevant support services will ultimately lead to an increase of domestic violence and abuse.