What Drives & Reinforces Family Violence
Family and domestic violence is a complex issue, and one that is driven by equally as complex social and environmental factors. Research by the United Nations, World Bank and World Health Organization into the causes found that one of the key factors that must be present for family and domestic violence to become a significant issue in a community is gender inequality. This research found that issues associated with gender inequality are the most consistent predictors of violence against women and explain it’s gendered patterns. These factors are termed the gendered drivers of violence against women.
The gendered drivers of violence against women are:
- Condoning of violence against women
- Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence
- Rigid gender roles and identities
- Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.
As discussed above, family and domestic violence is a complex issue, and there are also many other factors that can change the impact of these gendered drivers. These factors operate in different ways, some reinforcing the drivers, and others such as inequality can exacerbate the issue. None of these reinforcers on their own cause family and domestic violence, but they do significantly change its prevalence and impact.
These are known as reinforcing factors:
- Condoning of violence in general
- Experience of, and exposure to, violence
- Weakening of pro-social behaviour, especially harmful use of alcohol
- Socio-economic inequality and discrimination
- Backlash factors (when male dominance, power or status is challenged).
From a young age we receive lots of messages from family, friends, the media and society about what it means to be a man or woman. These messages can be subtle, but they combine to form a set of gender norms that can be damaging to everyone, regardless of gender. By labelling and confining people into rigid, hierarchical gender roles people are pressured to conform to narrow stereotypes and this can have long term negative impacts, including increasing family and domestic violence, preventing people from accessing help and support, and increasing the prevalence of many mental health issues.
The good news of this research is that it has been found that by challenging and addressing gender inequality, we can reduce the prevalence of family and domestic violence. This means that one of the biggest drivers of family and domestic violence is preventable!
For more information about the research this article was based on, please visit the Our Watch website.
Below is a list of crisis and support services if you feel you may need further help:
Desert Blue Connect – Phone: 08 9964 2742 (Provides holistic services for women and families which include family violence response, crisis accommodation for women and children, primary prevention, sexual assault services, women’s health and unplanned pregnancy support)
1800RESPECT – Phone: 1800 737 732 (24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault)
LifeLine – Phone: 13 11 14 (Supports anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide. Lifeline can also help put you in contact with a crisis service in your area)
Mensline Australia – Phone: 1300 789 978 (Supports men and boys who are dealing with family and relationship difficulties. 24/7 telephone and online support and information service for Australian men)