Imprisonment and domestic, family and sexual violence
ANROWS Notepad | 16 July 2020
NEW EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS
Women’s imprisonment and domestic, family and sexual violence
Our latest synthesis paper brings together ANROWS research on the close connections between domestic, family and sexual violence, and women’s experiences of imprisonment.
This is an urgent problem in Australia, where the number of women in prison is increasing, and between 70 and 90 percent of all women in custody have experienced abuse.
The paper highlights the fact that women can become caught in cycles where violence increases the risk and effects of imprisonment, and imprisonment increases the risk and effects of violence.
For example, women’s experiences of violence can form a pathway into the criminal legal system through engagement in lower level criminalised activity, such as substance abuse or driving without a licence. Less commonly, experiencing violence may lead to being imprisoned for committing a violent offence, such as fighting back against a perpetrator.
Once out of prison, women also face additional barriers to seeking help (such as wanting to avoid contact with police) that can exacerbate their vulnerability to violence.
The synthesis suggests that one key way to interrupt this cycle, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is to increase the supply of public housing.
The paper also calls for more emphasis on whole-of-community approaches to family violence interventions, including early intervention for teenagers, and the development and funding of culturally relevant initiatives that will divert women away from paths to imprisonment. To be effective, these initiatives would need to have the close involvement of women with lived experience of imprisonment.
This document has been designed to help those who are developing policy frameworks for or working directly with people affected by domestic, family and sexual violence and imprisonment.
NEW COVID-19 DATA
Domestic violence has escalated during Coronavirus pandemic
New research from the Australian Institute of Criminology provides the strongest evidence to date that women are experiencing a higher rate of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic than they were before it began.
Researchers surveyed 15,000 women aged 18 years and over and found that:
- two thirds (65.4%) of women who experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former cohabiting partner in the three months prior to May said the violence had started or escalated in that period
- one in three (33.1%) said that this was the first time their partner had been violent towards them in this way
- of those who had already experienced physical or sexual violence before the pandemic, more than half (53.1%) said the violence had increased in frequency or severity.
Coercive controlling behaviours also increased: one in five women (19.9%) who experienced coercive control said that this was the first time their partner had exercised multiple tactics of emotionally abusive, harassing or controlling behaviour within their relationship.
Safety concerns were found to be an important barrier to help-seeking. More than a third of women (36.9%) who experienced partner violence said that there had been at least one occasion when they wanted to seek support but could not.
ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow noted the importance of the findings. “This evidence shows that when deciding on any COVID-19 response, it is crucial that policymakers consider the potential impacts on domestic and family violence,” said Dr Nancarrow.
New ABS crimes statistics for 2019
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its analysis of crimes recorded in 2019.
The data show that almost one third (30%) of all homicide and related offences in 2019 were related to domestic and family violence. Of the 125 victims of all homicide and homicide-related offences, almost two thirds (64%) were female.
We know from previous research that intimate partner homicide is the most common form of homicide in Australia. ANROWS and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) are currently exploring the patterns of behaviour leading up to intimate partner homicides in Australia between 2006 and 2018. This project involves analysing the nature of the relationships between victims and offenders, as well as identifying potential points of intervention and the events and behaviours that could foreshadow fatal outcomes.
The ABS report also analysed recorded assaults and sexual assaults:
In most states and territories, including New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, there was an increase in assaults related to domestic and family violence between 2018 and 2019.
More than two in three victims of DFV-related assault in 2019 were female (this varied among states/territories, ranging from 66% in New South Wales to 80% in the Northern Territory). The most common perpetrator of these assaults was her intimate partner.
Females were sexually assaulted at six times the rate of males.
In most states and territories, the most common perpetrator of the sexual assault was the victim’s/survivor’s intimate partner.
NEW FOURTH ACTION PLAN STUDY
Examining the impacts of sexual violence on women’s health
A new ANROWS research project will explore 25 years of data about Australian women’s health to determine the prevalence of sexual violence and its impact on women’s health and wellbeing.
The project will use data collected by the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), a national, population-based survey of over 57,000 Australian women.
The research team aims to better understand the prevalence of sexual violence throughout women’s lives, including sexual abuse experienced in childhood and adulthood, and perpetrated both inside and outside an intimate relationship.
This will improve our understanding of how experiences of sexual violence act as a risk factor for other experiences of violence at different stages of a woman’s life. It will also clarify the impact those experiences subsequently have on women’s health, use of health services, and socio-economic status over time.
The study is part of a program of research led by ANROWS and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. The project is due to release its findings in July 2022.
NEW FOURTH ACTION PLAN STUDY
The experiences and service needs of victims/survivors and perpetrators
A new ANROWS research project aims to gain deeper insight into how women and children experience abuse, and their service needs. It will also investigate the experiences and service needs of perpetrators.
Past studies of what women need from services and how they experience them have tended to be small-scale and limited. This large-scale, national study aims to provide much-needed population-wide information. The study will be conducted with the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Melbourne.
Researchers will gain deeper insights into the various ways that women and their children experience different tactics and patterns of abuse. It will also allow them to make recommendations to improve services and systems to ensure tailored responses.
The experiences of women from different backgrounds will be explored, including culturally and linguistically diverse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, rural and socio-economically disadvantaged women.
The study will also explore the experiences and service needs of perpetrators, whose perspectives have so far been largely neglected in research.
This study is part of a program of research led by ANROWS and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.
Invisible practices: Working with fathers who use violence
1–2pm AEST, Wednesday 22 July
Women and children living with violence can experience inconsistent responses from different service systems.
While domestic and family violence services often focus on supporting them to separate from men who use violence, the family law system generally allows contact between parents who use violence and their children.
Join ANROWS and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) for a webinar exploring how all-of-family approaches can help to address these differences between service systems, and the need to work with men who use violence. Please read the case study before the webinar, as the presenters will refer to it during the session.
This webinar will build on the learnings from Sadie’s story , a previous webinar from ANROWS and AIFS that highlighted one woman’s challenges within a fragmented system. This webinar excerpt includes a role play, demonstrating the practice skill of ‘partnering as a default position’ for working with survivors of domestic violence.
Catch up on past webinars
Have you missed some of our recent great discussions with researchers and practitioners? All of our webinars have been recorded and are being made available online.
Now available on demand:
Research has found that the domestic and family violence (DFV) service system is fragmented and creates challenges for women, while interventions with perpetrators of DFV need to also consider women’s safety. This webinar will explore steps to addressing the fragmented system and bringing together the provision of support with perpetrator interventions, including interagency collaboration and integrated response approaches.
Focusing on an integrated model introduced in South Australia in 2010, this webinar explores how an integrated response model works in practice, and the ongoing challenges of this approach.
New practice studios open for expressions of interest
WorkUP Queensland is excited to announce that the second round of practice studios is open for expressions of interest. Practice studios are implementation projects that apply new and emerging research in practice.
Five new topics for implementation have been selected in response to needs identified through consultation with the sector. They include specialist responses to complex trauma, supporting and engaging with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds, and strategies to improve perpetrator interventions.
Visit https://workupqld.org.au/practice-studios/ to find out more about the selected topics, and to learn how your organisation can become a practice studio host. WorkUP Queensland is accepting expressions of interest until 5pm, 14 August, 2020.
WorkUP Queensland is funded by the Queensland Government and delivered through a partnership between The Healing Foundation and ANROWS.
DID YOU KNOW?
Using the ANROWS Library
Conducting research? Looking for evidence on a particular topic? Have a look at our very own ANROWS Library.
This resource offers much more than ANROWS research reports: it contains one of the largest collections of research and resources relevant to the domestic and family violence and violence against women sector.
You can access the ANROWS Library using the link below, or via the main menu of our website: just hover over “KTE Resources” then select “ANROWS Library”
If you have any queries about using the ANROWS Library, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Impact of COVID-19 on domestic and family violence and front-line workers
A team of researchers from the QUT Centre for Justice, Queensland University of Technology are conducting a national survey which aims to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on domestic and family violence and front-line workers and their clients in Australia.
Those who are working in or users of a wide range of services, including housing, NGO, family support and community services, are invited to participate. You can access the survey here.
New resources and reports
From Women with Disabilities Victoria:
Books and reports
Atkinson J. (2020). Symptom as History, Culture as Healing: Incarcerated Aboriginal Women’s Journeys Through Historic Trauma and Recovery Processes. In K. Wale, P. Gobodo-Madikizela, J. Prager (eds) Post-Conflict Hauntings. Palgrave Studies in Compromise after Conflict. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham.
Nada, I. (2020). Domestic and Family Violence and Associated Correlates among Muslims in Australia. In B. Anisah & M. Mitchell (Eds.), Working With Muslim Clients in the Helping Professions (pp. 155-185). Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global.
Rowlands, J. (2020). Reviewing domestic homicide—international practice and perspectives
You can access this list and all the other articles in Notepad in the ANROWS Library.
Alderton, A., Henry, N., Foster, S., & Badland, H. (2020). Examining the relationship between urban liveability and gender-based violence: A systematic review. Health & Place, 64.
Cameron, J., Humphreys, C., Kothari, A., & Hegarty, K. (2020). Exploring the knowledge translation of domestic violence research: A literature review. Health & Social Care in the Community.
FitzPatrick, K. M., Brown, S., Hegarty, K., Mensah, F., & Gartland, D. (2020). Physical and Emotional Intimate Partner Violence and Women’s Health in the First Year After Childbirth: An Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication.
Ibrahim, N. (2020). Experiences of Abused Muslim Women with the Australian Criminal Justice System. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication.
Lamb, K., Humphreys, C., & Hegarty, K. (2020). Research ethics in practice: challenges of using digital technology to embed the voices of children and young people within programs for fathers who use domestic violence. Research Ethics.
Meyer, S., & Williamson, H. (2020). General and specific perceptions of procedural justice: Factors associated with perceptions of police and court responses to domestic and family violence. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology. Advance online publication.
Minto, K., Masser, B. M., & Louis, W. R. (2020). Identifying Nonphysical Intimate Partner Violence in Relationships: The Role of Beliefs and Schemas. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Signorelli, M., Taft, A., Gartland, D., Hooker, L., McKee, C., MacMillan, H., … Hegarty, K. (2020). How Valid is the Question of Fear of a Partner in Identifying Intimate Partner Abuse? A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Four Studies. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
In the media
$3 Million Boost For Family Violence Support—Office of Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston
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