This release presents information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS).
The survey collected detailed information from men and women about their experiences of violence since the age of 18, as well as experiences of current and previous partner violence, stalking, physical and sexual abuse and harassment, abuse before the age of 15, and general feelings of safety.
Approximately 50% of women ‘who had children in their care when they experienced violence by a current partner reported that the children had seen or heard the violence’. Further, almost 70% of women who had children in their care when they ‘experienced violence by a previous partner reported that the children had seen or heard the violence’. Further, approximately 60% of men ‘who had children in their care when they experienced violence by a previous partner reported that the children had seen or heard the violence’. See Tables 17-18 for further detail.Around one quarter of male and female victims who experienced emotional abuse had the abuser threaten to take their child/children away from them, and around one quarter of female victims and 40% of male victims had the abuser lie to their children with the intent of turning their children against them (see Table 28).
This article reports on the findings from the analysis of data from two national online surveys (one for adults and one for children), which collected quantitative data and also allowed for qualitative comments about family violence and its impact on parenting and parenting arrangements. The study included adults and children who had separated after 1995 and after the introduction of the Family Law (Shared Parental Responsibility) Amendment Act (Cth) in 2006. The researchers gained the views of a total of 1,153 adults (90%) and children (10%). Some key findings:
This comprehensive state of knowledge paper is the first of a three part mixed-methods research project addressing parenting and abuse tactics. This paper presents the current state of knowledge on parenting in the context of DFV by examining the following four research questions:
This review identifies that DFV may impact negatively on women and children and the parenting capacity of both perpetrators and victims is affected. Altered mother--child relationships may occur due to deliberate undermining of the mother’s parenting, and children are often used by perpetrators as tools to abuse mothers and exert control and coercion (p 2).
The report points out that violence does not end when couples separate. It specifically identifies the legal system as a tool of abuse used by perpetrators, and that poor understanding by legal professionals can heighten the risks for women and children (p 2).
Although there is limited information on the parenting style of abusive fathers, abusive men as fathers have been characterised by researchers and victims as authoritarian, under-involved, self-centred and manipulative. These men also engage in high levels of substance abuse. Children exposed to partner violence in the home by their father/stepfather are at heightened risk of child maltreatment including child sexual abuse (p 2).
The report suggests that supportive care includes improved understanding and collaboration between child protection, family law, and domestic violence advocacy services (p 2).
The report also identified issues with forced contact through court:
The following summarises the key aspects of this paper:
This paper responds to a challenge that has continued to frustrate workers attempting to intervene to support women and children living with domestic and family violence (DFV) – that the DFV intervention system (in the specialist women’s DFV sector and statutory child protection) is structured around women and their children separating from men who use violence. However, many women and children may not be in a position to separate from their abusive and violent partners, and some women and children’s wellbeing and safety may not be enhanced by separation.
The paper explored these questions by conducting a review of existing literature:
This review demonstrates that there is a paucity of evidence for effective approaches for responding to DFV in families where the perpetrator remains in the home or in regular contact with women and children. There are, however, a number of practices developing in these areas: nurse home visits; restorative justice approaches; couple counselling; statutory child protection investigations; and interventions with vulnerable families/whole of family approaches. All urge caution and all recommend a priority on training workers, and only ever bringing men and women together under certain circumstances and with strict caveats. This is necessary if work is to be effective and not inadvertently escalate danger and/or collude with the power and controlling tactics of the perpetrator of violence.
ConclusionsThere is some experimentation with interventions in these complex family situations, and some early signs of success. The challenges of working with the diverse nature of fathers who use violence are significant. Nevertheless, this may prove to be an important practice development for future DFV intervention.
The 2012 amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cmth) ‘were intended to support increased disclosure of concerns about family violence and child abuse, and to support changed approaches to making parenting arrangements where these issues are pertinent to ensuring safer parenting arrangements for children.
The Court Outcomes Project examined the effects of these 2012 reforms on court filings, patterns in court-based parenting matters and the judicial interpretation of key legislative provisions introduced by the amendments’ (p vii).
The report contains numerous statistical comparisons of the situation pre- and post-reform. It identified that allegations of family violence or child abuse have been raised more frequently since the 2012 reforms. This increase in disclosure of family violence and child abuse was a key intent of the reforms. The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility is not applicable where concerns about family violence or child abuse exist (p xii). Therefore, a decrease in the number of orders for equal shared parental responsibility in the context of family violence or child abuse is consistent with the aim of the 2012 reforms.
A detailed overview of the prevalence of family violence allegations in family court proceedings after the amendments is provided from p 43. 36% of cases after the 2012 amendments involved allegations of family violence, compared with 26% pre-reform. The prevalence of allegations of both physical and emotional abuse also increased after the reforms, but this was more marked for physical violence.
The proportion of allegations made against both parents also increased (p 43). Other statistical interpretations of this data, such as the prevalence of family violence allegations after the reforms according to the way the matters were resolved (p 45) are provided.
An overview of factual issues raised (particularly how factual issues changed following the reforms) is provided from p 46. It is noted that issues such as substance abuse and mental ill health are ‘not uncommon’ for parents who use family law services (p 47).
Parental capacity is discussed in section 4.5 (p 89).
Building on findings of the Survey of Recently Separated Parents 2012, the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families, and the 2009 AIFS Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms, this report examines the impacts of changes to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in the area of family law and has three parts:
the Court Outcomes Project (CO Project) involving:
This article discusses adolescent-to-parent abuse (APA), varied forms of abusive behaviour perpetrated by a child toward a parent (p 490). Mothers are more likely to be victims of APA than fathers (p 490), and correlations have been identified between APA and abusive behaviours within a young person’s dating relationships (p 491). As a distinct form of abuse, it is not necessarily appropriate to approach APA within a traditional domestic violence framework (p 496). Responding to APA raises issues separate from youth crime and domestic and family violence more broadly:
This Canadian paper is easily navigated by internal links. It reviews the literature and identifies and discusses seven central themes that highlight the intersection between domestic violence and parenting. These issues are: