(image courtesy openclipart)
By Spencer D Gear
When sporting icons hound women in pubs, abuse them with obscene phone calls, or have sex with prostitutes, they are acting like thousands of other young Aussie men. This behaviour is not restricted to professional sportsmen.
- This means that approx. 1 in 4 women has experienced domestic violence (DV), compared to 1 in 10 men.
- DV ranks in the top 5 risks to women’s health in Australia;
- 1 in 3 children has witnessed DV;
- DV costs the Australian economy over $8 billion per year;
- An Access Economics report in 2004, found that 87% of DV is committed by men against women.
What is meant by domestic violence?
Australia’s CEO Challenge, which attempts to address the issues of domestic violence, gives this definition: “Domestic violence is the use of violence by one person to control and dominate another. The term is used to describe any form of abuse that occurs in intimate personal relationships,”
DV can include the physical, sexual, psychological, social isolation, financial, intimidation and controlling abuse of men against women and women against men.
In addressing this troublesome, provocative and sometimes controversial topic of targeting male DV abusers, I have been greatly helped by the seminal work of Dr. Michael Flood of La Trobe University and Chris Laming’s development of “The SHED” project.
Causes of high incidence of male domestic violence
The Better Health Channel reports that these are the common factors:
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ perpetrator of domestic violence. However, researchers have found that men who abuse family members often:
- Use violence and emotional abuse to control their families.
- Believe that they have the right to behave in whatever way they choose while in their own home.
- Think that a ‘real’ man should be tough, powerful and the head of the household. They may believe that they should make most of the decisions, including about how money is spent.
- Believe that men are entitled to sex from their partners.
- Don’t take responsibility for their behaviour and prefer to think that loved ones or circumstances provoked their behaviour.
- Make excuses for their violence: for example, they will blame alcohol or stress.
- Report ‘losing control’ when angry around their families, but can control their anger around other people. They don’t tend to use violence in other situations: for example, around friends, bosses, work colleagues or the police.
- Try to minimise, blame others for, justify or deny their use of violence, or the impact of their violence towards women and children.
What can we do to prevent men’s abuse of women? We need to tackle this on several fronts because this intimate partner violence is caused by a variety of factors.
We face a significant hurdle. Evaluations of primary prevention strategies have been minimal. We have indications that some prevention approaches work but there are many that may be promising but not tested.
We should do all we can to
1. Increase individual knowledge and skills.
Healthy families, strong socio-economic support, and better parenting skills do help to reduce violence. This message needs spreading while support is offered to help such people.
2. Engage in community education regarding DV.
Obtaining access to children and youth in schools may have a positive impact if the education is well-designed for the age group. In my region, many parents do not know how to curb youth abuse in the home. We need creative people in the mass media who will come on board in what Michael Flood calls, “social marketing campaigns,” against male intimate violence.
3. Develop networks of men in the community?
I call on men to step forward to help in targeting groups and sub-cultures that support violence in peer groups. I challenge young men to join me in reaching the sporting sub-cultures and the youth culture where abuse may be tolerated.
4. Educate providers
There seems to be a reticence to work with male perpetrators. I would like to see a change in professional responses in the welfare community not only to deal with victims of domestic violence, but also to offer interventions for perpetrators to change their behaviour. We also need to
5. Influence policies and legislation.
Legal and policy reform is needed to deal with this horrendous problem of male violence against women. We need funding to match the need to help those of us working at the coalface.
What will men do to help prevent DV predators from exerting their power and control over women in our communities?
6. Get to understand the core of what causes domestic violence?
You won’t read this in the government’s reports, the community agencies writings, but it is at the nucleus of this problem. The secular gurus will run a country mile from this kind of explanation.
The prophet Jeremiah put it this way, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV). The greatest early promoter of the Christian message, the apostle Paul, nailed it: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The God-man who changed human history and human hearts, Jesus Christ, stated the core issue with clarity:
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person (Matthew 15:18-20).
Because the sinful human heart is at the core of the problem of evil in our society, no matter how many secular DV solutions are attempted, they will not get to solving the core DV problem. That’s because only the committed Christian can help a DV perpetrator get to the core of his problem.
For a fuller explanation, see Ron Hamman’s assessment: “A biblical view of domestic violence“.
In summary, the core problem is sin and the core solution is a changed heart through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, “Personal Safety, Australia , 2005 (Reissue), available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/cat/4906.0 [6 June 2009].
 Australia’s CEO Challenge, “What is domestic violence?” available from: http://www.ceochallengeaustralia.org/01_cms/details.asp?ID=18 [6 June 2009].
 The above details are from QCA Contact (Queensland Counsellors’ Association), June 2007, available from: http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:dtR7cKzf9wMJ:www.qca.asn.au/index.php/Download-document/17-Contact-2007-June.html+%22%E2%80%A2+DV+ranks+in+the+top+5+risks+to+women%27s+health+in+Australia%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au [6 June 2009].
 The SHED Group manual is available online at: http://www.networklearning.org/books/shedding-abuse.html [12 May 2007].
 “Domestic Violence – why men abuse women,” The Better Health Channel, available from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Domestic_violence_why_men_abuse_women?OpenDocument [6 June 2009].
Copyright © 2009 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 September 2018.