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Redefining Domestic Violence: @SWSCMedia Debate


Image Courtesy of http://www.dvrc-or.org/ Domestic Violence Resource Centre

Domestic violence is widespread and its effects are pervasive. Practice and research in domestic violence have resulted in a greater appreciation of the complexities in understanding how domestic violence impacts individuals. In many instances, domestic violence is a hidden crime as it often casts its darkest shadow in the “privacy of personal relationships”, with power, coercion, and domination being at the very heart of its dynamics.

Systematic alienation and isolation are common tactics deployed by perpetrators of domestic violence and lay the foundation for other forms of abuse. This alienation of the survivor(s) is achieved and imposed through various strategies for systematic coercion and control, and contributes to other forms of abuse that permeate the lives of the survivor(s) of domestic violence. This ‘web of control’ is often sustained by multiple barriers and ‘walls of exclusion’ represented by a combination of psychological, social, economic, physical, cultural, and other obstacles that are constructed as “formidable” and escape from which seems extremely difficult if not impossible.

Given the complexities of domestic violence, many have wanted coercive control to be included in its’ definition and therefore, view the UK government’s expanded definition/redefinition of domestic violence as a welcomed step in the right direction. This redefinition also includes specific mention of young people between 16-24; this is another important aspect of the extended definition of domestic violence since as indicated by the British Crime Survey, individuals between 16-24 years of age are more likely to suffer abuse from a partner than any other age range.

It is important to note that the new extended definition of domestic violence is not a legal/statutory definition; It is rather an expression of government policy. Controlling behaviour is defined as: “ a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.”

While ‘coercive behaviour’ is defined as “an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

This definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and it is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. The previous definition also included these aspects.

Therefore in tonight’s debate we will examine:

  1. What is “Coercive control” and what is the implication of including this in definition of domestic violence?
  2. What are the implications of this extended definition for survivor(s) of domestic violence?
  3. What impact will the new definition have on frontline services, police, social workers, social care workers, domestic violence advocates etc.?
  4. Is this definition an improvement of the previous 2004 definition?
  5. How will this new definition contribute to a wider understanding of domestic violence?
  6. Are there any unexpected negative aspects or negative outcomes associated with this extended definition?
  7. How will this new definition impact society and societal views of domestic violence?

In today’s debate we will aim to explore these and other relevant questions in relation with domestic violence.

So join us & share you view on “Redefining Domestic Violence” today at 8:00 PM UK  / 3:00 PM ET / 12:00 noon PT  @SWSCMedia

Additional information:

Additional, please find both definitions included below and for further reading you may want to view the consultation document Cross Government Definition of Domestic Violence.

The 2004 definition defined domestic violence as:

‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse [psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional] between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of  gender or sexuality’.

The above definition is not a legal/statutory definition and was intended to create a shared understanding based on a single definition of domestic violence across government services/sectors.

The new definition of domestic violence and abuse now states:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: “an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

Join us & share your views on “Redefining Domestic Violence” on Tuesday (25 Sept.) 8:00 PM UK / 3:00 ET / 12:00 noon PT @SWSCmedia.

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