Predictors for intimate partner violence: Risk or vulnerability?

Dr Romy Winter  

1Teaching Fellow, Police Studies.  Research Fellow, Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania

The increase in focus on violence amongst current or former partners reveals a chronic problem characterised by a complex set of social and individual determinants.  This presentation examines the current thinking about risk factors for perpetrator escalation of intimate partner violence as well as looking at victim vulnerabilities which exacerbate the risk of lethal assault. As no individual factor can explain more than small proportions of risk or vulnerability, we need to find frameworks that embrace complexity.  This presentation identifies factors which present the likely catalysts for intimate partner homicide and discuss how a multilateral model might be useful for screening and risk assessment.

 

Biography

Dr Rosmarie (Romy) Winter is an experienced researcher with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies and teaches victimology in the Police Studies program at the University of Tasmania.  Her research interests include criminal justice responses to intimate partner violence, “social problems” policy analysis/evaluation and the sociology of gender in relation to the workforce.  Romy has a decade of experience in evaluating programs targeting vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations including parenting programs for at-risk families; young people on bail; Aboriginal men and boys in the criminal justice system and women with marginal attachment to the workforce.

Aggravating or mitigating? The impact of alcohol involvement on family violence incident outcomes recorded by police

C. McDonald1*, M. Millsteed2

1 Research Officer, Crime Statistics Agency
2 Manager, Crime Statistics Agency

*corresponding author: cleave.mcdonald@crimestatistics.vic.gov.au

Existing evidence suggests that alcohol is involved in more than a third of incidents of serious violence against women. A significant body of research has established that there is a complex relationship between alcohol use and family violence, and that alcohol may increase the risk of violence occurring and the seriousness of violent incidents. Some limited evidence also exists to suggest that the involvement of alcohol may influence the attributions made by perpetrators, victims, witnesses, law enforcement officers, and judicial officers, about blame and responsibility in family violence situations. However, evidence about the directions of these attributions and how they impact on criminal justice decision making and severity of penalties is mixed.

This study therefore seeks to begin to address these inconsistencies through exploratory analysis of a sample of police-recorded family violence incidents. It aims to determine:

  • how many family violence incidents recorded by police involve noted alcohol use by either the perpetrator or the victim
  • how many of these incidents result in an offence being recorded by police, compared with incidents that do not involve alcohol use
  • where an offence is recorded, how many result in an arrest versus another outcome, and does this differ for incidents where alcohol is involved compared with those where alcohol is not involved.

Biography

Cleave McDonald is a Research Officer at the Crime Statistics Agency.  Her experience includes a range of quantitative and qualitative research projects within state government, Victoria Police and Monash University.

Melanie Millsteed is the Manager of Research and Evaluation at the Crime Statistics Agency.  She has previously worked in a range of research and evaluation roles across various federal and state government agencies, where she conducted several large scale, multi-agency evaluations of criminal justice programs incorporating both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Family violence that does not involve intimate partners: what do we know about it and how do we support victims

J. Putt*, R. Holder

1 School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, University of New England
2 Griffith Institute of Criminology, Griffith University

*corresponding author: jputt@une.edu.au

Released this year the review of domestic and family violence (DFV) deaths in the Australian Capital Territory included the recommendation that a working group identify appropriate service responses, referral pathways and gaps to respond to family violence that is not intimate partner violence (DVPC 2016). The review highlighted an issue that faces DFV services across Australia. Although many jurisdictions have broad legislative definitions for domestic and family violence, our services and system responses are essentially focused on intimate partner violence. This is understandable given that the majority of incidents and clients are recorded by services as being victims of intimate partner violence. However, a significant minority of victims’ experience other forms of DFV, as demonstrated by 10 years of national DFV homicide data (Cussen and Bryant 2015). The paper will present some data from an evaluation of the Alice Springs Integrated Response to DFV project, which underlines how ‘invisible’ family violence is because of the system and service focus on intimate partner violence. The paper will conclude by posing questions about how we can better respond to and support victims of the multiple forms of family violence, whilst not taking away from efforts to continue to improve and consolidate our responses to intimate partner violence.

Biography

Dr Putt has recently completed a major research project funded by the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) on Indigenous women and women’s family and domestic violence services. Last year she was part of the team that completed the evaluation of the Alice Springs Integrated Response to Family and Domestic Violence project.  With post-graduate degrees in anthropology and criminology, Dr Putt has undertaken and published research on a wide range of subjects, including violence against women, missing persons, crime in the fishing industry, people trafficking, and substance misuse.

Policing family violence: What do we know and where do we go?

Christine Bond1*, Eve Buzawa2, Janet Ransley2

1 Griffith University
2 University of Massachusetts-Lowell
3 Griffith University

*corresponding author: c.bond@griffith.edu.au

The evidence-base for developing effective policing strategies in response to family violence remains limited, especially in Australia. Predominately from the United States, research on policing responses largely focuses on mandatory arrest policies. In the Australian context, there are two key issues: responding to family violence-related calls; and responding to breaches of domestic violence protection orders. Using available empirical evidence, this paper explores issues raised in the policing of calls and breaches. In particular, it identifies what we know and where our research needs to go.

Biography

Dr Christine Bond is currently a senior lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and a member of the Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University. Her research focuses on decision-making in the criminal justice system, with a particular emphasis on courts and sentencing, legal responses to family violence, and youth justice.

Policing family violence: What do we know and where do we go?

Christine Bond1*, Eve Buzawa2, Janet Ransley2

1 Griffith University
2 University of Massachusetts-Lowell
3 Griffith University

*corresponding author: c.bond@griffith.edu.au

The evidence-base for developing effective policing strategies in response to family violence remains limited, especially in Australia. Predominately from the United States, research on policing responses largely focuses on mandatory arrest policies. In the Australian context, there are two key issues: responding to family violence-related calls; and responding to breaches of domestic violence protection orders. Using available empirical evidence, this paper explores issues raised in the policing of calls and breaches. In particular, it identifies what we know and where our research needs to go.

Biography

Dr Christine Bond is currently a senior lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and a member of the Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University. Her research focuses on decision-making in the criminal justice system, with a particular emphasis on courts and sentencing, legal responses to family violence, and youth justice.

Intersectionality in the courtroom: Observations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in Queensland’s Supreme Courts and District Courts

Marisela Velazquez

James Cook University

It has been well established that both Indigenous women and non-Indigenous women involved in crime generally meet criteria for low socioeconomic status (Bartels, 2010). A common explanation for women who are involved in crime, regardless of indigeneity, is socioeconomic status. However, differences in education, skill and income are rarely the only factors submitted for the court to consider in sentencing. Instead I argue that key domains which intersect during court processes from arraignment to sentence matters are constructs of femininity based on race and the different weight placed in the factors that are submitted to the court.

This paper details how socioeconomic status, race, and gender are layered and nuanced in the higher courts. I use observational research in courtrooms and apply intersectionality as a framework for the analysis of understanding how gender and race are affected by court practices in Queensland’s Supreme Courts and District Courts. In particular, I focus on how gender and race interact with class when mitigating and aggravating factors are submitted to the court. My findings suggest that white women are often viewed as victims of male oppression, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are treated paternalistically. These unfortunate circumstances in particular point to the courts ignoring and denying Indigenous women’s agency in different ways. A challenge for criminology is to consider these intersections more carefully and critically, while avoiding reductionism and single-issue research.

Key words: observation research, court observations, intersectionality, feminist criminology

Intersectionality in the courtroom: Observations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in Queensland’s Supreme Courts and District Courts

Marisela Velazquez

James Cook University

It has been well established that both Indigenous women and non-Indigenous women involved in crime generally meet criteria for low socioeconomic status (Bartels, 2010). A common explanation for women who are involved in crime, regardless of indigeneity, is socioeconomic status. However, differences in education, skill and income are rarely the only factors submitted for the court to consider in sentencing. Instead I argue that key domains which intersect during court processes from arraignment to sentence matters are constructs of femininity based on race and the different weight placed in the factors that are submitted to the court.

This paper details how socioeconomic status, race, and gender are layered and nuanced in the higher courts. I use observational research in courtrooms and apply intersectionality as a framework for the analysis of understanding how gender and race are affected by court practices in Queensland’s Supreme Courts and District Courts. In particular, I focus on how gender and race interact with class when mitigating and aggravating factors are submitted to the court. My findings suggest that white women are often viewed as victims of male oppression, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are treated paternalistically. These unfortunate circumstances in particular point to the courts ignoring and denying Indigenous women’s agency in different ways. A challenge for criminology is to consider these intersections more carefully and critically, while avoiding reductionism and single-issue research.

Key words: observation research, court observations, intersectionality, feminist criminology

A critical discourse analysis of New Zealand sentencing decisions in cases where women kill in the context of intimate partner abuse

M. Leask*

Victoria University of Wellington, 

*corresponding author: Marita.Leask@vuw.ac.nz

This paper presents a feminist critical discourse analysis of 20 sentencing decisions of cases where a woman has killed in the context of intimate partner abuse in New Zealand from 1994 to the present. This area of the law is striking both for the constructions of intimate partner abuse victimisation and for recent indications of a trend for greater judicial leniency stirred by a 2016 Law Commission Report. The Law Commission Report argued that the existing law poorly serves primary victims of family violence who commit homicide and recommended legal and social changes. Prior to 2015, there is only one example of a home detention conviction for manslaughter in this sample. In contrast, two sentencing decisions from 2016 imposed home detention sentences. One of the 2016 cases explicitly references the Law Commission work and constructs the defendant in a more sympathetic light as a result.  Nonetheless, alongside depictions of these defendants as victims and as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, many of the women in the sample were constructed as mutual aggressors or the violent party and histories of intimate partner abuse victimisation were often not accorded much weight. A genealogy of discursive constructions in these sentencing decisions illuminates debates about the nature of intimate partner abuse, gendered violence and victimisation.

Biography

Marita Leask is currently undertaking her PhD in Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington on the topic of juridical and media constructions of women who kill in the context of intimate partner abuse. Her research interests include intimate partner abuse, family violence, abortion, critical discourse analysis, feminist theory and media analysis.

A critical discourse analysis of New Zealand sentencing decisions in cases where women kill in the context of intimate partner abuse

M. Leask*

Victoria University of Wellington, 

*corresponding author: Marita.Leask@vuw.ac.nz

This paper presents a feminist critical discourse analysis of 20 sentencing decisions of cases where a woman has killed in the context of intimate partner abuse in New Zealand from 1994 to the present. This area of the law is striking both for the constructions of intimate partner abuse victimisation and for recent indications of a trend for greater judicial leniency stirred by a 2016 Law Commission Report. The Law Commission Report argued that the existing law poorly serves primary victims of family violence who commit homicide and recommended legal and social changes. Prior to 2015, there is only one example of a home detention conviction for manslaughter in this sample. In contrast, two sentencing decisions from 2016 imposed home detention sentences. One of the 2016 cases explicitly references the Law Commission work and constructs the defendant in a more sympathetic light as a result.  Nonetheless, alongside depictions of these defendants as victims and as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, many of the women in the sample were constructed as mutual aggressors or the violent party and histories of intimate partner abuse victimisation were often not accorded much weight. A genealogy of discursive constructions in these sentencing decisions illuminates debates about the nature of intimate partner abuse, gendered violence and victimisation.

Biography

Marita Leask is currently undertaking her PhD in Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington on the topic of juridical and media constructions of women who kill in the context of intimate partner abuse. Her research interests include intimate partner abuse, family violence, abortion, critical discourse analysis, feminist theory and media analysis.

New horizons for victims of intimate partner violence offences in Indigenous sentencing courts

E. Marchetti 

Griffith University, Griffith Law School

For approximately fifteen years, Indigenous sentencing courts have been providing an avenue for Indigenous offenders, communities, and in some cases, victims, to have a greater voice in a sentencing process.  Elders or Community Representatives work together with a judicial officer in understanding an offender’s behaviour, and in determining what penalty should be imposed to not only punish the offender but to assist in their rehabilitation.  In all jurisdictions apart from Victoria, breaches of family and domestic violence orders can be referred for sentencing in an Indigenous sentencing court.  Koori Court legislation in Victoria currently excludes breaches of intervention orders on the advice of the Statewide Working Group that initially established the Koori Courts, due to the complexity of such matters and the likelihood that they would not be able to be resolved in a collaborative manner. Feminist legal scholars have argued that the presence of gendered power imbalances in hearings concerning family and domestic violence make alternative justice processes, that are often less formal than a conventional justice process, unsuitable for victim participation. Despite these views research has found that Indigenous sentencing courts, while not well equipped to eradicate the presence of power imbalances between an offender and victim during a hearing, do attempt to address imbalances of power through ‘shaming’ the offender in culturally appropriate ways.  This paper focuses on the experience of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) during such hearings. Firstly, it traces the extent to which victims of family and domestic violence participate in Indigenous sentencing courts in different jurisdictions. Secondly, using data collected from 29 interviews with victims of IPV offences, it explores whether allowing victims to participate in a process that includes Indigenous cultural knowledges and values may help increase procedural fairness for those victims.

Biography

Professor Elena Marchetti is a Research Professor in the Griffith Law School, Griffith University and a member of the Griffith Criminology Institute and Law Futures Centre. Her research examines the justice experiences of Indigenous Australians in the criminal justice system, how to better accommodate the justice needs of victims of Indigenous partner violence, and what methods should be used to evaluate Indigenous-focused criminal justice processes to better reflect the Indigenous-centric nature of the programs. She was awarded an Australian Research Council, 5-year Australian Research Fellowship in 2009 and an Australian Research Council, 4-year Future Fellowship in 2014.

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