Reproductive Coercion and Abuse – the most intimate of intimate partner violence
Miss Stephanie Komazec1
1Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, 3336
Reproductive Coercion and Abuse (RCA) constitutes the deliberate removal and control of another person’s reproductive autonomy and decision making. RCA research has tended to focus on health perspectives, and there has been very little examination of the issue through a criminological lens.
RCA is a form of coercive behaviour which can lead to notable individual, social, economic and community harms, including forced parenting with a violent partner; diminished ability to leave an unsafe relationship; heightened risk of an escalation of violence and abuse; social and economic inequality; trauma and psychological effects; and the potential for reproductive health issues. At present, RCA does not appear to be sufficiently recognised as a form of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV).
This paper reports the progress of current doctoral research which is applying a zemiological and intersectional feminist framework to examine responses to RCA by DFV support agencies and practitioners. The study is seeking to develop recommendations to help DFV organisations to identify and respond to victim-survivors experiencing RCA. The research is focusing on the Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania, and includes an examination of current DFV legislation, an analysis of DFV data derived from Australian statistical agencies and specialist DFV organisations, and in-depth interviews with a sample of specialist DFV support practitioners.
Early findings have revealed that RCA is not formally recognised as a form of DFV in these two jurisdictions. There is limited acknowledgment and no clear definition of RCA. A number of recommendations are already emerging from this study. As the interviews progress, further learning is expected to support the development of a best practice framework for DFV support agencies and practitioners, and strengthen understanding of and responses to RCA from a criminological and legal perspective.
Stephanie Komazec is a family violence crisis support worker in Victoria, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science and Bachelor of Criminology with Honours. Currently, she is undertaking a Criminology PhD at Deakin University, in Victoria, Australia. She is examining specialist family violence agency and practitioner responses to reproductive coercion and abuse. Her research interests include family violence and gender-based violence.