The ACT Government has released three reports upon domestic and family violence. They are comprehensive complex documents which highlight the need for much greater cooperation between the many agencies addressing this serious social problem.
Please note there is nothing new about this violence. People, mainly women, have been walking into doors for years and showing the bruises of the ‘accident’. It is only recently society has, rightly, recognised the issue and sought to do something about it. These three local reports are steps in the right direction.
Worthy as these and other moves are to deal with the scourge, I have yet to see any attempt to address why this problem occurs and why it appears to be increasing.
The rise in incidents can be put down to more publicity and encouragement for victims to speak up knowing there are now avenues of assistance available. However the increase in reporting also shows the extent of the matter and we still don’t know why it occurs.
Much domestic violence arises from drug or alcohol issues, but aren’t these results rather than reasons? Do feelings of inadequacy lead (mainly males) to seek solace in these dependents thus bringing out a dark side?
But even with inadequacy we should dig deeper. Is this worthlessness because as a husband and father they cannot provide for their family as they would like to? Expectations are often so high today: home, career, future, people don’t always realise how much effort is required, even without the added encumbrances of high financial demands and young children.
Personal relationships are disappointing. The rosy courtship gives way to the reality of marriage and children before couples are either emotionally or economically on their feet. Immaturity and adjustment to changed social circumstances (not going out with the boys/girls for drinks).
Culture shock, poor housekeeping/cooking skills and an inability to handle money can feature in dissatisfaction leading to antisocial behaviour.
Power and the desire to dominate have also been cited, perhaps from workplace frustrations and cases where men believe they are downtrodden by women in general.
There may have been a realisation too that a promising future is not going to develop, that they are stuck in a dull existence, possibly explains why domestic violence takes time to develop as the situation gradually becomes clearer.
Maybe there is family history and mental health issues and how much do contemporary standards play a part, particularly as shown by impossible advertising lifestyles: the young attractive wife, handsome husband, pigeon pair children, cuddly family dog and spotless modern house – an attractive dream for vulnerable couples.
Then there is perceived neglect where the husband now finds his wife also is a mother and her priorities have changed leading to jealousy and tragedies, often in young de facto relationships.
We welcome the reports, the publicity and increased help being offered to victims but even if the examples above are part of the explanation for domestic violence we still haven’t sought and thus addressed all of the reasons why it occurs.
Pictured above is the Jacka home in which 8-year-old Bradyn Dillon was found gravely injured in February this year. The boy died of his injuries, and his father, Graham Dillon, was charged with his murder, sparking an ACT Government inquiry into system responses to family violence. Photo: Charlotte Harper