The FUTI (Facing Up To It) project developed from issues and concerns raised by community members and service providers. These issues include child protection / keeping children safe in Clarence Plains and challenging family violence.
The Aim of FUTI
To create a holistic community response to the issues of family violence and keeping children safe by working together with community members and services to:
- Increase community awareness
- Promote the development of healthy relationships
- Develop skills
- Create opportunities
- The ongoing recruitment and training of community members as First Contact People
- Ongoing support of First Contact People through regular network/debriefing meetings
- Working collaboratively with all local schools/services/agencies to explore creative ways to engage and encourage young people’s awareness around safety and family violence
- Community activities that provide opportunities to raise awareness, promote information and build relationships
- Development of promotional materials
- information on emergency contact numbers and other useful services.
Domestic and family violence, also known as domestic violence, family violence or partner violence, is a pattern of abusive behaviour in an intimate relationship that over time puts one person in a position of power over another, and causes fear. It is often referred to as a pattern of coercion and control. Abusers are sometimes called ‘perpetrators of violence’. Domestic and family violence does not always stop when the relationship ends, so it can also occur between ex-partners.
Abusers use many tactics to maintain power and control, such as:
- Physical assaults, choking, beatings.
- Acts of sexual violence, forced sex or forcing someone to do sexual acts they don’t wish to do.
- Emotional abuse, name calling and put downs, disrespectful treatment.
- Isolation from supports, family and community, or using family and community to intimidate. This can include sending texts or posting on Facebook from someone else’s phone or account to undermine their community standing or friendships.
- Stalking or monitoring every move.
- Psychological abuse and ‘crazymaking’. This can include denying that the abusive behaviour occurred; blaming the person being abused for the behaviour; telling the person being abused that they have mental health problems or anxiety disorders; manipulating or deliberately twisting reality; moving personal belongings or furniture and then denying that this has been done (sometimes this is called ‘gaslighting’, from the movie Gaslight).
- Financial abuse, such as denying living expenses or ‘housekeeping money’; preventing someone from working; manipulating the child support system; intimidating someone to sign legal and financial documents that put them in debt; standing over someone to demand money; and humbugging.
- Preventing someone from practicing their spirituality or faith, or forcing them to adopt a faith or spirituality that is not their own.
- Harming or threatening to harm loved ones including children.
- Harming or threatening to harm pets.
- Legal abuse, such as exploiting the family law system to intimidate, exhaust, exploit or disempower someone.
Abusers can exert control in ways that are unique to each relationship. In some relationships, withholding supplies of drugs and alcohol, threatening suicide when someone tries to leave a relationship, threatening to withdraw the assistance or care required by someone who has a disability, or undermining mothering by preventing settling or breastfeeding of infants can be forms of domestic and family violence.
Risk factors and at-risk groups
Key research findings demonstrate that:
- Gender inequality is a key determinant of violence against women.
- Alcohol and drug use can lead to higher levels of aggression by perpetrators. A study found that between 2000 and 2006 44 per cent of all intimate partner homicides, and 87 per cent of Indigenous intimate partner homicides, were alcohol related.
- Past experience of violent victimisation can predict future victimisation. IVAWS found that women who experienced abuse during childhood are one and a half times more likely to experience violence in adulthood than those who did not. People who experienced childhood sexual abuse were found to be three times more likely to experience partner violence than those who had not.
- Pregnancy may intensify the risk of domestic violence. A quarter of women who experienced partner violence since the age of 15 reported experiencing domestic violence for the first time from a previous partner while pregnant.
- Separated women are more likely to experience violence than married women, and it is most common for women to experience violence from a male ex-partner. It may be that violence follows separation, or the decision to separate is due to violence. International studies indicate that leaving a violent partner may increase the risk of more severe, or even fatal, violence.
- Young women are more likely to have recently experienced violence than older women. Researchers suggest that inexperience, age differences in relationships, and lack of access to services exacerbate younger women’s vulnerability to violence. Young men are more likely to hold pro-violence attitudes, and research indicates that pro-violence attitudes decrease with age.
- Indigenous women and their children are more likely to experience violence than any other section of society. When compared to non-Indigenous women, Indigenous women are five times more likely to be homicide victims. Rates of domestic assault reported to police are also more than six times higher for Indigenous women.
- Rural and remote areas have a higher reported incidence of domestic violence than metropolitan settings. Those who have experienced domestic violence may lack access to services, transport and telecommunications, and suffer a lack of anonymity.
- Women with disabilities are vulnerable to violence due to social and cultural disadvantage, and a greater dependence on other people for care, including, in some situations, the perpetrator of violence. Women and girls with disabilities may be twice as likely to experience violence as those without disabilities. Adults with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities are particularly at risk of sexual assault.
- Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds may lack access to culturally appropriate services, leading to lower rates of reporting. Drawing conclusions regarding domestic violence in selected CALD communities is difficult as research has produced mixed findings. Cultural values can increase the complexities normally involved in domestic violence, and immigration may cause social and cultural dislocation, intensifying domestic violence.
- Financial stress may cause, or be exacerbated by, domestic violence. While domestic violence cuts across social and economic boundaries, further research is needed to adequately analyse the relationship between domestic violence, education, employment status and income. While IVAWS found that experiences of current intimate partner violence during the previous 12 months varied little according to education, status or household income, ABS data suggests that women whose main income is from government support are at increased risk of violence from a previous partner.
- Same-sex intimate relationships may also involve domestic violence, and approximately 2 per cent of intimate partner homicides in Australia involved partners from same-sex relationships since 1989–90. Males were also overrepresented as perpetrators in same-sex intimate partner homicides.
The FUTI organizing committee would like to thank Clarence City Council for their support over the past 18 months. A funding grant from council enabled FUTI to expand their effectiveness in the community and offer a greater level of service through the running of multiple workshops and greater promotion at local community events.