Domestic violence continues to plague Australian homes. The phenomenon is unfortunately so prevalent that, if one accepts a broader definition of violence, one would be forced to conclude that over a third of Australian women have at some point in their lives been victim to it.

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Blatant instances, such as images fathers killing their own children, have captured the public’s eye and drawn the attention to the bloody wars within households that take lives at the time when there is no military action. Different ideas have been put forward in an attempt to encompass the causes of this dangerous crime, but so far all attempts to eradicate it have been futile.

Instances of domestic violence have almost turned into staple stories of regional newspapers. The case of Joe Walker, 47, who harmed on May 19 to a woman in a de facto domestic relationship with him at Katherine is just another example of partner-to-partner violence that for the most part is directed at women because of their physical frailty as compared to men (Watt, 2005).

In this particular case the man who has already had five convictions broke the woman’s leg with a stick in two places. The consequences for the woman can be expected to be two-fold. On the one hand, she has suffered physical damage; on the other, she has experienced a psychological trauma that can result in long-lasting mental and psychological consequences.

This brings up the discussion of repercussions of domestic violence. Such family violence is not only harmful to its victims on the physical plane affecting their health. Even in case physical recovery is quick and complete, the psychological state of the victim may be permanently damaged, sometimes triggering lifelong irreversible changes.

Thus, a study by Brenda A. Miller and William R. Dones (1993) has discovered a direct link between violence and subsequent alcohol abuse in women. Their research demonstrates that violent victimization, including violence of different kinds such as parent-to-child violence in the early age, sexual abuse including touching and penetration, and partner abuse experienced later in life. According to Miller and Dones, women in alcoholism treatment programs report higher rates of severe violence from their pretreatment partners totaling 41%. This is a greater rate than the ones found in the rest of the respondents excluding women in shelters, where experience with violence is to be expected.

Page 2 Critical analysis of 4 assigned newspaper articles from a Sociological Perspective of Family Violence within Australian Families Essay

Therefore, cases of domestic violence may be more traumatic for the society than supposed before. A woman who develops an alcohol problem because of the experienced trauma is likely to be psychologically damaged for years to come, challenging the society to help her alleviate her shock.

So far only alcohol-related problems have been discussed. However, posttraumatic disorders are by far more multiple and serious. Those who experienced violence also “received significantly more diagnoses of generalised anxiety dysthymia, depression, phobias, current harmful alcohol consumption and psychoactive drug dependence than those who reported no abuse ever” as manifested by a longitudinal study involving 335 women (Gwenneth et al., 1998).  Women who have become victims of abuse have also been been found to be more prone to lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder.

These data look all the more challenging since in Australia about 23% of women in permanent relationship with a man or officially married have experienced violence of some sort (Gwenneth et al., 1998). Obviously, national health, mental health in particular is at risk since such a large proportion of its population is in risk group for becoming victims of domestic violence, a fact that may in turn trigger other disorders, including alcohol-related problems.

At present, the scale of domestic violence in Australia is a subject open to debate. Cases like the incident involving Joe Walker described in the newspaper article is one of the spectacular instances of abuse that came to the fore of public attention in the past few years.

The exact scope of this phenomenon depends in the first place on the definition of abuse and violence that will include or exclude certain kinds of behavior in this notion. Kelsey Hegarty and Gwenneth Roberts in their 1998 research tried to establish this definition and to nail down the size of what is happening.

Their literature review discovered that according to different studies, from 2.1% to 28% of women experienced partner abuse in the past 12 months (Hegarty, Roberts 1998). Even at the lower end, 2.1%, partner abuse is happening on a threatening proportion given the fact that numbers are given only for the period of one year.

Depending on the number of years an average woman spends in marriage or de-facto partnership, this number can be multiplied to show the true size of partner violence against women. Surely, one has to take into consideration that some women suffer multiple instances of domestic violence while others are not really confronted with it at any point in their lives.

Anyway, the scope of the problem is menacing since according to some data up to one third of women become victims of partner abuse. To this one should add parent-to-child abuse suffered in childhood and other variants of violence, including that from strangers. As a result, women are in a risk group for alcoholic abuse and mental disorders, including posttraumatic syndrome.

Prevalence of violence in a domestic environment re-shapes the notion of a woman’s social environment and leaves impact on the woman’s realization of her role in society and social identity. The landscape of a woman’s social life is changed by domestic violence even in case she never confronts it herself, since its prevalence makes male partners aware that other men do it and convinces them that a non-abusive partner is a boon in itself.

Besides, the constant risk of being abused adds a new factor to the woman’s perception of her family life, alerting her to the fact that violence can be regarded as acceptable by her plausible or actual partner.

Another problem that often blocks anti-violence actions is that law enforcement agencies are often at a loss on how they have to handle delicate family matters and refrain from interference in what they consider private matters. Indeed, sometimes a more prolonged investigation is needed before the police can arrive at the conclusion as to what they should do next.

Thus, in the case of Phithak Kongsom who committed suicide after murdering his two children and his wife’s father on September 15, 2003, at Wilberforce, the police left him with an opportunity to get back to the home where the murders were committed and stab himself (Jakobsen 2005).

The wife’s sister complained of “a systemic aversion to dealing with the domestic violence issue within the police force” (Jakobsen 2005). The police responded by justifying their actions, although admitting the need for better recruitment and training.

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