Varieties of harm: The experiences of men who are domestically violent.

Stream: Working With Men/ Perpetrators to Address Violence against Women
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 3.15 pm – 5.00 pm


This paper examines men's accounts of domestic violence and its impact on family life. Quantitative and qualitative data gathered from in-depth interviews with 17 Australian men participating in a men's behaviour change program is the research base for this paper. The study found that men's fathering varied and posed significant yet different risks to women, children and young people. Variations were particularly evident when comparing narratives of masculinity with perceptions of control over their use of domestic violence. Other aspects of men's identities such as class, culture and health intersected with gender and contributed to the diversity of harmful fathering practices. Exposure to domestic violence in combination with exposure to a range of harmful partnering and fathering practices placed women, children and young people at risk of significant harm. The paper will consider factors that intersect and contribute to a range of harmful fathering practices amongst domestically violent men in order to use this knowledge to develop interventions underpinned by principles of social justice and gender equity. Such interventions would spotlight the substantive issue of men's domestic violence and its impact on all aspects of family life, rather than current practices which frequently focus on women and their mothering practices.


Susan Heward-Belle (Presenter), University of Sydney
Dr Susan Heward-Belle is a lecturer in Social Work and Policy Studies at the University of Sydney, NSW. She has over twenty years experience working in the child wellbeing and protection area. Susan has a particular interest in examining socially just interventions that assist women and children who experience domestic violence. She has recently completed a PhD examining the fathering experiences and practices of domestically violent men.