Violence and the family


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Content type
Research report

July 1982

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One of the paradoxes of our society, this paper argues, is that the group to which most of us look for love and gentleness - the family - is also the most violent civilian group or institution in our society. Aside from physical violence, there is also the emotional stress and conflict caused by verbal abuse, neglect of partner and children, and what occurs under the catch-all term of 'mental cruelty'. The paper discusses some reasons for the difficulty in ascertaining the real incidence of domestic violence in Australia. It also discusses evidence which suggests that violence occurs at all levels of society and knows no class or cultural barriers. It looks at the relationship between domestic violence and the stress imposed on families by rapid social change, unemployment, the economic vulnerability of women, alcohol, and the diet of violence provided by the mass media. It also examines the role of police and the courts in cases of reported violence.

Lecture given by Dr. Stewart to the Victorian Association for Mental Health on 12 July 1982 as one of their public lecture series on 'Mental health, violence and the community

AIFS Discussion Paper No 7


Stewart, D.E. (1982). Violence and the family (Discussion Paper No. 7). Melbourne: Institute of Family Studies.



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