These days, most people know that it’s good to have an intersectional approach to social problems. Most people probably also know that intersectionality is about recognising that some groups of people have a harder time than other groups, and that not all problems affect everyone with equal severity. But there’s so much more to intersectionality than that, and it’s a useful concept to get to grips with when thinking about family violence.
I recently submitted my PhD on family violence in Victoria. Family violence is mainly perpetrated by men against women, but includes violence between all family members and also harms to children.
One of the most common things we hear about this problem in Victoria is that “family violence doesn’t discriminate”. What people mean when they say this is that family violence happens in families from many different types of backgrounds – rich and poor, white and non-white, queer and straight. But that’s also a bit misleading, because although it can happen everywhere and to anyone, family violence is more severe in some sections of society. For example, Indigenous women and their children in Australia and beyond experience extremely high rates of family violence, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous men. Women with disability, trans and gender non-conforming people, and people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds also face higher rates of violence.
An intersectional approach to family violence affecting these groups of people recognises that oppressive structures such as gender, colonialism and racism interact with each other to set the social context for disadvantage and inequality. This affects how people experience violence, and also the circumstances that surround perpetration. Structures also interact to throw up unique barriers to help-seeking among people affected by violence (see here, p. 281-2).
SOURCE: Ellie malbon. “Family Violence may not Discriminate, but the Impacts are Unequally felt: Why an Intersectional Approach Matters.” The Power to Persuade, February 26, 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia