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The hidden disaster: Domestic violence in the aftermath of natural disaster



In countries similar to Australia, relationship violence increases in the wake of disasters. New Zealand police reported a 53 per cent rise in domestic violence after the Canterbury earthquake. In the US, studies documented a four-fold increase following two disasters and an astounding 98 per cent increase in physical victimisation of women after Hurricane Katrina, with authors concluding there was compelling evidence that intimate partner violence increased following large-scale disasters (Schumacher, et al., 2010). Yet there is a research gap on why this happens, and how increased violence may relate to disaster experiences. Women's Health Goulburn North East undertook the first Australian research into this phenomenon, previously overlooked in emergency planning and disaster reconstruction. Interviews with 30 women and 47 workers in Victoria after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires provided evidence of increased domestic violence, even in the absence of sound quantitative data and in a context that silenced women. Community members, police, case managers, trauma psychologists and family violence workers empathised with traumatised and suffering men-men who may have been heroes in the fires-and encouraged women to wait it out. These responses compromise the principle that women and children always have the right to live free from violence.
I Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
The possibility of increased domestic violence after
natural disaster is largely unexamined in Australia
despite Australians having a one-in-six estimated
lifetime exposure to natural disaster (McFarlane, 2005).
While debate continues as to whether disaster ‘causes
domestic violence, there is much evidence of the link
between the two. Through examination of relationships
in the aftermath of Black Saturday, this paper provides
additional evidence of this link
Overseas evidence of increased
violence after disaster
Studies in developing countries and research conducted
over the past decade in the United States and
NewZealand confirm that domestic violence increased
in those countries in the aftermath of earthquakes,
hurricanes and floods. In the US, Enarson (2012),
noted a 400percent increase in demand for women’s
shelters after the 1993 Missouri River Flood. After
Hurricane Katrina, Anastario, etal., (2009) found a four-
fold increase in intimate partner violence. In the first
population-based study after Katrina, Schumacher, etal.,
(2010) reported an astounding 98percent increase in
physical victimisation of women, concluding “the current
study provides compelling evidence that risk of [intimate
partner violence] is increased following large-scale
disasters” (p601).
Closer to home, NewZealand police reported a
53percent increase in callouts to domestic violence
incidents over the weekend of the Canterbury earthquake
on 4 September 2010 (Houghton, 2010) and after the
2004 Whakatane flood, there was a tripling of workload
for domestic violence agencies and a doubling of police
callouts (Houghton, 2009).
Australian evidence
As far back as 1992, there were indications that this
phenomenon equally happens in Australia. Such
reflections were captured in a 1992 symposium on
Women in Emergencies and Disasters held in Queensland
by the then Bureau of Emergency Services. This was
followed in 1994 by a special edition of The Macedon
Digest where three papers referred to increased
domestic violence, one stating, “An increase in domestic
violence is repeatedly found in post-disaster situations
(Honeycombe, 1994, p31). In a second article, a social
worker wrote that after the 1990 Charleville flood:
In countries similar to Australia, relationship
violence increases in the wake of disasters.
NewZealand police reported a 53percent
rise in domestic violence after the Canterbury
earthquake. In the US, studies documented
a four-fold increase following two disasters
and an astounding 98percent increase in
physical victimisation of women after Hurricane
Katrina, with authors concluding there was
compelling evidence that intimate partner
violence increased following large-scale
disasters (Schumacher, etal., 2010). Yet there
is a research gap on why this happens, and
how increased violence may relate to disaster
experiences. Women’s Health Goulburn
North East undertook the first Australian
research into this phenomenon, previously
overlooked in emergency planning and disaster
reconstruction. Interviews with 30 women
and 47 workers in Victoria after the 2009
Black Saturday bushfires provided evidence
of increased domestic violence, even in the
absence of sound quantitative data and in a
context that silenced women. Community
members, police, case managers, trauma
psychologists and family violence workers
empathised with traumatised and suffering
men—men who may have been heroes in the
fires—and encouraged women to wait it out.
These responses compromise the principle that
women and children always have the right to
live free from violence.
The hidden disaster: domestic
violence in the aftermath
of natural disaster
Debra Parkinson and Claire Zara (Women’s Health Goulburn North East) report
on the first Australian research to investigate post-disaster domestic violence.
Australian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume 28, No. 2, April 2013
Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
Human relations were laid bare and the strengths
and weaknesses in relationships came more sharply
into focus. Thus, socially isolated women became
more isolated, domestic violence increased, and
the core of relationships with family, friends and
spouses were exposed”. (Dobson, 1994, p11)
A third paper citing proceedings from a workshop in
Amsterdam in 1988 noted “women’s health and security
is not only directly affected by the direct impact of the
disaster but also by vulnerability of unchecked male
violence and aggression” (Van Lendewijk and Shordt,
1988 pp189-192, cited in Williams, 1994, p36) and
followed this with a plea to provide domestic violence
services after disasters in Queensland.
The intervening two decades in Australian emergency
management practice and theory appear to shed no
further light on either the link between domestic violence
and disaster or practical arrangements and responses.
The lack of knowledge was brought into sharp relief after
the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, when no reliable
statistics were available to document the effect of the
disaster on domestic violence occurrences (Parkinson,
etal., 2011). Neither the existing family violence
services, Victoria Police, nor the Victorian Bushfire Case
Management System could provide conclusive data,
confirming the suspicion that few researchers undertake
examining gender-based violence in disasters because it
is both methodologically and practically difficult to study
(Enarson, 2012; Jenkins and Phillips, 2008; Rosborough,
etal., 2009).
Domestic violence after
Black Saturday
The magnitude of the Black Saturday bushfires in
2009 was unprecedented since Australian settlement. It
caused 173 deaths, injury to 414 people, the destruction of
2 030 houses and subsequent relocation of 7 000 people.
The bushfires devastated whole communities, disrupted
families and dismantled individual lives. Everything
changed for survivors, and turmoil in personal
circumstances was reflected at the community level.
“I hardly recognise the place now. I look
around and I don’t know what ethos it is we
hold on to.” (Community volunteer)
After Black Saturday, there were murmurs of increased
domestic violence. It was discussed and reported by
health and community workers, recovery authorities
and community leaders. Newspaper articles, too, linked
domestic violence directly to the bushfires, quoting
credible and top-level sources including the Victorian
Bushfire Recovery and Reconstruction Authority
Chairperson (Bachelard, 10.5.09), a Church leader
(Saeed, 26.8.09), and the Clinical Psychologist Consultant
to the Victorian Disaster Recovery Plan (M. Johnston and
Mickelburough, 2010).
This article reports on the first Australian research to
investigate this issue beyond anecdote.
A note on domestic violence theory
We take the position that domestic violence is gendered
and asymmetrical (UN, 1993; VicHealth, 2011)—
essentially that domestic violence is men’s violence
against women, where “women’s violence does not
equate to men’s in terms of frequency, severity,
consequences and the victim’s sense of safety and well-
being” and is often in self-defence or retaliation (Dobash
and Dobash, 2004, p324).
The terminology of men’s violence to women is manifold,
including family violence, domestic violence, relationship
violence, intimate partner violence, spousal abuse, wife
beating and battery, amongst others. More theory-driven
definitions include ‘abusive household gender regime’
(Morris, 2009), differentiation between ‘conflict-driven’
and ‘control-initiated’ (Ellis and Stuckless, 1996, cited
in Wangmann, 2011), and Johnson’s evolving concepts
of patriarchal or intimate terrorism, common couple
violence, mutual combat and (mostly for women) violent
resistance (Debbonaire, 2008; Gondolf, 2007; Johnson,
1995; Kelly and Johnson, 2008).
Johnson’s categories were explicitly conceptualised
in an attempt to allow accurate measurement and
effective intervention by recognising different dynamics.
These were refined in 2008 to ‘coercive controlling
violence’, ‘violent resistance’, ‘situational couple
violence’, ‘separational couple violence’, ‘separation-
instigated violence’ and ‘mutual violent control’ (Kelly
and Johnson, 2008). Earlier work saw expanded
categories of ‘pathological violence’ and ‘anti-social
violence’ (Pence and Dasgupta, 2006)and motivations
identified as ‘within the perpetrator’, ‘within couple’
interactions and in relation to ‘potent stressors’
(Johnston and Campbell, 1993).
The Duluth Model, too, has been highly influential over
two decades, incorporating a ‘power and control wheel’
and hypothesising that domestic violence is a pattern of
coercion, intimidation, isolation, exploitation of children
and male privilege and emotionally and financially
abusive behaviours (Domestic Abuse Intervention Project,
n.d. circa 1993).
A typology of domestic violence, it was thought, would
allow more targeted interventions, yet each term and
theory is laden with controversy (Wangmann, 2011).
Theorists argue on grounds of confounding factors,
gender symmetry, type of male perpetrators, the
centrality of control, focus on physical violence, severity
and impact, the role of men in prevention, and research
methodology (Dutton and Corvo, 2007; Flood, 2006;
Gondolf, 1988; Gondolf, 2007; Gottman, 2001; Jacobson,
etal., 1995; Johnson, 1995; Pease, 2008; Stark, 2006,
2010; Wangmann, 2011). On-the-ground practitioners,
too, theorise on what is ‘real’ domestic violence.
When presented with evidence from this research,
local domestic violence professionals and men’s
health professionals questioned where it fitted on the
continuum (Frye, etal.,2006).
Australian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume 28, No. 2, April 2013
I Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
“You have to ask, what is behind family violence? If
it’s a traumatic state of mind, that would determine
how it would be dealt with rather than labelling
the behaviour as abusive ... You may find workers
have changed their definition of family violence to
accommodate the emotional and psychological
conditions people are experiencing.” (Counsellor)
As domestic violence practitioners, as trauma (or any
other kind of) counsellors, as police, or as researchers,
it is imperative to note there is no watering down of
domestic violence after disaster, either because it was
a one-off event or because the perpetrator had a
diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yet this
is exactly what practitioners in the field after disaster
grapple with. Johnson wrote, “Yes, all family violence
is abhorrent, but not all family violence is the same”
(1995, p293) noting that family counsellors will be
more effective if they “work with a set of interpretive
frameworks rather than with a single-minded
assumption that every case of violence fits the same
pattern” (1995, p292).
Acceptance of the difficulties involved for women
reporting violence against them by their partner (the man
they love and who is supposed to love them) is imperative
to recognising and supporting victims. Violence against
women is an abuse of human rights (AusAID Office of
Development Effectiveness, 2008; Bunch, 1990; Libal
and Parekh, 2009; UN, 1993) and this includes in a post-
disaster context where men may be suffering.
As the areas worst affected by Black Saturday fell
within the shires of Mitchell and Murrindindi in Victoria,
interviews were held with the 30 women and 47 workers
in these shires. Women were recruited through
advertisements in newspapers, flyers placed in key
community areas and through word of mouth. Worker
interviews were conducted both individually and in focus
groups. There were 38 women and nine men from the
health and community sector, churches, local and State
government, the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction
and Recovery Authority, community recovery and
case management. Levels of responsibility spanned
statewide managers to volunteers. Interviews were
digitally-recorded, transcribed, analysed inductively,
using modified Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss,
1967; Sandelowski, 2000, 2010). NVivo V.9 and V.10 were
used to assist qualitative analysis. Two researchers
attended the interviews and focus groups. Ethics
approval was granted from two human research ethics
committees (HREC) being Monash University HREC and
North East Health HREC.
This research examined the link between disaster and
increased violence against women in the Australian
context and documented women’s experiences to
contribute to a new knowledge-base and inform post-
disaster recovery.
The findings are unmistakable—domestic violence
increased after this disaster. Most workers and all 30
women spoke of increased community or domestic
“There are so many people who are being affected
after the fires with domestic violence, and so many
women who aren’t able to seek help.” (Kate1)
“One girl, I ran into her, I think it was between
Christmas and New Year, and she had a big
black eye ... just a girl I knew whose husband
works with [mine] sometimes.” (Tess)
“I have women coming here who have been
abused physically, and my friend — they’ve been
married 20 years and he assaulted her and she
had to get a restraining order on him.” (Di)
In all, 17 women spoke of being personally and badly
affected. Nine of these 17 relationships experienced
no violence before the fires and seven of these women
spoke of settled and happy relationships prior to
February 2009.
“It’s like I’m seeing this side of him that I never
knew existed ... it’s almost like a 360, this person
you’ve gone from loving, you start thinking, ‘I
don’t even know who you are mate.’’’ (Gaye)
“I really don’t know what’s going on with
my husband except that the person I
married has disappeared.” (Michelle)
Explanations for increased
domestic violence after disasters
There were immense pressures on everyone who
survived the fires as they tried to re-establish their
lives. Homelessness, unemployment and increased
alcohol and drug-use were noted by participants as
characteristic of the recovery period. Disasters are
traumatic experiences, challenging sense of self and the
safety of our world. Grief and loss accompany intense
disasters, necessarily co-existing with the financial and
bureaucratic demands of the recovery and reconstruction
phase. Increased contact between family members—
often in cramped or shared accommodation—can
increase tension.
The Black Saturday fires made it impossible for men
to live up to society’s demands of their masculinity.
Containing fireballs and controlling flames over 40
metres high was beyond human capacity. If men felt
inadequate in these conditions, it underlines the flawed
social construction of gender that expects men to have
a particular set of characteristics simply because they
are men. In everyday life, men embody different types
of ‘masculinities’ and ‘practices’ (Pease and Pringle,
2001) —as in disaster. Despite the evidence, such loss of
control threatened the male provider and protector role
(Phillips, etal., 2009).
1. False names used throughout paper.
Australian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume 28, No. 2, April 2013
Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
“‘I am a man, and I can do’ has been defeated in
so many men. Things they couldn’t do and they
couldn’t be and so much was lost.” (Madeline)
Some of the women had partners who were firefighters
at the front line of an unprecedented disaster. Their
training would not have been adequate preparation for
what they faced, and the sight of so many injured and
burned people. The stress of that day and the following
weeks of high alert is unimaginable to those who were
not there.
“They are the professional firefighters; it was their
job to stop the unstoppable. They bear the grief
and the loss and the guilt and they had all those
people die, and we knew them all ... they feel that
they were the professionals, they feel like it was
their job to stop it, they feel they failed, and they feel
their friends died because of it and I could see him
reliving those moments, where he could have done
something differently and saved a life.” (Emma)
Enarson and Phillips (2008, p51) wrote that from Peru to
Alaska, men cope using alcohol abuse and aggression.
Austin (2008), another US researcher, identified a form
of hyper-masculinity resulting from stress and loss and
leading to discord and violence in relationships:
Men are likely to have a feeling of inadequacy
because they are unable to live up to the expectations
of their socially-constructed gender role ... The
presence of these conditions unfortunately influence
higher numbers of partnered, heterosexual
men to act in violent and abusive ways toward
the women in their lives.” (Austin, 2008).
This behaviour coincides with a community attitude that
empathises and excuses. In a 2006 report on Australian
attitudes to violence against women, a large proportion
of the community believed that “domestic violence can be
excused if it results from temporary anger or results in
genuine regret” (Taylor and Mouzos, 2006).
“It was that enmeshment in community of,
‘They are the good guys who helped out with
the fire’ even though things might be happening
[like family violence].” (Social worker)
“There was violence against [one woman] ... I was
astonished when I learned of this particular instance
... I thought how odd that I didn’t know about this, even
within my own team. People were being very, very
discreet because her husband was very prominent and
a bit of a hero in the town.” (Government worker)
Such violence may even be seen as legitimate, and
excused because this is “the way men behave”
(Atkinson, 2002, p4). Our empathy in normal
circumstances is even deeper when we perceive
that men are suffering. Tolerance of bad behaviour,
through to violence, seemed to increase as men were
said to be acting “out of character”.
“I think everyone put up with stuff they never normally
would have put up with. I know a lot of the call outs
to the local police in the first 12 months weren’t
reported … Everyone was just looking after each other
and they all knew it was the fire impact.” (Libby)
“At what point do you go, ‘I’m sorry but your behaviour
is bad and I’m pointing it out to you’, instead of going,
‘Let’s not say anything ‘cos he’ll get upset.’” (Angela)
In the immediate aftermath of disasters, ‘community’ as
an entity is reified in the strong glare of media attention.
The attention of the whole country is momentarily
focussed on previously anonymous communities, and
help pours in from government, churches and the health
and community sectors. Although this community
bonding is followed by cleavage (Borrell, 2011) media
coverage is focused on resilience and the great national
spirit and the generosity of others (Enarson, 2012).
There was enormous pressure from family members,
friends, police and even health professionals to deny
or forgive men’s violence. Women spoke of seeking
help from family, only to be ignored, accused of over-
reacting, and blamed for not caring well enough for
their men. They told of inadequate response from
health professionals and inappropriate referrals. Some
women were effectively stopped from seeking support
by the person they confided in. Women reported an
expectation from some professionals that women
would be silent about it for the greater good. One
health professional said:
“So much has been justified as a result of the
fires ... so much has been fobbed off. So many
women have gone to police and been told by police,
‘Things will settle down again’. The responsibility
is back on the women.” (Case manager)
As in other disasters (Jenkins and Phillips, 2008),
domestic violence after disaster was seen to have little
to do with recovery and reconstruction. The focus on
practical recovery, grief and loss, together with sympathy
for traumatised, suffering and suicidal men prevented
willingness to hear about domestic violence. Ultimately,
some women gave up. One woman, after finishing the
interview, said, “I’ll get out of here in a box”, revealing
both her level of surrender and the danger she was in.
Relevance of domestic violence to
emergency planning and response
The risk posed by natural disaster is greater for women
in situations of existing domestic violence. Disaster itself
can trigger an increase in the severity of existing violence
and violence that is new. In existing situations, women’s
preparation and evacuation strategies may be limited by
concessions to controlling partners or, more directly, by
lack of options, such as not having access to a vehicle.
Australian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume 28, No. 2, April 2013
I Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
Where women and children have left violent men,
their new visibility and potentially shared emergency
accommodation may expose them to unavoidable contact
with an abusive ex-partner. Sometimes, in disaster
situations, women may have no choice but to rely on
abusive partners to keep themselves and their children
housed and relatively safe (Fothergill, 1999; Fothergill,
2008; Houghton, 2009; Jenkins and Phillips, 2008;
Phillips, etal., 2009). Lack of awareness of increased
vulnerability to domestic violence after disaster by the
community and emergency managers endangers women
(Enarson, 1999; Fothergill, 2008; Phillips, etal., 2009;
Wilson, etal., 1998). An Australian domestic violence
crisis line worker is still haunted by the memory of a
call she received from a woman the night before Black
“I received a call from a woman at around three in the
morning. She told me the history of abuse from her
partner – it is honestly, abuse that is much too
gruesome and personal to repeat here ... Then she told
me that people in her town were enacting their bushfire
plans because it was a bushfire region. She said that
her plan was always to leave early, but tonight, after
abusing her, her partner took the keys to the car and
said, “I hope there IS a bushfire tomorrow and I hope
you die in it.” And then he took the car and left. She had
no other plan for getting away” (Cooper, 2012).
An important role for
emergency management
Emergency management can play a part in preventing
domestic violence after disaster by attending to it in
planning, response and recovery stages. While the
emergency stage after disasters necessarily attends to
primary needs of food, water and shelter, the recovery
and reconstruction stages include services for grief
and loss. This happened after the 2009 bushfires,
as counsellors and case-managers, ‘thick on the
ground’ in many fire-affected communities, attended
to individual psycho-social needs. However, this
research highlights that domestic violence was not
recognised as a legitimate issue in the post-disaster
What needs to be done?
Federal, State and local governments need to establish
disaster guidelines that include attention to domestic
violence as a priority in the aftermath of disasters.
Response and prevention strategies must include
the involvement of domestic violence services and
women. Accurate domestic violence statistics must be
recorded by all personnel responding to disaster, such
as health and community services and police. Actions
by governments would include training in domestic
violence identification and referral for all human services
The Women’s Health Goulburn North East website has a series of publications about women and disaster titled Snapshot 1 – 4.
Australian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume 28, No. 2, April 2013
Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
personnel involved in disaster response (such as that
developed by WHGNE). In the aftermath of disasters,
provision of mandatory family counselling could prevent
family violence emerging at a later stage. This could
most easily be arranged for emergency services workers.
While this is clearly a controversial topic (Drury, etal.,
2012; Forbes, etal., 2007; Forbes, etal., 2010; Hobfoll,
etal., 2007), research participants pointed to the stigma
and potential consequences involved in asking or
volunteering for counselling offered by their emergency
services employer. For example, they may fear having
responsibilities removed from their role, or being passed
over for promotion.
Additionally, in regard to police response, Victoria Police
have a strong history over the past decade in turning
around attitudes to domestic violence and breaking
down the barriers to women reporting. The same task is
required in a post-disaster context, when all the reasons
women are reluctant to report are magnified.
These are unwelcome findings. We accept that violence
against women increased after earthquakes in Haiti
and cyclones in Bangladesh, but nobody wants to
hear that men who embody the spirit of resilient and
heroic Australia are violent towards their families. The
aftermath of Black Saturday presents Australians with
the opportunity to see how deeply embedded male
privilege is, and how fragile are attempts to criminalise
domestic violence. The magnitude of Black Saturday
and the depth of men’s suffering obscured women’s and
children’s rights to live free from violence, as family and
community members, police and health professionals
sometimes silenced women. It seemed that two decades
of increased understanding of the dynamics of domestic
violence by both police and the broader community was
lost in this disaster’s aftermath.
You can help in just 4 steps:
1. ASK: Are you safe at home?
2. NAME IT: What you’ve just
described to me is violence and
it’s a crime.
3. RESPOND: Give contact details
of the local Domestic Violence
Service, CASA and Victoria Police
4. FOLLOW UP: ‘Last time you spoke
about your safety. I’d like to know
how you are now.
disaster is no excuse for family violence
Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service of Victoria
24hr support, information or referral to safe accommodation (refuge)
(03) 9322 3555 or 1800 015 188 (toll free for country users)
CASA – Centres Against Sexual Assault
1800 806 292 (all hours) or (03) 5722 2203 for STD area residents
Victoria Police 000
Victims of Crime Support Line
Telephone information, support and reeral for victims of crime
8am–11pm, Monday to Friday 1800 819 817 (toll free)
Men’s Referral Service (03) 9428 2899 or 1800 065 973 (toll free)
9am–9pm Monday to Friday
(Adapted from ‘Raped by a Partner’)
Further reading or
Resources on the websites include the Postcard
and Snapshots, and recommendations for agencies
involved in disaster prevention, response and
Anastario, M., Shehab, N., Lawry, L., 2009. Increased Gender-
based Violence Among Women Internally Displaced in Mississippi
Two Years Post-Hurrican Katrina. Disaster Med Public Health
Preparedness, 3(1), pp18-26.
Atkinson, J., 2002. Voices in the wilderness – restoring justice
to traumatised people. University of Law Journal, 15.
AusAID Office of Development Effectiveness, 2008. Violence
against women in Melanesia and East Timor Building on Global
and Regional Promising Approaches. Canberra: Office of
Development Effectiveness.
Australian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume 28, No. 2, April 2013
I Disaster Resilient Australia: Get Ready
Austin, D. W., 31.7.2008. Hyper-Masculinity and Disaster:
Gender Role Construction in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Annual
Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
At index.html
Bachelard, M., 10.5.09. Three months and three days since the
Black Saturday inferno, The Age. At
Borrell, J., 2011. Rupture, Loss, Identity and Place following
the 2009 Victorian Bushfires: A theoretical exploration. New
Community Quarterly, 9(2 (Issue 34)), pp14-22.
Bunch, C., 1990. Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Toward
a Re-Vision of Human Rights. Human Rights Quarterly, 12(4),
Cooper, J., 2012 Hypothetical Panel Member. Paper presented at
the Identifying the Hidden Disaster, Melbourne.
Debbonaire, T., 2008). Common Couple Violence: What’s in a
name? Respect Newsletter 07/08. At
media/8921/commoncouple.pdf, accessed 21/3/2013.
Dobash, R. P. and Dobash, R. E., 2004. Women’s violence
to men in intimate relationships: Working on a puzzle. British
Journal of Criminology, 44, pp324-349.
Dobson, N., 1994. From under the Mud-pack: Women and the
Charleville Floods. The Macedon Digest, 9(2), pp11-13.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, (n.d. circa 1993). Power
and control wheel. Duluth, MN: National Center on Domestic and
Sexual Violence.
Drury, J., Kemp, V., Newman, J., Novelli, D., Doyle, C.,
Walter, D., Williams, R., 2012. Psychosocial care for persons
affected by emergencies and major incidents: a Delphi study
to determine the needs of professional first responders for
education, training and support. Emergency Medicine Journal.
Dutton, D. and Corvo, K., 2007. The Duluth model: A data-
impervious paradigm and a failed strategy. Aggression and Violent
Behavior, 12, pp658-667.
Enarson, E., 1999. Violence Against Women in Disasters: A Study
of Domestic Violence Programs in the United States and Canada.
Violence Against Women, 5(7), pp742-768.
Enarson, E., 2012. Women confronting natural disaster: From
vulnerability to resilience. Boulder, Colarado: Lynne Rienner
Publishers, Inc.
Enarson, E. and Phillips, B., 2008. Invitation to a new feminist
disaster sociology: integrating feminist theory and methods.
In B. Phillips and B. H. Morrow (Eds.), Women and Disasters:
From Theory to Practice (pp41-74). USA: International Research
Committee on Disasters.
Flood, M., 2006. Secrets and Lies: Responding to attacks
on domestic violence campaigns. XY: men, masculinities and
gender politics. At
Forbes, D., Creamer, M., Phelps, A., Bryant, R., McFarlane,
A., Devilly, G. J., Matthews, L., Raphael, B., Doran, C.,
Merlin, T., Newton, S., 2007. Australian Guidelines for the
Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Post-
Traumatic Stress Disorder. Australian and NewZealand Journal
of Psychiatry, 41(8), pp637-648.
Forbes, D., Fletcher, S., Wolfgang, B., Varker, T., Creamer,
M., Brymer, M. J., Ruzekj, J.I., Watson, P., Bryant, R.
A., 2010. Practitioner Perceptions of Skills for Psychological
Recovery: A Training Programme for Health Practitioners in the
Aftermath of the Victorian Bushfires. Australian and NewZealand
Journal of Psychiatry, 44(12), pp1105-1111.
Fothergill, A., 1999. An exploratory study of woman battering
in the Grand Forks flood disaster: implications for community
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About the authors
Debra Parkinson is a social researcher,
committed to feminism and social justice. She
is currently Research Officer at Women’s Health
Goulburn North East, Manager of Research,
Advocacy and Policy at Women’s Health in the North,
and is completing a PhD at Monash University.
Claire Zara is researcher with Women’s Health
Goulburn North East. Her background is in
journalism, teaching and research. She worked
extensively with women and workers on this bushfire
report and is a PhD student at the Monash Injury
Research Institute.
... The ignorance, parts of the literature claims, led to a disaster that not only had an immediate impact in terms of human deaths and material destruction. The longer-term impacts come across through descriptions of how the fires altered family and community dynamics, caused mental health problems, and interconnected issues such as an increase in domestic violence, depression, anger and alcohol abuse; effects that continued long after the fire was extinguished (Ambrey, Fleming, and Manning 2017;Cowlishaw et al. 2021;Pfitzer et al. 2016;Wasiak et al. 2013;Molyneaux et al. 2020;Bryant et al. 2021;Harms et al. 2018Harms et al. , 2021Hall 2011;Parkinson and Zara 2013;Forbes et al. 2015). While ignorance was central to explaining why Black Saturday turned into a fully-fledged disaster, multiple factors were considered to influence decisions, ranging from masculine cultures and bush romanticization to an Lacking knowledge as a theme was present in every discipline included in this review. ...
... Again, education is an essential tool, but the supervisory relationship between authorities and households is not as prominent in the literature during the prefire phase. Rather post-fire literature acknowledges mental health states such as anger and recognition of the needs of vulnerable groups in the aftermath of fire episodes (Bryant et al. 2021;O'Neill and Handmer 2012;Harms et al. 2018;Hall 2011;Parkinson and Zara 2013;Forbes, Jones, and Reupert 2012;Forbes et al. 2015;Cowlishaw et al. 2021). The call for acknowledgement of the long term effects of the fires reflects a gap between what responsible authorities plan for and how the effects of the fires unfold in reality. ...
... Others focus on the atmospheric conditions that underpin the weather patterns related to the event (Cai, Cowan, and Raupach 2009; Sant ın et al. 2012; Price and Bradstock 2012; Cruz et al. 2012; Sullivan and Matthews 2013; Siddaway and Petelina 2011; Engel et al. 2013; Jumelet et al. 2020; Kala, Evans, and Pitman 2015; Dowdy, Fromm, and McCarthy 2017), or ecological factors and consequences of the fire(Hansen 2018;Banks et al. 2011;Lindenmayer et al. 2021). Furthermore, the effects on individuals, families, and communities in the aftermath harnessed attention from researchers(Parkinson and Zara 2013;Zara et al. 2016;Molyneaux et al. 2020;Cowlishaw et al. 2021;Forbes et al. 2015;Bryant et al. 2021;Harms et al. 2018Harms et al. , 2021Hall 2011;Walters and Clulow 2010;Jacobs, Vihma, and Pezza 2015;Pfitzer et al. 2016;Cameron et al. 2009;Wasiak et al. 2013). Despite the complexity inherent in this Black Saturday assemblage, certain representations harness more attention than others. ...
In response to intensifying wildfire seasons, scholars call for new wildfire policy and management approaches. Based on the assumption that science, policy, and management are integrated spheres of meaning-making, this article aims to contribute to reflective and creative research conversations about fire policy and management by directing analytical attention to the role of science. Using Causal Layered Analysis, we unpack scientific representations of three wildfire events/seasons in Sweden, the US, and Australia. The analysis illustrates that scientific representations of wildfires are contextual and promote particular policy recommendations and management interventions. Furthermore, the review identifies a discrepancy between dominant, more simplistic representations and the dynamic and complex representation emerging from an interdisciplinary reading of the literature. To address this discrepancy, we argue that there is a need to continuously renegotiate the boundaries of wildfires through rethinking the process underpinning the scientific representations to account for the complexity inherent in wildfire events.
... [2] Such violence can increase during humanitarian crises, including conflicts and natural disasters. [34] During armed conflicts, violence against women is often used as a weapon of war, in order to dehumanize the women themselves, or to persecute the community to which they belong. [35] The health consequences of GBV include risky sexual behaviour and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), physical wounds, depression, abortions, and death. ...
... 33 The importance of gender is exemplified by the caregiver roles adopted Crompton, Kohleis, Shakespeare-Finch, et al by women in many societies, the increased risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) following a disaster, and the recognized association between IPV and the increased likelihood of adverse physical health and mental health outcomes. [34][35][36][37] Failure to address the relationship between post-disaster physical health and adverse psychological outcomes and to provide a strategy to address this aspect increases the likelihood of unmet mental health needs and delayed presentation and treatment. ...
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Background: Following the 2010-2011 floods and cyclones that affected 78% of Queensland, Australia, a State-wide mental health response was established. The response plan included a 24-hour access line. This study examines the effectiveness of the mental health screening program conducted via the State-wide health call center (13HEALTH) in 2012. Methods: Callers to the 13HEALTH line were screened to assess the impact of the disaster. The 13HEALTH clinicians administered the Primary Care-Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Scale (PC-PTSD) screening measure. Those scoring more than two on the PC-PTSD Scale were provided information on the emotional impact of disasters and a referral to the post-disaster specialist mental health program (SMHP). For calls related to those under 18, a single-item question assessed behavioral or emotional changes since the natural disasters. Those with identified changes were offered a referral to a post-disaster SMHP.The study evaluates the relationship between disaster exposure and the likelihood of 13HEALTH callers experiencing physical health concerns and unacknowledged mental health symptoms. The program's cost for the 12 months of 2012 was assessed using data from the financial contract. Results: In 2012, there were 205,064 calls to 13HEALTH: 19,708 identified as residing in a flood or cyclone-affected area, 7,315 adults indicated they were personally affected, and 907 scored more than two on the PC-PTSD Scale. Only 700 agreed to a referral to the SMHP. There were 290 children under 18 assessed as at risk; 207 accepted a referral to a SMHP.Regions that experienced a greater impact from the floods and cyclones were 1.3-2.3 times more likely to report being personally affected by the floods and cyclones. Similarly, these regions had more callers scoring more than two on the PC-PTSD Scale. The total cost of the 13HEALTH program for 2012 was $53,284 (AU) across all age groups. Conclusion: The 13HEALTH general health post-disaster screening program demonstrates opportunistic screening may assist identification of those with unmet mental health needs. The data indicate an increased likelihood of personal exposure in the more affected regions with an increased risk of unrecognized psychological symptoms as assessed by the PC-PTSD Scale. However, more than 20% declined referral to a SMHP.
... Physical distancing measures contribute to increased feelings of isolation, stress, and anxiety, mood disorders, sleep issues, PTSD, and emotional burnout (Brooks et al. 2020;Lateef et al. 2021;Rajkumar 2020). Families demonstrate more intimacy and conflict, hence an increase in marriages, pregnancies, divorces, and intimate violence since the COVID-19 pandemic (Humphreys et al. 2020;Lateef et al. 2021;Moreira and Costa 2020), consistent in various types of disasters around the world (Cohan and Cole 2002;Gearhart et al. 2018;Kofman and Garfin 2020;Parkinson and Zara 2013;Peterman et al. 2020;Prasso 2020;Xu and Feng 2016). ...
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To test and explore whether more positive coparenting will significantly predict lower COVID-19-related stress across family configurations and dynamics and across both higher- and lower-income mothers, we developed and circulated an online survey among mothers from the U.S. and Canada. Coparenting was measured using the Coparenting Across Family Structures (CoPAFS) short form (27 items) scale, comprised of factors representing five coparenting dimensions: communication, respect, trust, animosity, and valuing the other parent. Items specific to COVID-19 stressors assessed the types of stressors each parent faced. The sample consisted of 236 North American mothers, mostly white (n = 187, 79.2%) and aged 30–50 years. The surveyed mothers reported a consistent and significant relation between more positive coparenting and less COVID-19-related stressors whether parents were living together or not, married or divorced, and with a lower or higher income level, suggesting the importance and centrality of positive coparenting as a key factor for family well-being. Coparenting was especially predictive among mothers who were never married and those with lower incomes.
... These concerns build on an already existing body of the literature pointing to the relationship between different kinds of crises and increases in gender-based violence(s). Research following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (Bhattacarya, 2013(Bhattacarya, -2014, the Australian bushfires (Parkinson & Zara, 2013), natural disasters in several countries (Harville et al., 2011), work in India (Rao, 2020), the Philippines and Vietnam (Nguyen & Rydstrom, 2018), Iran, (Sohrabizadeh, 2016) and Japan (Yoshihama et al., 2019), all consistently demonstrated the heightened risk of intimate partner violence and increased stresses in family life during and post-crisis. However, these studies are all largely focused, almost exclusively, upon the increase of non-fatal violence against women. ...
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Labelled ‘the shadow pandemic’ by UN Women, violence against women received considerable global public attention during 2020–21. Underpinning this moment of public concern, there lies a substantial history of efforts to document the nature of, and campaign against, the extent of violence against women globally. This is also the case in relation to femicide. Whilst we recognise that this is a contested term, for the purposes of this paper we use femicide to refer to the killing of women and girls because they are female by male violence. Femicide, as a death to be specifically counted in law only exists in a small number of jurisdictions. Where it is so recognised, primarily in South American countries as feminicidio, such deaths represent only the tip of the iceberg of such killings globally. This paper, in drawing on empirical data from a range of different sources (including administrative data, media analysis, and Femicide Observatory data) gathered throughout 2020, considers: what it means to call a death femicide, what implications might follow if all the deaths of women at the hands of men were counted as femicide, and the extent to which extraordinary times have any bearing on this kind of ordinary death.
... With the COVID-19, there has been a serious rise in the cases of physical, psychological, and economic abuse against women. It is known in the literature that violence against women intensifies during crisis periods such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods (Parkinson and Zara 2013). History repeated in the COVID-19 crisis and it was revealed that violence against women deepened with the pandemic (Marques et al. 2020). ...
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has crucial implications for intergroup inequalities. The main aims of the current study are to examine how the COVID-19 affects inequalities between women and men, understand the causes of increasing gender-based inequalities during pandemic, and offer practical solutions on how these inequalities can be reduced. The results of studies from different countries demonstrated that gender-based inequalities that existed before the pandemic deepened with the COVID-19. After the COVID-19, there has been a serious rise in the level of physical, psychological and economic violence that women are exposed to, the labor they spend on housework and caring has increased dramatically, and the problems they face in business life ascended. Understanding why gender-based inequalities have increased during the COVID-19 is one of the influential steps to achieve gender equality. When the reasons are examined, it has been determined that many factors, including the policies implemented in the struggle against the pandemic and gender roles, play critical roles in this rise. Finally, in order to diminish gender-based inequalities, short and long-term solutions are presented such as carrying out gender-based awareness education, adequate representations of women in decision-making processes, developing gender-sensitive policies, strengthening the mechanisms that support women.
... With respect to gender-specific vulnerabilities, these incidents particularly impact women (Kolbe et al., 2010;Schumacher et al., 2010;Sety, 2012) and children (Biswas et al., 2010). Post-disaster analyses predict that increased stresses associated with fractured community infrastructure and diminished access to resources function as part of the overall conditions which precipitate the general increase in interpersonal violence (Lauve-Moon & Ferreira, 2017), including domestic and family violence (DFV) (Parkinson & Zara, 2013;Xu et al., 2016). In research on the 2009 Victorian bushfires in Australia, experiences of violence were higher in high bushfire-affected regions compared to those in low-bushfire affected regions (Molyneaux et al., 2019). ...
The advent of COVID‐19 as a global public health crisis in 2020 was quickly followed by predictions regarding likely increases in occurrences of domestic and family violence (DFV). The aim of this study was to understand the impact of the pandemic on practitioner experiences of DFV in one service organisation in New South Wales, Australia. Qualitative focus group interviews were performed with senior practitioners at Relationships Australia (NSW), and a grounded theory approach was employed in formulation of a perspective which highlighted social isolation under public health management social distancing measures as that which distinguished practitioner experiences of DFV during COVID‐19. Social isolation was conceived as the overarching factor across categorisations of practitioner responses, including: (a) situations of client domestic relations; (b) client general life circumstances; (c) emerging client self‐awareness; (d) organisational and social systems changes; and (e) necessary work practice changes. Organisational and workplace recommendations address the relative difference of pandemic management measures from natural disaster occurrences, with respect to supporting people experiencing DFV.
In the past 20 years, climate-induced disasters have significantly increased in severity and frequency. Disasters can cause catastrophic damage, destroying homes and displacing individuals, families, and communities, often evoking psychological distress among survivors. Children and youth are among the most vulnerable during and after a disaster with risk and protective factors playing an important role in post-disaster adaptation. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of short- and long-term distress include higher level of disaster exposure, pre-existing mental health challenges, maladaptive coping, and family conflict. Conversely, protective factors such as social connection, healthy family relationships, self-efficacy, and positive coping reduce the likelihood of post-disaster distress. Evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions can also play an important role in helping children and youth recover after a disaster. Effective post-disaster interventions include activities that aim to increase emotional and behavioral regulation, adaptive coping skills, and peer and caregiver connections. It is well documented that interventions can aid in a young person’s recovery. However, limited funding and challenges with participant recruitment and retention are inherent in post-disaster service delivery and research.KeywordsRisk and protective factorsEvidence-based interventionsDisaster mental healthChildrenDisaster recoveryPost-disasterJourney of Hope
Schools are increasingly expected to provide a holistic approach to education: one that addresses not only student learning, but also student wellbeing, social-emotional support and essential material support to children and young people. This comes with an expanding responsibility of schools to support diverse students’ needs. Notable exemplars of models to redress disadvantage at school include the provision of breakfast clubs and interagency supports. As a result, school closures prompted by crisis, like those implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can have ripple effects far beyond the delivery of formal education. Commonly, children and young people who require this broader school support tend to be most vulnerable to the effects of crisis. This chapter examines the critical and under-recognised ways schools support vulnerable children and young people to be able to participate in learning, highlighting the potentially detrimental impacts of disaster-induced school closures to the wellbeing and achievement of this cohort. Therefore, during and after times of crises, there is a need for sustained responses to addressing educational inequities, such as through interagency collaboration or professional learning for educators as responders to student vulnerabilities as outlined in Chap. 2.
This paper presents an exploratory study of woman battering in the Grand Forks, North Dakota flood of April 1997. Based on my qualitative research of women's experiences in this flood, I present two case studies of battered women to enhance understanding of what intimate partner violence means to women in the face of a natural disaster. The case studies illustrate how battered women make sense of their situations and how factors such as class and disability play a role in how women experience domestic violence. The case studies also show why services for battered women, such as emergency shelters and crisis counseling, are crucial during a disaster period. Even though we do not know if domestic violence rates increase in a. disaster, we do have evidence that the demand for domestic violence services increases during disaster times. In light of this, I argue that there is a need to prepare for that situation.
The general view of descriptive research as a lower level form of inquiry has influenced some researchers conducting qualitative research to claim methods they are really not using and not to claim the method they are using: namely, qualitative description. Qualitative descriptive studies have as their goal a comprehensive summary of events in the everyday terms of those events. Researchers conducting qualitative descriptive studies stay close to their data and to the surface of words and events. Qualitative descriptive designs typically are an eclectic but reasonable combination of sampling, and data collection, analysis, and re-presentation techniques. Qualitative descriptive study is the method of choice when straight descriptions of phenomena are desired.
This article reports on a study undertaken in New Zealand on the rates of domestic violence reporting during disasters. The study involved five case studies of communities after three disasters. The case studies showed a significant increase in the number of domestic violence cases being worked on in the months surrounding the disaster for many agencies. One organization in particular, the Women's Refuge, was found to consistently have the largest increases and the most sizeable impacts. Despite this common occurrence, there are no provisions in either government emergency planning or planning by domestic violence agencies to cope with the impact of future events. The first section of this article will discuss the increase in domestic violence cases - first for the Women's Refuge, and second for other agencies in the domestic violence field. In the second section, two of the major areas of concern for the Women's Refuges will be examined, with specific examples. Natural disasters impact in two ways, both on the clients of the agencies and on the agencies and their staff members, who may also be under stress as a direct consequence of the emergency. These issues highlight the need for domestic violence considerations to be included in disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies, and for domestic violence agencies to be aware of the adverse impact a disaster may have on their workloads and ability to do this work. Thus, in the context of this issue, DRR initiatives have yet to mainstream a particular element of the gender problematic - domestic violence; conversely, those who work in the highly gendered field of domestic violence have yet to mainstream disaster preparedness and risk reduction into their work.
This article argues that there are two distinct forms of couple violence taking place within families in the United States and other Western countries. A review of evidence from large-sample survey research and from qualitative and quantitative data gathered from women's shelters suggests that some families suffer from occasional outbursts of violence from either husbands or wives (common couple violence), while other families are terrorized by systematic male violence (patriarchal terrorism). It is argued that the distinction between common couple violence and patriarchal terrorism is important because it has implications for the implementation of public policy, the development of educational programs and intervention strategies, and the development of theories of interpersonal violence.