It’s popped up again. The old, but persistent, alcohol fuels domestic violence narrative.
The more articles written on violence against women and their children the better. But when authors talk about what ‘causes’ this violence, I have to pop my head above the parapet to say – we now have comprehensive evidence about this, so let’s stop perpetuating simplistic narratives.
The large body of evidence reviewed by Our Watch in the last year overwhelmingly shows that although there is no single cause of domestic violence, there are certain factors that consistently predict – or drive – higher levels of this violence.
The strongest of these are clearly associated with gender inequality, and specifically with the condoning of violence against women, gendered power relationships, stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity, and male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.
And when it comes to Indigenous communities, research tells us that we must also consider the way in which intergenerational trauma, and the other impacts of colonisation on Indigenous people, play out as significant underlying drivers of violence, including gendered violence.
Alcohol abuse, mental illness and poverty are three among many factors which appear to have some impact in some situations. But the research finds that none of these factors consistently correlate with violence, and none is anywhere near sufficient to explain the gendered patters of violence we currently see across Australia.
Being poor does not ‘cause’ domestic violence. Nor does drinking alcohol. All of us know individuals (many of us are such individuals) to whom these characteristics apply, who are not violent and never would be. So rather than looking at any of these factors in isolation, we need to understand them in relation to the more significant drivers of violence.