Condoning violence against women
Gender inequality creates the social conditions for violence against women to occur. There are four key expressions of gender inequality that have been found to predict or drive this violence. To prevent violence against women, we must focus our efforts on addressing these drivers. The condoning of violence against women is one of these drivers.
What does condoning violence against women mean?
Condoning violence against women is excusing, downplaying, justifying or denying violence, or blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator.
VicHealth expands on this definition to include attitudes and behaviours that:
- excuse violence by attributing it to external factors (such as stress) or proposing that men cannot be held fully responsible for their violent behaviour (for example, because of anger or sexual urges);
- justify violence against women, based on the notion that its legitimate for a man to use violence against a woman;
- trivialise the impact of violence, based on the view that the impacts of violence are not serious or are not sufficiently serious to warrant action;
- minimise violence by denying its seriousness, denying that it occurs or denying that certain behaviours are indeed violence at all; and
- shift blame for the violence from the perpetrator to the victim or hold women at least partially responsible for their victimisation or for preventing victimisation.
The socio-ecological model
Attitudes that condone violence against women play a major role in shaping the way individuals, organisations and communities respond to violence. The socio-ecological model comes from the public health field and is used to help explain how violence is a product of multiple, interacting factors at the individual, organisational, systemic and societal levels.
The four gendered drivers exist at all of these levels and are the social conditions which predict, or ‘drive’, higher levels of violence against women.
Reinforcing factors interact with the gendered drivers at the individual and relationship level to increase the probability, frequency and severity of this violence.
Adapted from Change the Story, Our Watch (2015)
Rates of family violence and violence against women are higher when societies, institutions, communities or individuals condone this violence. Looking at how this driver manifests within different settings where people live, learn, work, socialise and play, can help you to plan your approach to addressing it and prevent violence against women before it occurs. The more areas across society where violence-supportive attitudes, behaviours and structures are challenged and rejected, the more we will be able to prevent violence against women before it happens.
Condoning violence against women takes many shapes and forms.
At an individual or relationship level condoning violence against women can look like:
At an organisational or community level, condoning violence against women can look like:
At an institutional or systemic level, condoning violence against women can look like:
At a societal level, condoning violence against women can look like:
What are some actions you can take to challenge attitudes and behaviours that condone violence against women?
- Download and share DVRCV’s condoning violence against women tip sheet. This resource is a great primary prevention tool that can be used to increase understanding about how condoning violence drives violence against women.
- Keep your gendered driver lens on. Always ask or have in mind: “What gendered drivers are present and how do they operate across norms, practices and structures to create the conditions in which violence against women is more likely to occur?”
- Read Change the Story, and How to Change the Story, Australia’s national framework for the prevention of violence against women and their children.
- Check out #FixedIt. Jane Gilmore’s website shows how the media plays a powerful role in condoning violence against women through its use of language that victim blames and excuses and justifies violence.
- Take active steps in your workplace. Our Watch has an excellent range of ‘Workplace Equality and Respect’ tools and resources to help take action.
- Call it out. Women’s Health West has developed a great tool for anyone looking to start conversations about violence but is unsure where to begin.
- Read and learn about how to take action at a community level. Women’s Health West’ Act to prevent men’s violence against women details practical prevention actions you can do within your community.