Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 359–373 | Cite as

Conjugal violence: Changing attitudes in two northern native communities

  • Douglas Durst
International Article

Abstract

In recent years, North American society has begun to recognize the tragic extent of conjugal violence in our homes. Family violence knows no social boundaries and tragically our native peoples have suffered its full impact on their homes and communities.

This article reports the findings of case studies of two Arctic communities and compares their responses to family violence before oil and gas development and after. The communities are situated in the centre of the recent exploration for hydrocarbon resources in the Beaufort Sea and have experienced the direct social impacts of this industrial activity. Thus, they provided an excellent opportunity to analyze the relationship between industrial development and violence within the home.

The research applied a model developed by Blishen et al (1979), developed specifically for northern communities. The model analyzed the community's social processes and functioning on a continuum from “communitarianism” (social integration) to “privatization” (social isolation). This research collected data comparing conjugal violence before and after development and explored how individuals would respond to family violence and where they would go for help in addressing this problem.

The analysis revealed that the communities held different levels of communitarianism and privatization before hydrocarbon development accelerated. After development, both communities experienced increased responses to family violence which were both communitarian and privatized in nature. Previous to development, the respondents tended to avoid situations of family violence and when confronted with it they often did not know how to respond.

The findings indicated that conjugal violence has been present in native communities for a long time and it was incorrect to suggest that it was a new phenomenon blamed on increased development. The data indicated that native communities can and have successfully taken a community-based action on this problem. The data demonstrated that social work intervention focused on the community at large can have a positive impact on changing attitudes and stimulate community-based action. And there exists a danger that the social/human service worker may “professionalize” the problem, thereby removing the sense of responsibility from the community and “privatizing” the solution.

The article's contribution lies in its critical assessment of traditional human service intervention with individuals and the structures of northern society. And, the paper challenges the professional helpers to broaden their strategies to include innovative community-based approaches.

Keywords

Native Community Native People Family Violence Service Work Work Intervention 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Berger, T.R. (1985).Village Journey, The Report of the Alaska Native Review Commission. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  2. Blackman, J. (1989).Intimate Violence, A Study of Injustice. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blishen, B.R., Lockhart, A., Craib, P., and Lockhart, E. (1979).Socio-Economic Impact Model for Northern Development. Ottawa: Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.Google Scholar
  4. Bolton, F.G. and Bolton, S.R. (1987).Working with Violent Families. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Bone, B. (1984).The DIAND Socio-Economic Impact Monitoring Program: Norman Wells Project. Ottawa, Canada: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.Google Scholar
  6. Brody, H. (1975).The Peoples Land. Penguin Books Ltd. Middlesex. EnglandGoogle Scholar
  7. Brody, H. (1987).Living Arctic, Hunters of the Canadian, North. Toronto: Douglas & McKntyre.Google Scholar
  8. Clark, L.M.G. (1989). “Feminist Perspective on Violence Against Women and Children: Psychological, Social Service, and Criminal Justice Concerns.”Canadian Journal of Women and The Law. Vol 3(2). pp. 420–431.Google Scholar
  9. Coates, K. and Powell, J. (1989).The Modern North, People, Politics and the Rejection of Colonialism. Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Co., Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Finkelhor, D. (1988).Stopping Family Violence, Research Priorities for the Coming Decade. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Garbarino, J., Guttmann, E. and Seeley, J.W. (1986).The Psychologically Battered Child, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  12. Gelles, R.J. (1987).Family Violence. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. 2nd Edition.Google Scholar
  13. Goldner, V., Penn, P., Sheinberg, M. and Walker, G. (1990). “Love and Violence: Gender Paradoxes in Volatile Attachments.”Family Processes. Vol. 29(4). Dec. 1990. pp. 343–364.Google Scholar
  14. Grinnell, R.M. and Williams, M. (1990).Research in Social Work: A Primer. Itasca, Ill.: F.E. Peacock Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Henriksen, G. (1973).Hunters in the Barrens, the Naskapi on the Edge of the White Man's World. St. John's, Newfoundland: Institute of Social and Economic Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland.Google Scholar
  16. Holmes, M. and Lundy, C (1990). “Group Work with Abusive Men: A Pro-feminist Response.”Canada's Mental Health. Vol. 38(4). Dec. 1990. pp. 12–17.Google Scholar
  17. Leistritz, F.L. and Murdock, S.H. (1981).The Socioeconomic Impact of Resource Development: Methods for Assessment. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kreidley, M.C. and England, D.B. (1990). “Empowerment Through Group Support: Adult Women Who are Survivors of Incest.”Journal of Family Violence, Vol. 5(4). pp. 35–42.Google Scholar
  19. McMahon, K. (1988).Arctic Twilight. Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Co., Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Miller, D. (1990). “The Trauma of Interpersonal Violence.”Smith College Studies in Social Work. Vol. 6(1). pp. 5–26.Google Scholar
  21. Outcrop. (1984)NWT Data Book 84/85. Yellowknife, N.W.T.: Outcrop Ltd.Google Scholar
  22. Page, R. (1986).Northern Development, The Canadian Dilemma. Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Pagelow, M.D. (1981).Women Battering: Victims and Their Experiences. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Paine, R. (1977).The White Arctic. Memorial University of Newfoundland. St. John's. NF.Google Scholar
  25. Pressman, B., Cameron, C. and Rothery, M. (eds.). (1989).Intervening with Assaulted Women: Current Theory, Research and Practice. Hillsdale, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  26. Rubin, A. and Babbie, E. (1989).Research Methods for Social Work. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Russell, M., Phillips, N., Lipov, E. and Sanders, C. (1989). “Assaultive Husbands and Their Wives, A Canadian-American Comparison.”The Social Worker. Volume 57(4). Winter 1989. pp. 181–185.Google Scholar
  28. Savoie, D. (ed.). (1979).Les Indiens Loucheax par Emile Petitot. MDRP 10. Ottawa, ON: Northern Coordination and Research Centre. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.Google Scholar
  29. Sonkin, D.J., Martin, D. and Walker, L.E.A. (1985).The Male Batterer, A Treatment Approach. New York: Springer Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  30. United Nations (1989).Violence Against Women in the Family.Centre of Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs. New York: United Nations Publication.Google Scholar
  31. Walker, G.A. (1990).Family Violence and the Women's Movement, The Conceptual Politics of Struggle. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Durst
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John'sCanada

Personalised recommendations