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Responding to Domestic Violence in the Wake of Disasters: Exploring the Workers’ Perceptions of the Effects of Cyclone Yasi on Women

Part of the Humanitarian Solutions in the 21st Century book series (HSIC)

Abstract

Recent international studies suggest that women are more vulnerable to domestic violence (DV) during and post natural and technological disasters. In Australia, a country that is regularly affected by extreme weather events, there have been very few studies into how DV manifests in the context of such events. In this second of three chapters, we report on a study into workers’ perceptions of women’s experiences of DV during Cyclone Yasi and also on the qualitative findings from a nationwide survey of service providers’ perspectives on DV and disasters. Findings were that reports of DV decreased prior to and during the cyclone but increased once it had passed; psychological abuse increased, particularly coercive control; women took opportunities to disclose DV to emergency responders; refugee and Aboriginal women were particularly vulnerable to DV and some women were able to leave violent partners as a result of opportunities provided by the disaster.

Keywords

  • Natural disasters
  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Cyclone Yasi
  • Victim’s experience

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In Australia, ‘domestic violence’ is the preferred term. However, in the USA, ‘intimate partner violence’ or IPV is preferred. In this chapter, the more colloquial ‘DV’ is used.

  2. 2.

    The UNSW research team was led by Kerrie James and included Isobelle Barrett Meyering, Rochelle Braaf, Jan Breckenridge and Megan Sety.

  3. 3.

    In accordance with our ethics requirements, we do not identify the names of agencies in these chapters.

References

  • Lockie, A. (2007). Domestic violence and disasters. Women’s Rights Law Reporter, 28(1), 49–51.

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  • Parkinson, D., & Zara, C. (2012). The way he tells it: Relationships after Black Saturday. Wangaratta: Women’s Health Goulburn North East.

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  • Rowlands, A. (2013). Disaster recovery management in Australia and the contribution of social work. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 12(1–2), 19–38. doi:10.1080/1536710X.2013.784173.

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Correspondence to K. James .

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© 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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James, K., Breckenridge, J., Braaf, R., Barrett Meyering, I. (2014). Responding to Domestic Violence in the Wake of Disasters: Exploring the Workers’ Perceptions of the Effects of Cyclone Yasi on Women. In: Roeder, L. (eds) Issues of Gender and Sexual Orientation in Humanitarian Emergencies. Humanitarian Solutions in the 21st Century. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-05882-5_6

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