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A warrior in the family: Intervening in cases where the perpetrator of intimate partner violence is also a refugee or torture survivor

A warrior in the family: Intervening in cases where the perpetrator of intimate partner violence is also a refugee or torture survivor

Male survivors of torture may be at higher risk of enacting violence within the family. Family violence includes Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) targeting the spouse, violence and aggression toward children, and harmful exposure of children to IPV. There is conclusive evidence that torture has a major negative impact on the mental health and psychosocial functioning of survivors and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related symptoms of anxiety and depression tend to be more common, severe, and chronic, amongst torture survivors. Associated excessive use of alcohol and other substances may further reduce frustration tolerance and thereby increases the risk of aggression towards intimate partners. This presentation explores the evidence for a multifaceted approach to intervention with men who may be torture and trauma survivors and perpetrators of IPV. Key areas for consideration will be: taking a ‘whole of family’ approach without risking the safety of the partner and children; considering patriarchy, cultural norms and contemporary Australian expectations and laws regarding IPV; the association between war, masculinity, and the perceived loss of male power during settlement; working on men’s emotions and disrupting refugee men’s increased attachment to gendered power; torture and the assault on men’s sense of integrity and dignity; the torture survivor’s loss of self-esteem; the risk of screening refugee men for IPV perpetration; and evidence for perpetrator interventions and their appropriateness for refugee men.