1) Tell me about your job role and what you do?
Augustine Tun, I have worked as social work assistant in Reading for 8 years. I work in the MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) team and we are the front door for all social care referrals that come into Reading where there are concerns about the welfare of a child.
2) In comparison to other cases what is the percentage for domestic violence cases you receive within your line of work?
I cannot give an approximate number but I would guess about 75 percent of referral received are related to domestic violence.
3) How many percentages of your case are from a black and minority ethnic groups?
The difficulty with this is that, the information we get are mostly police reports and I do not think that they cite the ethnicity of the individuals involved. For this reason, I am unable to provide a percentage.
4) In your line of work what is the ratio of men: women as victims of domestic violence?
Generally speaking, stereo-typically it’s the women who are victims, very rarely do men come up as victims and when that does happen it is very unusual.
5) Why do you think society assume that women are always the victims of domestic violence?
Statistics spurs out and as previously a large proportion of referral we receive show the women as perpetrators. Maybe it’s the mind set of male perpetrators who tend to be physically more aggressive.
6) Tell me about the difference in the way males react to domestic violence as victims in comparison to women?
Many years ago, I went on a course about domestic violence which focused on male victims of domestic violence, from what I could gather and from what I have seen where males have been victims of domestic violence, on one level there is no difference whether male or female being protective. However, I think there is an unspoken element about male victims because of the male masculinity factor.
In cases where I have come across male victims in my line of work, what I have noticed is the tenderness of the male. It is almost like there has been a role reversal, the characteristics of the male victim can be feminine. But there is no difference in terms of how they might respond to the issue pf domestic violence. I have come across same sex marriage where females can be just aggressive towards each other, in those instances there is no difference when it comes to gender.
7) In your line of work (both counselling and social care) what are the differences in the way both professionals view this issues of domestic violence?
Social work is law focused and very perspective and child focused. A lot of focus in counselling is about the victim. The approach is very different, in my counselling role I have seen clients who have been in domestic violence relationships and it is an eye opener experience for me because , it’s a different approach from social work. In my counselling role it is about feelings, history, digging below what is going on in the clients mind. Digging below what is going on in the relationship, exploring their feelings about the abuse that they feel they need to stay in or be drawn in, what is it about their history that has brought them to the person they are with now that is abusing them.
8) Have you noticed a common theme in regards to the referral you receive concerning domestic violence? If so please explain?
The common theme is childhood material. Within my social work role when I go back to the childhood history, you can see how dysfunctional a person’s childhood was with their parents and how it impacts their relationships, it is almost like a blueprint. They carry this dysfunction on in their relationships and this becomes a cycle. Similarly in counselling this is also the case in my counselling experience when I look at a client’s history.
9) Tell me about contributing factors to domestic incidents (what might make this worse in a perpetrators perspective)?
It could be a number of reasons, fear, financial reasons, outside and wider family pressures, poor self-esteem. I think for perpetrators there is ongoing material about their own anxieties and fears, their own history, I think it boils down into fear, anger, loss of control, no control and being so angry that they need to control others in whatever way. It is about entitlement, “I am entitled to have this or do this, I have the power”. In a sad way it is because they often do not have the entitlement and they are not the man that they think they are.
10) What is the impact of domestic violence on individual holistically (socially, physically, psychologically, emotionally etc?
Domestic violence is considerable, people do not start of relationships expecting violence however, at the same time I think something happens in the physic where there is a pattern of choosing certain types of people who almost fit into the pattern of past abusers. Impact is considerable, there is a lot of mind game playing, it is physically harmful and can lead to death. It is quite complex.
11) What services are available for victims of domestic abuse as well as perpetrators?
In term of my social work role, there are refuges for males and females, there is the logistics of keeping people safe. There is counselling, talking therapies, time to talk and CBT therapies which I personally are the first steps of looking at the situation. Although CBT is good it gives you the logistics of managing the situation but I think counselling goes beneath what is going on.
Augustine Tun, Counsellor and Assistant Social Worker
Please Note: This interview was initially recorded however, due to some technicalities, the responses of the professionals had to be typed. For this reason some of the responses had to be tweaked to address the questions appropriately.