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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018


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Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community. It results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, compromised development, or deprivation (WHO, 2017).

Violence is a significant health and human rights issue, and has demonstrable negative impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities.

The prevalence of violence and types of violence vary across cultures. Vulnerability to different forms of violence differs according to relative power and resources.

Key points

  • The effects of violence are evident in issues such as child abuse and family violence; discrimination and the treatment of asylum seekers; bullying and cyberbullying;  terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and war.
  • Violence has both acute and chronic mental and physical health consequences. Being assaulted or witnessing assaults against family members in childhood or adolescence increases the likelihood of mental health problems, substance abuse, and involvement in abusive relationships for both women and men.
  • Domestic or family violence as an ongoing pattern of violent, abusive and controlling behaviours by one family member toward another member or members. It often remains an invisible or hidden crime. Men are more likely to be the perpetrators, while women and children are most commonly the victims of family violence.
  • Family violence typically consists of behaviour which is intended by the perpetrator to control the actions of the victim, and results in varying degrees of fear and intimidation. This control extends to isolating the victim from potential sources of support, such as friends and family and victim services.
  • Violence against women is a major cause of distress, injury and death for women and reduced quality of life for their children. It has serious secondary effects for families, communities, and the economy.
  • Children who live with family violence are at risk for psychological and behavioural problems. Separation and divorce can protect children from ongoing exposure to relationship conflict (and violence), but also have the potential to expose them to increased interparental conflict, particularly during the separation.
  • Addressing violence is a community responsibility. Seeing violence against women as an individual or a relationship problem will lead to ineffective, victim-blaming and unsafe responses.
  • Prolonged exposure to media and internet violence is another factor that can lead to children displaying aggressive behaviour.

How the APS is involved

The APS advocates for policies and programs which prevent violence and prioritise the safety of victims. Any comprehensive policy and practice response to violence would need to avoid gender blind conceptualisations (e.g., ‘the violent couple’, ‘family conflict’), directly confront the violence as a central issue, encourage perpetrators to take responsibility for their use of violence, avoid blaming victims, and limit perpetrators’ scope for abuse of power.

The APS contributes submissions to government inquiries to provide evidence about the harm caused by violence and ways to prevent it in the future. Such inquiries have variously focussed on the experiences of women, children and people with disabilities.

APS member psychologists often work with individuals and groups who experience or use violence, seeking to prevent violent behaviour and address its impacts,and have contributed greatly toknowledge base in the area of domestic violence.