Category Archives: Domestic violence

Getting to the heart of domestic violence crisis


Photo: Hannah Clarke with her three children, Trey, Aaliyah, and Laianah. (Facebook)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

As I began writing this article, horrendous grief and anger are being poured out by family, friends and neighbours in Brisbane over the alleged murder and suicide of a family of four (mother and 3 children) burned to death in a car and the alleged DV perpetrator killing himself.

The ABC Brisbane headline (20 February 2020) was: Hannah Baxter[1] dies in hospital after three children killed in suspected murder-suicide in Brisbane’s Camp Hill, father Rowan Baxter dies at scene.

It is understood the wife, Hannah, was driving, husband Rowan was in the passenger seat. Three children aged 6, 4 and 2 were in the car. One witness of the event told The Guardian, ‘[Hannah] Baxter had run from the car screaming, “He’s poured petrol on me.”[2] This was the result (see image):

clip_image004(Police attend the scene of the car fire which claimed the lives four people in Brisbane. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP)[3]

A flood of grief has burst upon this Australian nation along with a call to do something more about DV behaviour.

clip_image006Photo: Flowers have been left near where the family died in the Brisbane suburb of Camp Hill. (ABC News: Kate McKenna)

DV epidemic

Australia is in the midst of a crisis of domestic violence. John Wren looked at DV statistics in this country:

Domestic violence is an epidemic in Australia. The statistics make sobering reading. On average, one woman a week is killed by their (sic) partner. The combined health, administration and social welfare costs of violence against women have been estimated to be $21.7 billion a year with costs rising exponentially in the future.

The Morrison Government loves to trot out the mantra that they are “keeping Australians safe” as their excuse for ever more draconian migration laws, monitoring laws and encryption laws, but their inaction on domestic violence and, in many cases, actions that actually make it worse belie the hollowness of the marketing spin that the phrase really is.

The Abbott Government cut funding to domestic violence programs and the Turnbull and Morrison Governments have continued that trend. It was suggested that Hannah Clarke had sought help to escape her violent husband but was unable to secure support through facilities already denuded by year after year of defunding. If this is true, then the Morrison Government through its budget cuts must bear some culpability for the death of her and her children (Wren’s Week: The Australian domestic violence epidemic, 22 February 2020).

So far today police in Australia would have dealt with on average 522 domestic violence matters.

(Data source: ABC News, Brisbane Qld)[4]

Is the government open to ‘whatever has to be done’?

Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, stated after this Clarke/Baxter tragedy:

“Baxter’s fire attack on his family was “horrific”.

“No-one could imagine the sadistic and premeditated nature of this violence, and I think Governments of any persuasion will do whatever we can.

“It is not an issue of money for a lack of ability or desire to change the laws. I think all of us stand united and have done for a long time in whatever we can do to stamp out this violence”.[5]

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the issue was above politics.

“I think all of us are open to whatever needs to be done, and I agree with you. You know, whatever has been done up until now doesn’t seem to be working.

“This is a scourge within our society and somehow we need to address it and get rid of it, and whatever that requires, in terms of whatever that requires, in terms of whatever kind of inquiry – and Peter is right – it is not about – we will do whatever, in terms of laws, money – this has to be brought to an end.”[6]

The Coalition’s Peter Dutton wants DV stamped out and governments will do whatever they can to make that happen.

clip_image008Richard Marles agrees from the opposition bench. All will do whatever needs to be done to get rid of the scourge of DV. Marles thinks of an inquiry, change of laws and money.

(image courtesy Clipartstation)

However, are they sincere in being ‘open to whatever needs to be done’ and will carry out ‘whatever we can do to stamp out this violence’? I have my doubts.

I’ll suggest a solution below that I can’t see Dutton and Marles doing hand-stands to achieve the eradication of DV.

Governments throw money at the problem

The Guardian Australia Edition reported in March 2019 ‘the Coalition [government] has pledged an extra $328m over three years to fight domestic violence, with frontline services, safe places and prevention strategies to receive the biggest grants’.[7]

In November 2019, the Queensland government (where I live) called for applications:

Apply now for a grant to help end domestic and family violence

Applications are now open for a share in $150,000 in grants for community organisations to host events during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in May 2020.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said grants of up to $5,000 each were available for projects designed to raise awareness, encourage community participation, and support people affected by domestic and family violence.[8]

In November 2019, the Federal government advised the ‘National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (NFVPLS) its $244,000-a-year funding would not be renewed past June 2020’.[9] This organisation deals with DV among indigenous people. Labor’s Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Linda Burney, said

the statistics showed a desperate need for more funding for domestic violence services, not less.

“When you look at the shocking statistics relating to Aboriginal women and family violence — 34 times more likely to be hospitalised, 10 times more likely to be murdered from violent assault — it beggars belief that this would happen,” she said.[10]

I’m in favour of funding DV services and education programs. More are needed and governments need to invest more if they are serious about spreading the anti-DV message, ‘Stop it at the start’.

It’s not only a male issue

9News reported:

Police respond to a “serious domestic dispute” somewhere in the country every two minutes.

· One in six women and one in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence

· One in four women and one in six men have experienced emotional abuse

· One in five women and one in 20 men have experienced sexual violence

· One in six women and one in nine men were physically or sexually abused

· One in two women and one in four men have been sexually harassed

· One in six women and one in 15 men have experienced stalking

· One in four Australian children is exposed to family violence.[11]

White Ribbon Australia acknowledged, ‘Sadly, both women and men are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men. Around 95% of all victims of violence, whether women or men, experience violence from a male perpetrator’.[12]

clip_image010(image courtesy Pinterest)

The Australian Social Monitor (1999) reported that the usual belief is that the overwhelming amount of DV is perpetrated by men against women. However this study in 1996/97 found that

partnered men and women were questioned about committing or suffering physical domestic violence in the last 12 months,[and they] show that women and men were equally likely to suffer injuries of about the same severity. There was some evidence of intergenerational transmission of violent behaviour both from father to son and mother to daughter. However, most respondents who admitted violence did not claim to have had violent parents.[13]

Lewis & Sarantakos (2001:2) claimed that over the last few decades, DV has been primarily defined as violence by men against women. Violence by women against their male partners was ‘considered to be either non-existent, or the fault of men, or has been trivalised and justified in a variety of ways’.

Their research challenged this notion and consider ‘the existence of this form of abuse is part of a fundamental disempowerment of men which has arisen from a tacit acceptance in society of the radical feminist agenda’. Lewis & Sarantakos concluded ‘that domestic violence is not an issue of gender, and that official policy should be directed to providing the kind of help for abused men which up until now has been available only to women’ (2001:2).

While acknowledging there is a major percentage of DV by men against women, the Australian Institute of Criminology identified a proportion of female DV perpetrators against men:

According to the findings of the ABS (2006) Personal Safety Survey, 78 percent of persons who reported being a victim of physical violence at the hands of a partner in the previous 12 months were female. Similarly, research by Access Economics (2004) found that 87 percent of all victims of domestic violence are women and that 98 percent of all perpetrators are men (Morgan & Chadwick 2009).

Is the real solution too religious?

There is a cure for the problem for both males and females who commit domestic violence (DV). However, the treatment is very Christian. Are you open to this Christian solution?

Reddit came close with its flair: ‘Male depravity’. It’s short of the mark because it misses half of the story. ‘Depravity’ hit the mark but applying it only to males is a biblical no-no!

Why? All people are depraved, male and female. The Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, nailed the problem for those who commit (DV), but it has application to all people who commit evil, ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?’ (Jer 17:9 NLT)

All people are badly sick with a sinful disease that is grounded in the human heart.

“Heart” (Hebrew lebab/leb [b’bel], Greek. kardia [kardiva]) occurs over one thousand times in the Bible, making it the most common anthropological term in the Scripture. It denotes a person’s center for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities; sometimes it is used figuratively for any inaccessible thing (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 1996. s.v. Heart).

The cure

I know of only one way to change the human heart from depravity to uprightness, from evil actions to freedom from the sin of DV. The cure comes from a changed inner person – a heart. It comes through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ who came to save sinners and make them righteous.

The apostle Paul stated it clearly in Scripture:

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life (1 Tim 1:15-16 NLT).

Image result for clipart The cureThis wicked blasphemer and persecutor of the Christian church, the Pharisee Saul, was changed from doing violence to Christians to proclaiming Jesus Christ across the then known world. He experienced the change all DV perpetrators need.

What changed him? ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile’ (Rom 1:16 NIV). Proclamation of the gospel of salvation through Christ alone turned a wicked, Christ-blaspheming sinner into a firebrand for the proclamation of the Christian message.

How does this happen for Jewish persecutors of Christians in the first century, persecutors of Christians in the Western world, changing murderers to decent people, and changing DV perpetrators into righteous people?

Bob Thune explained it in another context:

Somewhere along the line, we have individualized the gospel. We said it was just about “you and Jesus.” We forgot that the gospel doesn’t just change eternal destinies; it changes everything. The gospel transforms societies, renews families, and heals relationships. That’s why Jesus called it “the gospel of the kingdom” (Luke 16:16).

The gospel is all about the rule and reign of Jesus. And where Jesus is rightly honored as Lord, there is more than just personal salvation; there is redemptive action! The gospel is holistic. For me to say that I cared about Ryan’s soul without caring about his relationship with his family would be the pinnacle of hypocrisy.

The answer wasn’t, “Get saved and then we’ll deal with your family relationships.” The answer was, “God wants to heal the wounds in your family. He is a redemptive God” (Thune 2010. The Gospel changes everything, emphasis added).

The treatment for the DV perpetrator is:

(1) Education about DV and anger-control strategies;

(2) Proclamation of the Gospel of salvation through Christ;

(3) A call to forgiveness of sins and repentance.

(4) If the person responds positively to the Gospel, the local church must provide discipleship to help the person grow as a Christian.

Follow these biblical principles[14]

The new Christian and former DV perpetrator will not change only by giving up DV habits. It may take time for change to blossom into maturity (called Christian sanctification).

For lasting change to be established in a person’s life, bad practices need to be replaced with godly practices. This ‘Principle of Replacement’ is found in such Scripture as Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT):

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy (emphasis added).

In growing up to be more like Jesus in their behaviours, DV perpetrators need to stop DV actions and replace them with righteous and holy behaviour. Stopping bad behaviour is inadequate to bring about radical change. The old way of living must change, thanks to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s fruit, God wants to see this change:

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Gal 5:22-23 NLT).

Can you imagine what your relationships would be like if these behaviours were demonstrated in your bonds with people, instead of DV?

The apostle Paul told the Corinthians what this means: ‘Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’ (2 Cor 5:17 NLT).


I cannot see any government programme, rally, advertising campaign, or Royal Commission to be effective ultimately in smashing the DV emergency in Australia when the core issue is not being addressed.

DV education programs are worthwhile as a tool to offer help and techniques to resolve the anger outbursts. However, for a long-term solution that works, I know of only one way – an individual becomes a ‘new person’ through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

It’s time for the Christian churches that believe in the Gospel proclamation to step up and demonstrate a true DV solution – proclamation of the Gospel and salvation through Christ – that leads to changed hearts of people. We need to see a deluge of DV perpetrators becoming ‘new persons’ in Christ. This won’t happen without a strong Gospel message in the public square.

Works consulted

Lewis, A & Sarantakos, S 2001. Domestic Violence and the Male Victim. Nuance no. 3 (online), December, 1-15. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

Morgan, A & Chadwick, H 2009. Key issues in domestic violence. Australian Institute of Criminology (online), December. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).


[1] Also known as Hannah Clarke.

[2] Michael McGowan 2020. Brisbane car fire: Hannah Baxter dies of injuries, three children killed in suspected family violence case .(online)., The Guardian Australia Edition, 20 February. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[3] Ibid.

[4] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Federal Government axes funding to peak body representing Indigenous survivors of domestic violence (online)., 6 December. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[5] 9News 2020. ‘This has to be brought to an end’ (online), 21 February. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Coalition pledges an extra $328m to counter domestic violence (online), 5 March. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[8] Queensland Government 2019. The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory. Media Statements (online), 11 November. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[9] ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Federal Government axes funding to peak body representing Indigenous survivors of domestic violence (online), 6 December. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[10] Ibid.

[11] 9News loc. cit.

[12] White Ribbon Australia 2020. Violence against men. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

[13] Headey, Bruce; Scott, Dorothy and de Vaus, David. Domestic Violence in Australia: Are Women and Men Equally Violent? [online]. Australian Social Monitor, Vol. 2, No. 3, July 1999: 57-62. Available at:;dn=759479315231736;res=IELAPA (Accessed 22 Feb 2020)..

[14] Some of these principles are adapted from: Richland Creek Community Church, Wake Forest NC: Put off – put on Worry V1.0. Available at: (Accessed 22 February 2020).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 22 February 2020

Image result for clipart single colored line

Dealing with male domestic violence


Image result for man kicks door

(image courtesy openclipart)

By Spencer D Gear

When sporting icons hound women in pubs, abuse them with obscene phone calls, or have sex with prostitutes, they are acting like thousands of other young Aussie men. This behaviour is not restricted to professional sportsmen.

According to a national survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, since the age of 15, “25% . . .of women experienced unwanted sexual touching compared to 9.9% . . .of men.”[1]

  • This means that approx. 1 in 4 women has experienced domestic violence (DV), compared to 1 in 10 men.
  • DV ranks in the top 5 risks to women’s health in Australia;
  • 1 in 3 children has witnessed DV;
  • DV costs the Australian economy over $8 billion per year;
  • An Access Economics report in 2004, found that 87% of DV is committed by men against women.[2]

That’s why 87% is 100% too many for DV perpetrated by men against women.[3]

What is meant by domestic violence?

Australia’s CEO Challenge, which attempts to address the issues of domestic violence, gives this definition: “Domestic violence is the use of violence by one person to control and dominate another. The term is used to describe any form of abuse that occurs in intimate personal relationships,”[4]

DV can include the physical, sexual, psychological, social isolation, financial, intimidation and controlling abuse of men against women and women against men.

In addressing this troublesome, provocative and sometimes controversial topic of targeting male DV abusers, I have been greatly helped by the seminal work of Dr. Michael Flood of La Trobe University and Chris Laming’s development of “The SHED” project.[5]

Causes of high incidence of male domestic violence

The Better Health Channel reports that these are the common factors:

There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ perpetrator of domestic violence. However, researchers have found that men who abuse family members often:

  • Use violence and emotional abuse to control their families.
  • Believe that they have the right to behave in whatever way they choose while in their own home.
  • Think that a ‘real’ man should be tough, powerful and the head of the household. They may believe that they should make most of the decisions, including about how money is spent.
  • Believe that men are entitled to sex from their partners.
  • Don’t take responsibility for their behaviour and prefer to think that loved ones or circumstances provoked their behaviour.
  • Make excuses for their violence: for example, they will blame alcohol or stress.
  • Report ‘losing control’ when angry around their families, but can control their anger around other people. They don’t tend to use violence in other situations: for example, around friends, bosses, work colleagues or the police.
  • Try to minimise, blame others for, justify or deny their use of violence, or the impact of their violence towards women and children.[6]

What can we do to prevent men’s abuse of women? We need to tackle this on several fronts because this intimate partner violence is caused by a variety of factors.

We face a significant hurdle. Evaluations of primary prevention strategies have been minimal. We have indications that some prevention approaches work but there are many that may be promising but not tested.

We should do all we can to

1. Increase individual knowledge and skills.

Healthy families, strong socio-economic support, and better parenting skills do help to reduce violence. This message needs spreading while support is offered to help such people.

2. Engage in community education regarding DV.

Obtaining access to children and youth in schools may have a positive impact if the education is well-designed for the age group. In my region, many parents do not know how to curb youth abuse in the home. We need creative people in the mass media who will come on board in what Michael Flood calls, “social marketing campaigns,” against male intimate violence.

3. Develop networks of men in the community?

I call on men to step forward to help in targeting groups and sub-cultures that support violence in peer groups. I challenge young men to join me in reaching the sporting sub-cultures and the youth culture where abuse may be tolerated.

4. Educate providers

There seems to be a reticence to work with male perpetrators. I would like to see a change in professional responses in the welfare community not only to deal with victims of domestic violence, but also to offer interventions for perpetrators to change their behaviour. We also need to

5. Influence policies and legislation.

Legal and policy reform is needed to deal with this horrendous problem of male violence against women. We need funding to match the need to help those of us working at the coalface.

What will men do to help prevent DV predators from exerting their power and control over women in our communities?

6. Get to understand the core of what causes domestic violence?

You won’t read this in the government’s reports, the community agencies writings, but it is at the nucleus of this problem. The secular gurus will run a country mile from this kind of explanation.

The prophet Jeremiah put it this way, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV). The greatest early promoter of the Christian message, the apostle Paul, nailed it: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The God-man who changed human history and human hearts, Jesus Christ, stated the core issue with clarity:

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person (Matthew 15:18-20).

Because the sinful human heart is at the core of the problem of evil in our society, no matter how many secular DV solutions are attempted, they will not get to solving the core DV problem. That’s because only the committed Christian can help a DV perpetrator get to the core of his problem.

For a fuller explanation, see Ron Hamman’s assessment: “A biblical view of domestic violence“.

In summary, the core problem is sin and the core solution is a changed heart through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, “Personal Safety, Australia , 2005 (Reissue), available from:[email protected]/cat/4906.0 [6 June 2009].

[2] Australia’s CEO Challenge, “What is domestic violence?” available from: [6 June 2009].

[3] The above details are from QCA Contact (Queensland Counsellors’ Association), June 2007, available from: [6 June 2009].

[4] Australia’s CEO Challenge, loc. cit..

[5] The SHED Group manual is available online at: [12 May 2007].

[6] “Domestic Violence – why men abuse women,” The Better Health Channel, available from: [6 June 2009].


Copyright © 2009 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 September 2018.


Why do men abuse women? Men are primary domestic violence perpetrators

Blue ribbon vector  clip art

(public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

I would like you to meet Monte. You won’t recognise him by name. He is a composite of many abusive males I have counselled over the years.

As a male family counsellor, I have spent many years working with men and women in conflict. Monte could abuse his wife and not realise the impact on his wife and children. She could tell him at home and in counselling about how it hurt her and the kids with his uncaring dominance.

Yet he wants her to respond positively to his sexual advances at night and is miffed when she refuses him.

By abuse, I mean those who use mental abuse through their words (swearing & put downs). They cut off the money and refuse to allow spouses to meet with friends. Some are very demanding sexually. Occasionally they hurt the partner physically.

Monte is like one of these men. He can swear at his spouse, accuse her of being unfaithful, and threaten to toss her out of the house.

When I work with abusive men, I try to help them see the link among, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and their actions.

What beliefs cause men to eventually abuse their women? Three seem to be prominent.

Firstly, when a man makes himself central or king pin in the relationship, he will disregard the effects of his swear words and other insults on her. He will not be able to walk in her shoes and feel as she feels (it’s called a lack of empathy).

Secondly, some men believe that men are superior and become super sensitive and defensive when there are any threats to that superiority. Monte was like that. He would demand that his wife always agree with him and do things his way. Why? Because he was the expert in many things. He was the only one who could be right!

Thirdly, men who abuse sometimes exclaim, “I don’t deserve to be treated this way.” They expect a certain level of care and love, otherwise they will continue to abuse the wife.

These three belief systems often lead to angry and aggressive men who abuse their wives or partners.

Is there any hope for change? There was for Monte. He realised that he had inherited the view that a man was the centre of the universe from his father. When he woke up to the fact that this was a core reason for such horrible conflict in his relationship, he changed. But it started with his beliefs being challenged.

Is there hope for men who abuse? Absolutely! But the beliefs need to be addressed at the foundation.

I wish you could meet Monte today. He is a radically changed man. But he took responsibility for changing his beliefs and in turn he changed his behaviour. There is hope for men who abuse!

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.