Violence Against Women
Violence against women by their domestic partners is recognized as a major international public health problem in both developed and developing countries. Australia, Western Australia, in particular, is no exception.
Gender Considerations: Intimate partner violence also involves female-to-male partner violence and same sex partner violence. However, male-to-female partner violence occurs much more frequently and with far more serious consequences in terms of injury and death. In 1994, Western Australian females were victims in 91.4% of domestic violence cases and males in 8.6%.
Health Costs: Victims of family and domestic violence are at increased risk of injury, and gynecological problems, have twice as many miscarriages, and have higher levels of stress and anxiety, depression, and psychiatric illness. Victims are also more likely to attempt or commit suicide, abuse drugs, have an alcohol problem, and suffer from social isolation.
Family Consequences: Intimate partner violence not only has major consequences for the physical and mental health of the women, but also has major consequences for children and other family members. Children affected by witnessing violence in the home may display nervous and withdrawn behavior, anxiety, adjustment problems, few social interests, poor school performance, bedwetting, restlessness, psychosomatic illness, excessive cruelty to animals, and aggressive language and behavior. The children (who may also be victims of domestic violence) are at higher risk of being a victim or perpetrator in their future relationships.
Economic Costs: The estimated cost of assisting 20 victims of domestic violence in Western Australia in 1989 was more than $1 million. A more recent analysis which includes direct and indirect costs estimated the annual cost of domestic violence to be over $1.5 billion. The study showed that over half the costs ($800 million) are borne by the women themselves; the cost to the Commonwealth and the State Governments is $400 million and the remainder of the cost is to other people such as employers.
Costs: The costs of such violence must include jail
time, emergency ward treatments, hospital bed nights, placements
for family members who leave their homes, and lives
lost in homicides and suicides. There also are enormous costs in
terms of children’s lost happiness, as well as the fear that
all victims experience.
|Complex psychological factors on the parts of the perpetrator and the victim contribute to the occurrences and patterns of domestic violence. Many violent men were the victims of violence when young, either directly or via exposure to parental violence. Program planners proposed that lack of support, assistance, and intervention for male perpetrators was an important factor that had been minimally addressed previously.|
|Program planners considered male perpetrators and men at risk for committing domestic violence (ages 15-40) as key groups to target. Secondary audiences would be professional experts and service providers for non-English speaking males and Aboriginal males.|
Planners consulted the Health Belief Model and the Stages of Change Model for conceptual guidance. These models suggested moving the target audiences through the various stages of change, in a phased approach over time, by:
The strategy team included both internal and external partners.
There was high-level official support for a comprehensive approach that would reduce domestic violence. The program coordinators sought to work with all relevant stakeholders—both the government and the private sector—in a highly political and sensitive area. The coordinators put in place an intensive statewide consultation process to address these issues.
The program coordinators and research consultants designed questions to gain understanding of:
research plans included conducting a literature search and conducting
qualitative research. See the Campaign Research and Evaluation
Women were not included in this stage of research.
A literature search gathered existing information and research regarding violent and potentially violent men.
Donovan Research handled recruiting and asked an expert criminologist from the University of Western Australia’s Crime Research Center to provide advice, assist with planning, and serve as moderator for the perpetrator groups.
General population males: Fifteen focus groups took place with males 15-40 years old, stratified by age and socio-economic status. Nine of the groups took place in Perth and six groups in four regional towns in Western Australia.
Perpetrators: Three group discussions, arranged through organizations providing counseling programs, were held with violent men. All participants were in treatment programs, some voluntarily and others court mandated. Their participation in the group discussions was voluntary. Counselors were on hand to debrief the men if issues were raised that needed attention, and a criminologist assisted in planning and moderating the initial groups.
The formative research, with general population males 15-40 years old, and violent and potentially violent men, provided a wealth of information to use in designing a campaign.
Research with all men
The research with perpetrators showed that:
In summary: the research identified the need for a prevention focus targeting both violent and potentially violent men. Messages would need to avoid an accusatory or blaming tone because that would cause the target audiences to reject the information.
The research determined that the initial focus of the campaign would be on physical violence (or threats of violence) committed by men against women. It is intended that future phases will address sexual assault and emotional/psychological aspects of domestic violence.
on reaction to potential strategies:
Criminal Sanctions: a traditional emphasis on legal threats. Participants felt this would not significantly decrease violence and that it was not entirely credible.
Community Intervention: an approach encouraging friends and neighbors to report domestic violence or intervene with the perpetrator or victim. Participants said the theme lacked credibility because they felt other people would be reluctant to get involved.
Social Disapproval: a theme emphasizing shame and embarrassment (i.e., “real men don’t hit women”). Perpetrators doubted the credibility of such an approach
Consequences: a theme based on the impact of the violence on their partner and children. Researchers tested two separate themes relating to consequences.
Help is Available: a theme emphasizing that help is available if the man desires to change. There was broad support for a media campaign to publicize counseling and treatment programs.
In summary, the research found that seeing the damage to children from partner violence was the best motivator for violent (or near-violent) men to accept responsibility for their behavior and seek help to change. This finding was confirmed through three subsequent rounds of testing.
Target Audience Segments
Primary Target Audience
Violent men, or perpetrators; i.e., men who are physically violent against their domestic partners, acknowledge it as a problem, and are not currently in treatment. While these men may not take full responsibility for their behavior, they can be reached.
Secondary Target Audience
The second identified target audience segment were men 15-40 years old "at risk" of committing domestic violence. Potentially violent men were defined as those subjecting their partner to non-physical forms of abuse (e.g., emotional abuse, financial deprivation, social isolation). There is evidence that these non-physical forms of abuse are often precursors to physical abuse.
Those individuals who might encourage the target audience segments to seek assistance, including:
perpetrators still in a strong state of denial were not part of the
target audience for this campaign. Great care had to be taken to
ensure that children who witnessed partner violence did not think
they needed to act on the campaign messages AND were not traumatized
by the campaign messages.
Potentially violent men:
The benefits offered to the target audience were:
There were a number of behavior change goals.
campaign strategy to reach and engage the primary target audience—violent
and potentially violent men—had three integrally linked elements:
Program coordinators decided not to apply traditional interventions often used in domestic violence cases because they do not usually change the behavior. Traditional interventions include the following.
Instead, the planners of the Western Australian ‘Freedom From Fear’ campaign aimed to reduce women’s and children’s fear by encouraging violent and potentially violent men to voluntarily attend counseling—or ‘batterer’—programs.
The Marketing Mix: The Four Ps
Product: offering new services
Overall, the market research found that a substantial number of violent and potentially violent men could be reached by, and would respond to, a campaign that offered formal assistance.
The research also found that the key to reaching this target audience was to avoid being judgmental; instead, it was critical to focus on the effects of violence on children as the motivator to take action.
As a result of the research findings, the “effect on children” theme was adopted as the key strategy for influencing behavior change.
Both violent and potentially violent men and men in the general community who participated in the research endorsed the theme “help is available. This theme was adopted to support and complement the “effect on children” strategy.
The content of the Helpline advertising was to be clearly non-punitive and to communicate the simple and clear message that help was available to violent—and potentially violent—men.
Although domestic violence occurs across all income levels, preliminary investigations and service-provider experience suggested that fees for courses and materials could serve as a barrier—or be rationalized as such—for many members of the primary target audience.
As a result, the materials and most counseling programs were provided at no cost to participants who were referred through the Helpline. This pricing strategy was also considered more equitable to ensure that victims of low income perpetrators would not be disadvantaged by their partner’s limited income.
To minimize potential psychological and legal costs, the Helpline assured anonymity and the counselors were trained to deal with shame and embarrassment issues. It is the need for anonymity that required the use of the Helpline as the first point of contact for these men, with mass media advertising creating awareness and motivating contact.
Service providers were located throughout the Metropolitan area and in six regional areas throughout the state. Programs offered schedules that allowed employed males access during non-working hours.
During this phase of the campaign, access to programs (but not to telephone counseling) was geographically limited outside major population centers.
Telephone counseling and the self-help booklets would be especially useful for those not able to access a Counseling Program. The Helpline was staffed by counselors during the night to provide maximal access.
Helpline counselors sought to engage callers and refer as many qualified callers as possible into free counseling programs where they can obtain help to reduce their violent behavior.
Counseling programs were designed to provide violent and potentially violent men with support and violence reduction/prevention tactics they could engage in.
The communications interventions sought to create and maintain awareness of the Helpline. They also encouraged violent and potentially violent men to take actions to voluntarily call the Helpline and enter counseling programs. This was intended to reduce the effect of violence on their children and to minimize the barrier of potential judicial action against them.
|Strategy team members continued on as planning team members.|
Example of short-term delivery and reach objective:
Example of short-term outcome objective:
Examples of long-term outcome objectives:
Write the program plan, including timeline and budget, for each intervention. The program plan included the Helpline, telephone counselors and outreach to target audiences. See Campaign Overview Flowchart.
|Timeline information is embedded in the substeps below.|
Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline
The Western Australian Department of Family and Children’s Services would provide the Helpline, which would be staffed 24 hours a day, although counseling would be available only after 9:00 am daily. The Helpline was designed to:
The telephone counselors were:
This substep was not part of the strategy.
This substep was not part of the strategy.
First, the campaign produced three 30-second television commercials, “Nightmare,” “Horror Movie” and “Back Seat,” plus three 15-second versions of those commercials. An additional 15-second commercial was titled “Break the Cycle.” All the commercials were used to create impact and awareness of the campaign messages. They also were designed to lead “at risk” men to call the helpline.
Second, to address the fact that people might tune out the first set of commercials, the campaign developed a second set of advertisements. Two 15-second commercials focused on the effects of domestic violence on the family, especially the children. The other two 15-second commercials communicated the message that help is available.
Self-help booklets provided tips on how to control violence and how to contact service providers. The self-help booklets were also made available on audio-cassettes for men with literacy difficulties.
Campaign Information Packs containing posters advertising the Helpline and information about the campaign for the appropriate work site professionals—usually the Occupational health and Safety Officer or Human Resources Manager—were mailed to work sites with help from trade unions.
Print materials for this program include:
The campaign asked five advertising agencies to submit preliminary creative concepts for a community education campaign based on the formative research findings. The Domestic Violence Prevention Unit commissioned Donovan Research to pre-test a selection of these creative concepts. See the Campaign Research and Evaluation Flowchart.
Six concepts based on the findings of the qualitative research were tested in storyboard form with: violent and potentially violent men (the primary target audience); general population males and females; victims; children exposed to domestic violence; and various stakeholder representatives.
A total of 17 focus groups and eight individual interviews were conducted in Perth and country areas. Individual written reaction to the concepts were obtained prior to any group discussion using a modified ADTEST® questionnaire, based on standard advertising pre-test measures (Rossiter & Percy 1997).
In the perpetrator groups, counselors were on hand to assist non-literate men complete the questionnaires and to deal with issues that required attention. The major focus of this stage was on the credibility of the concept message, the realism of the depicted situation, and the capacity of the message to stimulate violent men to think about seeking help to stop their violence.
The concept testing identified three concepts that were considered potentially most effective: “Nightmare,” “Horror movie” and “Back Seat.”
The concepts were developed to animatic stage and then tested to ascertain how well each execution met the overall campaign objects and to provide information on how to improve successful executions.
All three concepts performed acceptably on all the crucial ADTEST® measures, with the diagnostic data suggesting several ways to increase their effectiveness.
Researchers conducted a total of 302 interviews in the metropolitan area with 15-40 year-old men, some of whom were defined as "at risk."
The following are selected results combined across all three ads (Donovan Research 1998):
As the key element of the message strategy was to focus on consequences for children, most of the concepts would portray small children being exposed to domestic violence. It was crucial that children did not misunderstand the ads and think they were being asked to call the Helpline or that they should ask their father to call the Helpline.
In addition, it was critical that the ads, although scheduled to be run only at "adult times," not trigger clinical stress symptoms in children, especially children of victims. Donovan Research engaged a child psychologist to help with the concept testing with children. Groups of children at selected women’s shelters were shown the advertising materials while the child psychologist observed and probed the children’s reactions.
In addition, the ads were tested with migrants and Aboriginal communities to ensure that they were not culturally offensive in any way.
Appropriate modifications were then made to the ads before final production.
All finished ads were shown to stakeholders for final approval before
going to air.
A combination of strategies would support the campaign, including:
Factors that could help the campaign succeed included those listed in the SWOT analysis and:
Factors that could hurt the campaign included those listed in the SWOT analysis and:
The campaign kept in touch with stakeholders and got input from them throughout the campaign. Planners engage the stakeholders, got their input, and asked their commitment to support the campaign throughout the implementation and the surveys that would be conducted before, during, and after the program.
Research was conducted to examine:
It was determined that the evaluation should measure the following:
In the first seven months of the campaign, a three-wave statewide random telephone survey would be conducted. In each wave, approximately 400 males, 18-40 years old, who were in a heterosexual relationship, or intending to be in the future would be interviewed.
Respondents would be selected at random from a selection of lower socioeconomic suburbs within the Perth metropolitan area, and at random within the remainder of Western Australia. The sample would generated by a combination of computer-generated random digit telephone numbers for the country numbers, and a random selection of metropolitan telephone numbers based on pre-selected area codes.
The three surveys would take place:
Standard research techniques would be used to analyze the data and develop a report on the findings. The report would be disseminated to the program managers as well as to all partners/stakeholders. Feedback would be collected from stakeholders and, as appropriate, used to modify the strategies, messages and interventions.
For example, findings from evaluating the first two sets of commercials
would be used to identify the timing of a third set of ads and their
messages. The evaluation results also would be used in developing Phase
2 of the campaign.
Prior to the launch, the program coordinators:
The campaign was launched on August 26, 1998 with a formal media event that was the rollout for various interventions.
The state government funded six new perpetrator and five new victim/children’s counseling programs.
The Men's Domestic Violence Helpline (MDVH) became operational with trained counselors provided a number of services to callers, including:
The campaign distributed various materials. Self-help booklets were available on audio-cassettes for men with literacy difficulties. The publications were combined into "Campaign Information Packs" and provided to a variety of individuals and organizations, including worksites.
The campaign implemented extensive public relations activities. They included having campaign representatives make repeated visits to women's groups, police, counseling professionals and other government departments to continually update them on campaign developments. Click below to see a graphic depiction of how the interventions that work to support and reinforce the key campaign messages, and create environments that promote and sustain intentions towards and actual behavior change.
See the Mass Media Umbrella.
The campaign conducted the planned three waves of surveys, with about 400 men participating in each wave. The surveys measured various aspects of the campaign, including program reach, awareness of and calls to the Helpline, and attitude changes. The results and their implications provided guidance for revising the activities.
The research showed that a number of positive belief and attitude effects began to emerge.
By Wave 2 of the evaluation, 21% of respondents exposed to the campaign stated that the campaign had “changed the way they thought about domestic violence.” In Wave 2, when asked who suffered most from domestic violence, 58% of all respondents agreed that “domestic violence affects the whole family,” rather than just the children or the woman victim (vs. 21% prior to the campaign and 34% in Wave 1).
The proportion of the total sample agreeing that ‘occasional slapping of their partner’ is never justified increased from 38% before the campaign to 52% in Wave 2.
‘Product Purchase’: Helpline Calls and Referrals to Counseling Services
By late 1999, the Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline had received 3610 calls, 2250 from members of the primary target group, including 1487 men who reported physically abusing their female partner. Of these self-identified perpetrators, just over half agreed to a referral to a service provider. See Number of Calls to Men's Domestic Violence Helpline Table.
The absolute numbers calling the Helpline and being referred to counseling programs were considered sufficient—from both a financial and social cost viewpoint—to justify continuing and extending the campaign.
Conclusions for Phase 1
Either of these options would be considered a desirable intermediate outcome for the campaign and point to campaign success.
Based on the ongoing research, modifications were made to the products and services as needed throughout the first phase of the campaign.
For example, Wave 1 survey results indicated that the “help is available” message was not coming through strongly. As a result, the intervention was modified by holding that message on screen longer in future ads. In addition, a new 15-second ad was made showing a man holding a telephone. Substantial increases in calls in the next two months reflected that the modifications to the ads, based on Wave 1 findings, were effective.
The success of the campaign was helped by:
Future Campaign Directions
Phase 2 of the campaign was designed to establish additional distribution channels for counseling services—utilizing lessons learned from the first phase.
There are two major areas of focus:
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