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Condoning violence against women

Condoning violence against women

Gender inequality creates the social conditions for violence against women to occur. There are four key expressions of gender inequality that have been found to predict or drive this violence. To prevent violence against women, we must focus our efforts on addressing these drivers. The condoning of violence against women is one of these drivers.

What does condoning violence against women mean?

Condoning violence against women is excusing, downplaying, justifying or denying violence, or blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator.

VicHealth expands on this definition to include attitudes and behaviours that:

  • excuse violence by attributing it to external factors (such as stress) or proposing that men cannot be held fully responsible for their violent behaviour (for example, because of anger or sexual urges);
  • justify violence against women, based on the notion that its legitimate for a man to use violence against a woman;
  • trivialise the impact of violence, based on the view that the impacts of violence are not serious or are not sufficiently serious to warrant action;
  • minimise violence by denying its seriousness, denying that it occurs or denying that certain behaviours are indeed violence at all; and
  • shift blame for the violence from the perpetrator to the victim or hold women at least partially responsible for their victimisation or for preventing victimisation.

The socio-ecological model

Attitudes that condone violence against women play a major role in shaping the way individuals, organisations and communities respond to violence. The socio-ecological model comes from the public health field and is used to help explain how violence is a product of multiple, interacting factors at the individual, organisational, systemic and societal levels.

The four gendered drivers exist at all of these levels and are the social conditions which predict, or ‘drive’, higher levels of violence against women.

Reinforcing factors interact with the gendered drivers at the individual and relationship level to increase the probability, frequency and severity of this violence.

Adapted from Change the Story, Our Watch (2015)

Rates of family violence and violence against women are higher when societies, institutions, communities or individuals condone this violence. Looking at how this driver manifests within different settings where people live, learn, work, socialise and play, can help you to plan your approach to addressing it and prevent violence against women before it occurs. The more areas across society where violence-supportive attitudes, behaviours and structures are challenged and rejected, the more we will be able to prevent violence against women before it happens.

Condoning violence against women takes many shapes and forms.  

At an individual or relationship level condoning violence against women can look like:

Speech bubble with the words 'Excusing boys and mens mean or aggressive behaviour as 'boys will be boys' or ignoring phrases like 'treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen'.

At an organisational or community level, condoning violence against women can look like:

Speech bubble with the words 'Sporting clubs allowing perpetrators of violence to continue playing with little consequence - putting the organisation's reputation first rather than support for the victim or holding the perpetrator to account.'

At an institutional or systemic level, condoning violence against women can look like:

Speech bubble with the words 'Magistrates insinuating in their judgements that the victim's behaviour was a factor in her experience.'

At a societal level, condoning violence against women can look like:

Speech bubble with the words 'Public portrayals of men who use violence against women as passionate, protective, mentally ill, alcoholic or drug addict, minimising or excusing their choice to use violence.'

What are some actions you can take to challenge attitudes and behaviours that condone violence against women?