NEW ABUSE: Technology presents new challenges when it comes to managing domestic violence
NEW ABUSE: Technology presents new challenges when it comes to managing domestic violence Luka Kauzlaric

Common thread between black eyes, broken bones and social media

TECHNOLOGY has changed the face of domestic violence, it's not just black eyes and broken bones anymore.

Abusive text messages, phone calls and the posting of sexually explicit photos are all new ways in which men can victimise their partners without even being in the same room.

Ken McMaster is a social worker specialising in men's behaviour who has worked with violent men for decades and helps develop programs to assist men in changing their abusive ways.

"I've been a strong advocate for 30 years around the need for intervention for men and programs because men basically move on from one relationship to another relationship and they create a lot of havoc behind them,” Ken said.

"It makes sense to get a bit of intervention done to stop victimisation down the track.

"As men we are reluctant help seekers, we think we can just dig in and do it ourselves.”

Ken McMaster has been working with male sexual and violent offenders for the last 30 years.
Ken McMaster has been working with male sexual and violent offenders for the last 30 years. Contributed

Over his time working in the industry Ken has seen social media and technology adding to the ways women can be victimised and abused.

"What we're seeing now with social media particularly is the forms of abusive practice are changing,” Ken said.

"You've still got the perennial stuff, the physical stuff, the sexual stuff, emotional bullying and verbal abuse all that same stuff is there.

"What we are seeing now is a lot more online abuse, texting is a fairly common way to abuse someone.

"Stuff that happens in the privacy of the relationship like sexting... when the relationship goes sour that's getting put into a more public place.

"There are more ways to monitor people's movements now so this space is changing a lot.

"We are having to think a lot more about these subtle ongoing forms of abusive practice.”

Chris Tison, Cherie Turner, Jessica Farlow and Paul Bennett at Allenstown Hotel for White Ribbon Day.Photo Liam Fahey / Morning Bulletin
Chris Tison, Cherie Turner, Jessica Farlow and Paul Bennett at Allenstown Hotel for White Ribbon Day.Photo Liam Fahey / Morning Bulletin Liam Fahey

The programs Ken has helped developed address all abusive behaviours men struggle to overcome by teaching them skills to effectively manage situations where they are likely to act out.

"Increasingly we do a lot of work in this field around making sure men are a lot more skill orientated when it comes to intervention so they can walk out the door with some things they can do differently,” Ken said.

"A lot of work we're doing is getting men to predict what are the situations they're likely to find difficult to manage and keep yourself and other people safe.

"If we know those, we can start to predict those and plan for those.”

Just as there are many forms of domestic violence, there are many warning signs men display that may signal the potential for violent behaviour.

"Some of the signs we look for really are when they are jealous of their partner,” Ken said.

"They start to get those twitchy feelings and feelings of jealousy we think that often leaves to more high-risk behaviour and controlling behaviour.

"We have another group of men who often get distressed when situations happen like separation and many men will start to act quite dangerously at that point in time.

"Many men find themselves getting fluttered and overwhelmed, the ability to respond really well and safely in those moments is pretty tough.”

Ken said it's not easy for men to overcome and move on from being violent towards their partners, but everyone has the ability to change their ways when it comes to domestic violence and manage their feelings in a constructive way.

"For people to say these guys don't change, I'd make the counter argument you're saying as human beings we can't change,” Ken said.

"Everyone has the possibility of changing, we say that about all sorts of behaviour.

"Once we find those motivations for change often people do really well.

"You've got to man up to the stuff in many ways and face up to your inner self.”



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