Victim-blaming discourse underpinning police responses to domestic violence: A critical social work perspective.


  • Vesna Emma Clark The University of Sydney


Framed by research into victim and police officer perceptions of police responses to domestic violence, the adequacy of a law enforcement response to an inherently complex issue such as domestic violence has long been subjected to academic debate. Police responses are failing to adequately address and respond to the needs, expectations and preferences of victims due to overarching victim-blaming discourse situated within a male-dominated and patriarchal police culture. Through the application of critical social work theory and postmodernism, this article critically analyses, challenges and attempts to subvert victim-blaming discourse inherent within police responses to domestic violence. It is argued that victim-blaming discourse, attitudes and practices invalidate and silence women, leading to revictimisation whilst failing to promote perpetrator accountability and placing victims at further risk of harm. As a critical area of practice for social work in the 21st century, recommendations and implications for practice are outlined and further explored.

Author Biography

Vesna Emma Clark, The University of Sydney

Social Work Student at The University of Sydney


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Student edition 2021