What is FSV?
In PNG, terms such as sexual violence, gender-based violence, child abuse, family violence, domestic violence and intimate partner violence are sometimes used interchangeably.
We use the term family and sexual violence or FSV to talk about these kinds of violence.
FSV covers a wide range of types of violence. In general, Femili PNG helps people who have experienced:
- Intimate partner violence – such as violence from spouse
- Sexual violence – such as rape or sexual assault
- Any forms of child abuse – physical, emotional, neglect, sexual, and child labour.
- Sorcery accusation-related violence or SARV – such as being accused of sanguma or using sorcery.
However, violence can take many forms and might not fit with any of the definitions above. It also does not have to be physical.
The PNG Family Protection Act says that all forms of domestic violence are illegal. Domestic violence is defined as:
- A person commits an act of domestic violence if he or she does any of the following acts against a family member:
- Assaults the family member (whether or not there is evidence of a physical injury) or
- Psychologically abuses, harasses or intimidates the family member or
- Sexually abuses the family member or
- Stalks the family member so as to cause him or her apprehension or fear or
- Behaves in an indecent or offensive manner to the family member or
- Damages or causes damage to the family member’s property; or
- Threatens to do any of the acts in paragraphs (a), (c) or (f)
- Without limiting Paragraph (1) (d), a person may stalk another person by –
- Following the person or
- Watching the person or
- Loitering outside the premises where the person lives, works or frequents for the purpose of any social or leisure activity or
- Making persistent telephone calls, sending persistent text messages or other forms of communications to the person or to the premises where the person lives or works.
- For avoidance of doubt –
- A single act may amount to an act of domestic violence and
- A number of acts that form part of a pattern of behaviour may amount to domestic violence even though some or all of those acts when viewed in isolation may appear to be minor or trivial.
Is FSV a big issue in Papua New Guinea?
FSV is a big global issue. It affects women, men and children in all walks of life, regardless of education, status, race, culture, religion and people living with disability.
It negatively impacts families and communities as it has short- and long-term health and psychological consequences.
Research shows that 2 out of 3 women experience violence in Papua New Guinea.
Femili PNG works to assist these women by providing effective client services and fostering strong partnerships to address FSV.
What is the cycle of violence?
The theory that domestic violence occurs in a cycle was developed in 1979 by Lenore Walker as a result of a study conducted in the United States.
The cycle goes through a number of stages. However, it is acknowledged that it is not the same for everyone and some people may experience only some stages of the cycle or not relate to it at all.
This phase may begin with normal relations between the people in the relationship, but involves escalating tension marked by increased verbal, emotional or financial abuse. In non-violent relationships these issues can normally be resolved between the people in the relationship.
This phase can be extremely frightening for people affected by domestic and family violence. The behaviour of the person who uses violence in relationships escalates to the point that a release of tension is inevitable. The person affected may feel that they are ‘walking on eggshells’ and fear that anything they do will cause the situation to deteriorate further.
The explosion stage marks the peak of violence in the relationship. It is the height of abuse by the person who uses violence to control and have power over others. The person who commits domestic and family violence experiences a release of tension during an explosion phase, which may become addictive. They may be unable to deal with their anger any other way.
At the remorse stage, the person who uses domestic and family violence in their relationship feels ashamed of their behaviour. They retreat and become withdrawn from the relationship. They try and justify their actions to themselves and to others, unaware they are actually addicted to the release they have just experienced.
At this stage, the person who uses domestic and family violence in relationships promises to the other person affected, never to be violent again. They may try to make up for their past behaviour during this period and say that other factors have caused them to be violent, for example, work stress, drugs, or alcohol. The violent offender may purchase gifts, and give the person affected attention. Also, the violent offender may go through a dramatic personality change. The person affected by the violence will feel hurt, but possibly relieved that the violence is over.
During the honeymoon phase of the cycle of violence, both people in the relationship may be in denial as to how bad the abuse and violence was. Both people do not want the relationship to end, so are happy to ignore the possibility that the violence could occur again. After some time, this stage will fade and the cycle may begin again.