Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Diversity of Roles Played by Aboriginal Men in Domestic Violence in Quebec

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Diversity of Roles Played by Aboriginal Men in Domestic Violence in Quebec

Article excerpt

There is much evidence that domestic violence is highly prevalent among aboriginal(l) families in Canada (Jones, 2008). Research shows that domestic violence is the costliest and most common social and economic problem in aboriginal communities (Bourque, 2008; Brownridge, 2003; LaRocque, 1994) and that it represents a grave threat to the general health and wellbeing of families (Bopp, Bopp & Lane, 2003). A recent study reported that 21% of Aboriginal people (24% of women, 18% of men) claimed to have been victims of violence at the hands of a current or previous spouse or common-law partner over a fiveyear period (Statistics Canada, 2009). It has also been shown that Canadian Aboriginal men are five times more likely to experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner compared to non-aboriginal men (Brownridge, 2010).

Despite this evidence, little research has been conducted on domestic violence among aboriginal couples, with very few studies focusing specifically on the experience of aboriginal men affected by this issue. Montminy, Brassard, Jaccoud, Harper, Bousquet and Leroux (2011) argued that the point of view and experience of men are "frequently overlooked and yet they should be seen as an integral part of the relational dynamics at the heart of domestic violence incidents" (p. 62). Research shows that focusing on the multiple experiences and realities of aboriginal men is critical if we want to reduce domestic violence among this population and promote the development of social measures that are more emancipating than mass incarceration (Flynn, Lessard, Montminy & Brassard, 2013). In short, all the evidence points to the importance of understanding the discourse of aboriginal men on domestic violence and the dynamic and interactional nature of domestic violence incidents.

It is also important to emphasize from the outset that domestic violence among aboriginal peoples cannot be understood without taking into account the broader historical and cultural context. In Canada, the process of colonization, accompanied by a range of assimilation policies, led to significant structural changes in traditional aboriginal families (Weaver, 2009). Aboriginal families tend to see colonization as having led to the loss of their land, autonomy and spiritual traditions, as well as having profoundly disrupted their social structures and domestic roles (Bopp & al., 2003; Jaccoud & Brassard, 2003; Weaver, 2009). In this sense, domestic violence appears to be a symptom of family deconstruction fed and sustained by a social environment promoting stereotypes that are demeaning to Canadian aboriginal peoples (Brownridge, 2003). As "both colonization and colonialism are [...] unique sociohistorical determinants that anchor transformations of sense of self and one's view of one's place" (Greenwood & De Leeuw, 2012, p. 382), the importance of conducting a qualitative study among aboriginal men in Quebec with experience of domestic violence is clear.2 The present article describes one of the key subjective dimensions of men's experience in this area: their diverse roles in domestic violence. Their roles are examined by considering the interactional nature of domestic violence in an aboriginal context. Below we aim to demonstrate how taking into consideration men's perspectives and roles in domestic violence incidents opens the way for approaches other than the socio-judicial treatment of domestic violence.

FROM COLONIZATION TO CHANGING DOMESTIC ROLES

Studies of domestic violence in aboriginal couples have invariably found that violence is intimately linked to the history of colonization and poor living conditions (Hamby, 2000; Jones, 2008; Larocque, 1994). This issue must be seen against the backdrop of a broader context of social pressures brought about by the effects of assimilation policies imposed on aboriginal populations (Weaver, 2009). The rapid social upheavals experienced by aboriginal peoples as a result of colonization caused significant disruption in families. …

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