Domestic Violence in Ireland: an Overview of National Strategic Policy and Relevant International Literature on Prevention and Intervention Initiatives in Service Provision
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Introduction In order to address the problem of domestic violence from a strategic and evidence based perspective it is necessary to have a broad understanding of the current national and international policy and practice initiatives relating to this issue. In developing strategies to guide future service planning and provision it is important to be cognisant of contemporary findings from academic and practice arenas and incorporate key learning into service development at the strategic and front-line levels. Therefore, the purpose of this document is two-fold: (i) to provide a detailed account of the Irish legislative and institutional context in which those planning for, and providing services to, victims and perpetrators of domestic violence operate; and (ii) to present a conceptualisation of domestic violence as a means of understanding its causes, consequences, and prevention and intervention strategies based on a review of international literature. In particular, the role of the health services and health professionals in developing and implementing such strategies is outlined and discussed. It is envisaged that the in-depth nature of this review, taking into account current policy and practice trends and developments, both nationally and internationally, will provide strategic direction to those responsible in the HSE for developing and providing domestic violence services. More specifically, the objectives of this review are: (a) To inform HSE service providers on the current strategic policy regarding domestic violence in Ireland; (b) To contribute to operational policy and planning regarding domestic violence service provision in the health and social services; (c)To facilitate HSE management and health and social service professionals in the development and enhancement of prevention and intervention initiatives regarding domestic violence. The document is divided into three sections. The first section provides a summary of the Irish policy context relating to domestic violence. In particular, it examines the following themes: - Definitions of domestic violence in use in Ireland; - The extent of domestic violence in Ireland; - Major policy and legislative initiatives in place to address domestic violence;5 - A brief account of statutory and voluntary service provision to victims of domestic violence. The second section details key points of learning extracted from a search of international theoretical and evidence-based literature. It describes the key findings from the international literature on the prevention and intervention of domestic violence in developed countries. The literature was sourced through extensive library searches using electronic databases including: Academic and Business Source Premier (EBSCO), JSTOR, Zetoc, Web of Science (ISI), and ScienceDirect (Elsevier). The Google Scholar web based search engine was also used. Some of the main areas covered in this section include: - The extent of health outcomes for women and children resulting from domestic violence; - Conceptual frameworks regarding the problem of domestic violence; - Universal and targeted strategies utilised to address both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence; - The role of health professionals in addressing domestic violence; - The Criminal Justice approach and interventions; - Evaluative work relating to domestic violence prevention and intervention strategies. The third section concludes with a brief overview of the strategic policy context of domestic violence. A series of high-level strategic points emanating from sections 1 and 2 are then summarised. Nine core principles are then outlined from the relevant literature, as a normative guide to those working in the highly sensitive area of domestic violence. The frameworks with which to address the problem, namely the public health approach, the ecological model, and the three prevention levels are then reiterated. Based on these an action model for domestic violence service provision is outlined. This report was drafted and initially circulated to the HSE National Strategy Group on Domestic Violence for comment and opinion. As a result, the third section of the report was redrafted as outlined above in partnership with the strategy group, based on their desire for translating the key findings of the report into a framework for practice.