Violence and abuse issues: cross‐cultural perspectives for health and social services

Jill Manthorpe (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London, London, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 10 October 2011



Manthorpe, J. (2011), "Violence and abuse issues: cross‐cultural perspectives for health and social services", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 285-286.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

In a wide ranging book Hoff and her colleagues focus on violence and exploitation as public health issues. While the text suggests that there is a multi‐disciplinary readership intended, the focus is on health services in the main. This is not a problem since there is much to explore and debate when the subject is so broad in scope as violence and abuse. One particular welcome theme of the book is that both violence and abuse are looked at from preventative and survivorship models. The additions of international comparisons and case examples are also interesting although, as might be expected, there is great variation in what is presented from different cultures and the depth of engagement that is possible with some of the examples.

Hoff takes a broad definition of violence, but rests on a social model or definition of it as a social phenomenon. This, she argues, necessitates a social response and also teamwork between different professionals and sectors. Both can help reduce the risk of victim blaming, which she sees as a common thread in many contexts. While the text does not portray violence and abuse as only issues concerning women and girls, Hoff argues that because these affect many more women than men as victims or survivors then it is entirely appropriate for services and professionals to take a gendered perspective to the subjects.

Most of the 13 chapters of this book engage at the end with implications for practice. Some of these will be commonly encountered in many UK settings. They include advocating for the routine questions about abuse in healthcare encounters and co‐ordinating responses to immediate allegations of sexual violence, such as rape. Training is advocated for professionals to help provide expert evidence, but also support with disclosure. While much of this is focused on domestic violence, the chapter on elder abuse (Chapter 7 by Joyce Hallisey) notes the numerous potential opportunities for health care professionals to talk with older people on their own.

Less commonly encountered in UK texts are discussions of engagement with indigenous communities around violence and abuse issues. Here, in Chapter 8, there are some details of intervention programmes with communities around prevention and changes of culture that are sensitive to other forms of oppression. Further, in Chapter 9, there is a discussion of the health care role in supporting people who are migrants or have been subject to human trafficking and have been subject to torture, witnessed conflict, or been subject to other forms of abuse. Health care professionals are alerted to these risks and charged with becoming familiar with local support networks. Towards the conclusion of the book, in Chapter 11, there is a brief discussion of violence, bullying and abuse in schools and workplaces. This notes the risk to professionals working in the areas of abuse and violence of becoming burnt out or developing compassion fatigue. Hoff recommends that staff need time out for reflection and that, more generally, we can all play a very small part in reducing the acceptability of violence and abuse by being careful in our own language, idioms and similes presumably, which may unconsciously perpetuate narratives of violence.

This text may be useful for health care educators and those thinking cross‐culturally. Spanning across the life course, the text confirms that there are many issues in common between age groups and locations.

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