Why Does She Stay? Domestic Violence, Implicit Bias and the Legal System


Why Does She Stay? Domestic Violence, Implicit Bias and the Legal System

Room 108
Melbourne Law School

Parkville campus

185 Pelham Street

Booking not required

Legal cases involving domestic violence are some of the most challenging proceedings processed by the courts, regardless of whether they originate in the criminal or civil system. Frequently, families are in multiple divisions of the court concurrently, adding to the challenge.

Family law proceedings involving domestic violence issues are complex and extremely time-consuming, and while most judges have basic training on handling these cases, some judges are better suited to the task than others. Mediation provides the opportunity for specialisation and the dedication of additional resources, but implicit bias can still be present whether mediation or the traditional court system is used.

Eugene M Hyman, a retired judge from the Superior Court of California and an internationally recognised expert on domestic violence, believes that implicit bias and continual blaming of victims is the biggest challenge facing our domestic violence response. He argues that 'Why does she stay?' is the seminal question considered by everyone in the legal system who intersects with the survivors of violence, including judges, the police and policymakers. This bias is an 'elephant in the room' that must be addressed if rates of domestic violence are to be seriously reduced.

In this presentation, Judge Hyman will outline an approach to tackling implicit bias in the legal system, a challenge that needs to be addressed in the United States, Australia and around the world.

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