Interviews with 30 women in two shires in Victoria, Australia, confirmed that domestic violence increased following the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires on February 7, 2009. As such research is rare, it addresses a gap in the disaster and interpersonal violence literature. The research that exists internationally indicates that increased violence against women is characteristic of a postdisaster recovery in developing countries. The relative lack of published research from primary data in developed countries instead reflects our resistance to investigating or recognizing increased male violence against women after disasters in developed countries. This article begins with an overview of this literature. The primary research was qualitative, using in-depth semistructured interviews to address the research question of whether violence against women increased in the Australian context. The sample of 30 women was aged from 20s to 60s. Recruitment was through flyers and advertisements, and interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and checked by participants. Analysis was inductive, using modified grounded theory. Seventeen women gave accounts of new or increased violence from male partners that they attribute to the disaster. A key finding is that, not only is there both increased and new domestic violence but formal reporting will not increase in communities unwilling to hear of this hidden disaster. Findings are reported within a framework of three broad explanations. In conclusion, although causation is not claimed, it is important to act on the knowledge that increased domestic violence and disasters are linked.
- gender bias