The Society Against Family Violence was birth 30 years ago when it became an Affiliate of the National Council of Social Services and a Member Organisation of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations in 1991. Before this, it had a long gestation period beginning with SCWO setting up a Task Force for the Prevention of Violence Against Women in 1986.
The two years of its embryonic stage saw the Task Force holding travelling Exhibitions at various Community Centres and libraries its the message to “Stop Violence Against Women”. Then followed another two years of building networks amongst professionals and researchers from the social services and women’s groups. The year 1990 also saw two seminars, one done jointly with the Singapore Council of Social Services and the Social Work Department of the National University of Singapore and another, as a solo effort on the theme of “The Treatment of Men who Batter: A Workshop for Helping Professionals.”
Our mission is to provide services that prevent and/or reduce the frequency of violence in Singaporean families.
Goals of the Society
To develop and implement programmes that support frontline professionals working with families in crisis.
To develop and implement training/consultancy programmes for personnel to service victims of family violence.
To develop a clearing house facility which will facilitate the coordination of existing services for victims of family violence.
The Spirit of the Society
We want to work collaboratively with various social service organisations, women’s groups, government bodies and other professionals such as lawyers, doctors, educationists and people in the field of media. The enormity of the task, to eradicate Family Violence means that working together and enhancing the role of various professionals such as counsellors, social workers and police officers has to be its focus.
Message from SAFV
By Mr. Benny Bong, President of SAFV
Over the thirty years, we have remained mainly consistent to its goals. We have added, from time to time, various initiatives to address the perceived needs that had gone unaddressed. Let me highlight three innovations.
The first is in the area of public education. The first ten years saw the Society mounting a number of seminars, conferences and road shows to take the message of non-violence to the community. We also published a series of magazines addressing the whole spectrum of family violence , from violence against children to the elderly. The Society is also one of the organisations media outlets go to for information and comments.
The thrust of public education efforts has over the past decade-and-a-half has since been lead by the Family Violence Dialogue Group, a group that combines various government bodies and social service organisations in focusing on the problem of Family Violence. The Society still has an eye on this area of work and will now be moving to the on-line media platform to get its messages through to the community.
Another innovation is in the area of research. Data on the incidence of various forms of Family Violence has been difficult to obtain. We usually make inferences of its prevalence by tracking the number of applications for Personal Protection Orders or from admissions to the Accident and Emergency Departments. There has also been a gap in our understanding of how victims of violence experience the various forms of assistance available in the community. In 1997 and 2010, the Society undertook two major research in these vary same areas. The earlier research focused at the experience of Social Workers and counsellors ten years after the last major amendments to the laws that seek to address Family Violence. The second research is Singapore’s first most extensive look at violence against women. We collaborated with the Law Faculty of NUS and used the Violence Against Women Survey tool, becoming the 12th county in the world to use this same instrument. Findings of this research is available on the internet and we hope that it will inform and spur further research in this area.
The last innovation I wish to highlight in this snapshot of the SAFV’s Story, is its work not just with victims of violence but also with the perpetrators as well. This inclusion is not without controversy. We began our work against Family Violence with our understanding of this scourge from a Feminist Lens. This helped us to understand the dynamics of power and control both at an individual and community level. Also, present day research on trauma and its effon victims of violence helps us to understand the difficulty of victims to break free from cycles of violent encounters. However, the Society also has taken on-board a systemic lens. This perspective allows us to see the inter-connectedness of actions of both victim and perpetrator.
With this latter lens, it becomes all the more important to work with both the victim as well as the perpetrators of violence if we want to end it. Working with perpetrators and with men, sometimes individually, or in Couple Counselling or in men’s groups, were a new innovations that the Society introduced.
It is foreseeable that these efforts of the Society through its brief thirty history will continue as the problem of violence in the family is still with us. Although we have witnessed the growth of new services and organisations over this period, the scope of this problem is so large that there is little worry that we will have little to draw our attention to. Finally, the usefulness of having an organisations like SAFV, with its ability to innovate to address the needs of the community, is needed within a very changing and challenging environment.