Identifying and reducing the stressors that put a family at risk can be important opportunities to assist families in overcoming the abusive home environment. While it has already been mentioned that the stressors of socio-economic status are a major underlying contributor in some families due to the added stresses of poverty, isolation and drug and alcohol abuse other individual factors can put individuals at risk. For example, inappropriate parenting skills, cause stress and fear when a baby cries and the parents do not know what to do to pacify the child.

Some babies can be irritable, unresponsive hence cry a lot. Parents who maybe young, and have come from a family as an only child or one or two older siblings have not had the opportunity to learn from younger siblings and experienced mothers. Undiagnosed psychological problems and not receiving the appropriate support or treatment is another contributing factor.

Case Study

Josh, found himself inside for the third time since leaving school half way through year 8. He always thought education was a waste of time, and it certainly didn’t seem to help his family.

Looking back for as far as he could remember he’d been brought up on the sound of his father yelling and his mother in tears.

As he got older, however, the anger from his dad began being directed at him. Some nights, after a beating, he would cry himself to sleep because of the intensity of his pain. They all said it was to teach him a lesson, but Josh had no idea what he was supposed to learn. Sometimes he didn’t even say anything, he’d just be sitting there and find himself being belted across the head.

Teachers couldn’t hit him, he knew that. But Josh never respected a male teacher who wouldn’t stand his ground. His dad might have been aggressive, but he never took any crap from anyone. Josh believes you can’t respect a man who won’t fight and stand up for himself.

Growing up, no-one talked in Josh’s household. They either grunted, pointed, or yelled. He used to laugh and say that he had “a simple life”. But now he wondered if it was so simple. He thought back to his school years, and when he first settled disputes with a kick or a punch, no-one seemed to take it too seriously. He was even quite popular. He concluded that his popularity was a result of being the man to have around if a fight broke out.

But Josh knew that something changed when he went from primary school to secondary school. He met Lilly. He adored Lilly and would do almost anything for her. She wanted him to give up punching and fighting. At first he thought it was a “girl thing” and she’d get over it, but he soon realised that she was serious. When he tried to change for her, it didn’t last. So she dumped him and started going out with Jonothan Corby.

Beating Jono into the ground made Josh feel good, he even told his dad about it that night and they laughed at Jono’s injuries. His mum didn’t laugh, but she was like that. Later that night, however, the police called in to the house. Josh’s Dad gave him a beating because of this, stating that he had “brought shame on the house”. Now in jail, Josh is looking at his life and wondering how he ended up there.