A systems view of violence and some paradoxes in working with violent abusers

Victor Ronald David MacGill


This paper commences with a theoretical underpinning of the nature of violence from a systems perspective, exploring the interactions between parts and wholes where boundaries are transgressed or vital flows are disrupted. A case study of Rangi, a perpetrator of family violence, who is a composite of people the author has worked with over the years, is then used to demonstrate how systems principles can be used to understand the nature of human violence on an individual level and to inform ways of working with clients aiming to reduce the frequency and severity of violence in their lives and the people around them. The focus then shifts to structural violence imposed on the parts of the system by the whole. First, this is examined at a societal level, then returning to the case study of Rangi, there is an exploration of structural violence within the criminal justice system revealing paradoxes to be confronted in working with violent clients.


DSRP, systems, violence, structural violence, boundary

Full Text: