Ms Dhu 11a - Consideration of DV


Male Violence Rendered Invisible

The Coroner characterised Ms Dhu’s relationship with Mr Ruffin as ‘dysfunctional’ and noted that despite her family’s desire for Ms Dhu to separate from him, she was ‘drawn back into the relationship, willingly‘ (emphasis added). The suggestion of free ‘will’ diminishes the reality that Ms Dhu was subjected to violent forms of control by her partner and shifts blame to Ms Dhu for not escaping this violence.  The Coroner also indicated that Ms Dhu did not previously report any incidents of domestic violence to the police but failed to interrogate the barriers, mistrust and fears that women, particularly Aboriginal women, might have in engaging with the police. This was particularly relevant in light of Ms Dhu’s prior experiences with the police which resulted in the fines that led to her incarceration.

‘Observing the Coroner’s court I saw little attention paid to Ms Dhu as an Aboriginal victim of domestic violence. There was no acknowledgement of Aboriginal partner violence, the interplay of race and gender and the inhumane treatment she received.’

Dr Hannah McGlade



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