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Homefront Hostilities investigates the way in which the First World War shaped domestic violence in Australia and how society understood and viewed this behaviour. Using diverse historical materials — including court records, newspapers and military and repatriation records — Elizabeth Nelson focuses primarily on Victoria in the period 1900 to 1930 to provide a carefully nuanced study of this important but difficult subject.
Her work provides many new insights into domestic violence during and after major wars. She warns against the assumption that its apparent intensification after the First World War was simply the result of men arriving home battled-scarred and psychologically damaged. Most notable perhaps is her finding that many returned soldiers who were accused of domestic violence had pre-war histories of violence. But she also shows how important it is to look at what is happening in women’s lives and to consider domestic violence and war in the broader context of male power and how it was understood in the general community at the time.