There are many different statistics available in relation to domestic violence, but all of them point to a serious problem:
- One woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner.
- Anywhere from one-quarter to one-third, of Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence by a man at some point in their lives.
- Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
- One in Three victims of family violence and abuse is male.
Types of domestic violence
We see many forms of domestic violence. Professionals who work in these areas talk about five types of domestic violence, they are:
- Physical (either causing physical pain, or withholding necessities like medication or a wheelchair)
- Sexual (either forcing sex, or withholding sex and blaming the victim and their sexuality or lack thereof for this action)
- Emotional (constant criticism, undermining the person’s self worth)
- Economic (financial control)
- Psychological (intimidation, threatening to commit suicide, forced imprisonment, hurting pets or children, intentionally breaking precious items)
If someone discloses to you that they are the victim of domestic violence, listen to the person and encourage them to seek help. Do not approach the alleged perpetrator. Until the victim is ready to physically remove themself from the situation, approaching the perpetrator only exposes the victim to further abuse, perhaps for telling or ‘dobbing', perhaps because the perpetrator is embarrassed or frustrated that they have been discovered and lashes out.
There are many misconceptions about domestic violence, and in particular people can blame the victim or attempt to distance themself from the problem by convincing themself that it doesn't happen to 'people like them'. We feel that the Victorian Chief Commissioner of Police, Ken Lay, gave a useful summary of some of those mistaken beliefs:
In blaming victims, we create a lot of myths about family violence.
Here's some of them:
- that the victim must have incited the abuse;
- that the victim is guilty of awful judgement;
- that if the woman's life was endangered, she would simply leave.
No, no and no. These are myths and they're getting in the way of honesty.
The Commissioner also points out that during 2012/13, there were 60,829 incidents where police submitted family incidence reports in Victoria, which is an increase of 21.6% on the previous year.
The problem is also bad in NSW, Mr Scipione said NSW police deal with about 370 instances of domestic and family violence a day. This is particularly concerning when studies show less than half of instances are reported.
This is a complex problem that affects a broad section of our society, and victims are scared or ashamed or otherwise unwilling to report or discuss the violence. At Coode & Corry we often hear the victim make excuses for the perpetrator, we often receive instructions that other people have told the victim that it is their fault, and we often are asked questions by the victim that are clearly coming from the perpetrator such as didn't I promise to never leave them, for better or for worse? Sometimes, just convincing the victim that they do not need to accept this behaviour is difficult, at times impossible, and the victim returns to the house and submits themselves and their children to that situation for another length of time, some even remain with the abuser until they die.
When people come to understand the problem they can often feel hopeless, how can I help? Is there any point, the problem is so large.
There is something that you can do, you cannot solve the entire problem, but as cliche as it sounds, you can be part of the solution. Most importantly, you can help to raise awareness. You can be better prepared, better equipped to be more helpful if one of your friends admits to you that she or he is the victim of domestic violence. You can be better prepared, and better equipped to be more helpful if you think that a child that you know is living in a household where they witness domestic violence. You can also spread the word that this is not okay, that it is never the victim's fault, and that society's views need to change.
Importantly, you can also be better equipped to not put yourself, or the victim, in a dangerous position by taking the wrong action. Sometimes people have good intentions, but their actions can make the situation worse.
Domestic Violence Seminars
At Coode & Corry we want to help to be part of the solution. We will provide to your work, or community group or other appropriate organisation a seminar, free of charge, where we will provide information about domestic violence, some appropriate responses if you suspect it is occurring, and allow for questions at the end of the seminar. In the thirty years that Coode & Corry have existed we have unfortunately encountered a large number of clients who are victims of domestic violence, and we have seen some excellent responses to the situation, and some horrible responses to the situation. We would like to share that knowledge and experience with the community.
Please use the blue button at the right hand of this page titled 'Contact Us' to let us know if you are interested in having somebody come and speak at your school or community event.
Janis Donnelly-Coode and Jacinta Watkins are experienced family lawyers who are keen to share their observations of disrespectful and damaging relationships with the community in an effort to increase awareness of the issues surrounding this complex problem.
If you would like to read more articles about domestic violence then click on the blue link to the right.