The month of May is Domestic and Family Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and it was time for a reminder that Australia may be dealing with the COVID pandemic well, but the war against domestic and family violence in this country is far from over.
In Australia, approximately one in four women and one in thirteen men experience domestic and family violence by an intimate partner. This statistic has some from Mission Australia, who also stated that of those adults experiencing that violence 86.8% indicated that their child has seen or heard the violence in the past twelve months.
During the COVID pandemic many people, women especially were forced into lockdown for varying lengths of time with their abusers. On average, this was resulting in one death per week. And yet, we don't talk enough about domestic and family violence. We tell ourselves that what goes on behind closed doors is not our business. We shy away from the hard discussion because we don't know how to deal with the truth. The rates of domestic and family violence in Australia are too high and we need to do something about it, every single one of us.
Domestic abuse is often about exercising control over their partner. They need them to know that they are tougher, they are stronger, they are the boss, they are the one who is in control. The small controlling behaviours begin to amount to larger acts of violence.
It seems easy enough to put the blame onto men, who are the main perpetrators of domestic and family violence. But, telling them they need to get help, that they need to fix this statistic isn't enough and it clearly does not work. It is time for all of us to stand up and say this violence needs to end, it is time for us all to play our role.
It seems easy to tell people to watch out for the signs of violence, but they are crying and hard to understand. Is it really domestic violence or is she really just clumsy? Is she withdrawing from us or does she just need space? What do you do when you do recognise a sign? What do you do with that information?
The warning signs can be blurry, making this post all the more harder to write. It is hard to tell you what to look out for because every situation is different, the warning signs are not the same for everyone. But is important to have an idea, even if a vague one, because women every single week due to domestic violence, every. single. week.
Here are the eight signs of domestic and family violence we should all know.
1. The abuser will work to isolate the victim from their support system- their friends and family. This could mean moving them away, insisting they only spend time with them, cutting contact all together.
2. Blatant disrespect for the victim- belittling them in front of their friends, telling lies about them, always putting them down to other people.
3. Using children as a pawn in the relationship- trying to pit the children against their other parent.
4. Threating and forceful behaviour with the main goal of causing fear in the victim.
5. Controlling anything and everything they feel they need to be in control of. Mobile phone, computers, what their victim wears, where they go, monitoring phone calls, emails. Financial control is also common, limiting access to funds, extreme budgeting.
6. Physical aggression. Punching, shoving, hitting, biting.
Australia, ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away. Stand up and fight back against family and domestic violence- our lives, literally, depend on it.