Domestic Violence is unfortunately common. Today 1 in 3 women have been or are in an abusive relationship. As Domestic Violence Prevention Month, this May, begins we look at 5 different ways to help us understand how we can respond and support those who we know are experiencing domestic violence.
Understanding that domestic violence, also known as Family Violence or Abuse, can take many different forms is key to understanding how we can support those experiencing domestic violence differently.
Physical Abuse: Bodily contact intended to cause pain or fear.
Emotional or Psychological or Mental Abuse: Behaviour designed to lower self-esteem.
Economic Abuse or Control: Control over a partner’s finances.
Sexual Abuse: Any kind of unwanted sexual activity forced upon a partner.
Stalking: Unwanted attention including invasion of privacy such as reading emails.
Spiritual Abuse: Denying or ridiculing someone’s religious beliefs or forcing them to partake in another’s religious beliefs.
Technical Abuse: Cyber bullying and harassment, as well as tracking devices and isolation from friends on social media.
Verbal Abuse: Behaviour using words designed to intimidate and threaten.
During the relationship an abusive partner will make the victim feel like it is their fault that the violence is occurring. Unfortunately, in addition, victims are frequently told they are to blame even outside the relationship. It is important to recognise that:
It is never the victim’s fault that they are being abused - even if they say they provoked their partner.
Domestic violence is not a normal hallmark of a functioning relationship.
It is important to remember that at first instance the victim loved the abuser, and that is why they commenced their relationship. Frequently even after leaving, the victim still loves the abuser and hopes they will change. Furthermore, if there are children, the victim may not want to break up the family unit. Supporting the victim, whether they stay or leave, is important to their safety and wellbeing.
A safety plan is a strategy that allows the victim, and their children if applicable, to leave the relationship in a safe way. A safety plan can be very detailed and involved. However, it should involve locating key documents to take such as passports, arranging transitional housing and having support for when the victim leaves.
At first instance listening and informing the victim you believe them will create a safe space for the person you are supporting. The biggest thing we can do for those who are in an abusive relationship is support them. This may mean supporting them while they stay in the relationship or helping them find ways to leave.
Domestic violence can be very difficult to recognise and is unfortunately far more common that you may first realise. Domestic violence can affect people from all walks of life, and as such we need to be able to support those who may be experiencing domestic violence in whatever form it takes. Below are some links to support services for those going through domestic violence:
Phone: 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) - The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence counselling service for people to discuss their circumstances and receive help.
Website: NSW Family and Community Services - information about safety planning, domestic violence and legal assistance to support victims.
Lisa Harnum Foundation - a community service for women in the Hills, directing them to transitional housing, counselling and safe rooms, among other ways to help.
NSW Justice and Attorney General worksheet - general information and guidance for safety procedures.
This is not legal advice.