Updated: Jun 10
May is Domestic Violence Prevention Month
— 𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒇𝒂𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒚 𝒗𝒊𝒐𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒍𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 —
Family violence is any threatening, coercive, dominating or abusive behaviour that occurs between people in a family, ‘family-like’ or intimate relationship that causes the person experiencing the behaviour to feel fear. The behaviour can include financial, emotional, sexual or physical abuse. Often perpetrators use multiple abusive tactics.
Usually the victim-survivor is a woman, although family violence can occur in any intimate relationship. Aboriginal women, immigrants, those with disabilities and LGTBQI+ individuals are at greater risk of family violence. Nevertheless, family violence is common in the general population.
One in four women are subject to family violence.
One in three women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Of particular concern, children are present in one in three family violence incidents that police attend.
Rates of family violence have increased since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions - there are more calls to helplines and police are attending greater numbers of violent incidents each day. The restrictions are increasing tensions and violence within the home, and are often being used by the perpetrator as another way to control. The circumstances can impact the likelihood that women will be able to reach out for help if the perpetrator and/or children are home.
𝑾𝒉𝒚 𝒅𝒊𝒅 𝒔𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒚?
We often hear people ask why the woman didn’t leave the family violence. Even in the aftermath of a murder some people voice this and publish it online. If only it was that easy to leave. This type of attitude and questioning places responsibility and blame on the victim-survivor. This is not only unhelpful, it perpetuates victim blaming and contributes to women finding it difficult to leave. People need to shift their thinking and ask -
𝑾𝒉𝒚 𝒅𝒊𝒅 𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒐 𝒊𝒕?
The reasons are complex and yet can be reduced to two words -
𝑷𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒍.
So let’s re-examine the question why the victim-survivor did not leave. Again, there are complexities and subtleties however there are some key themes -
𝑯𝒖𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏. 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒎𝒆. 𝑯𝒆𝒍𝒑𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔. 𝑭𝒆𝒂𝒓. 𝑻𝒆𝒓𝒓𝒐𝒓.
The victim-survivor can be concerned about the fallout if she leaves. Statistically, we know that separation is a time of heightened risk and violent incidents for the woman and her children.
Finances can be a worry, particularly if the perpetrator has been controlling the finances.
The victim-survivor may have nowhere to go, particularly at short notice. The family needs a roof over their head and somewhere safe from the perpetrator.
It is important for people to gain a greater understanding of family violence and for victim-survivors and perpetrators to receive support.
𝐔𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐧. 𝐔𝐧𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐝. 𝐔𝐧𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞.