Interpersonal violence is on the rise in most of its forms.
For example, ABS statistics show in 2018-2019, sexual assault, non-face to face threatened assault, and face to face threatened assault are all on the rise.
During the 2018-19 reference period, an estimated 5% of Australians aged 15 years and over (992,900) experienced one or more selected personal crimes in the last 12 months, including:
- 2.4% (468,200) who experienced physical assault, of which 53% had the most recent incident reported to police;
- 2.8% (546,500) who experienced face-to-face threatened assault, of which 35% had the most recent incident reported to police;
- 1% (202,600) who experienced non face-to-face threatened assault, of which 31% had the most recent incident reported to police; and
- 0.4% (73,400) who experienced robbery, of which 51% had the most recent incident reported to police.
Domestic and Family Violence Statistics
In terms of the statistics for domestic violence, an estimated 1 in 6 women (1.6 million) aged 18 years and over had experienced violence by a partner since the age of 15, according to findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey. These statistics are fairly steady since 2016.
Another report from the ABS states:
Behaviour associated with family, domestic or sexual violence may range in intensity and frequency from relatively minor incidents to serious offences that may occur once or have a cumulative effect over the course of time. A central feature of family and domestic violence, noted in the National Plan, is the ongoing pattern of behaviour by one partner to control the other through fear, such as the use of violent and threatening behaviours, and occurs between people who are in, or have been in, an intimate relationship.”
This can occur through physical assault and abuse, sexual assault and abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse (including shaming on electronic media), economic abuse and control, social abuse, property abuse, harassment and stalking, and spiritual abuse.
All forms of coercion in domestic violence involve control which is manifested through domination, intimidation and manipulation.
What Women Can Do
So how can women become more informed and discriminating and provide informed choices to protect themselves and their children?
On a background of increasing statistics on interpersonal violence, women and women with children need to become as informed as possible regarding choices to manage, accommodate, separate, establish and thrive in a society which affords them some protection but unfortunately not 100% protection in being safe and making the right decisions.
Some of that comes down to the individual to make the right decision at the right time with the best outcome. The time of leaving an abusive relationship can be one of the most dangerous times of all.
Apart from becoming informed, getting support and choosing a time to move away from violence, what are the danger factors?
1 – In the booklet “Safe from Violence” published by Relationships Australia the author states:
Many women don’t want the relationship to end – they just want the violence to stop.”
The question to ask is: “What is the tipping point? When do we say enough is enough?”. When we see the children suffering; when we can’t move forward with our lives; when anxiety haunts our every step? VicHealth (2004, p. 25) found that anxiety and depression represented the greatest proportion of the disease burden (27% and 35% respectively).
2 – When the time to leave has come, there are lots of places to look on the internet to look at a Safety Plan.
The support of a local DV service who may have funds to support you / provide legal assistance / help you re-locate and house you / provide you with a cheap but bug-free mobile phone – can be of enormous assistance to you.
Packing an emergency suitcase could include the following: money, debit and credit cards, forms of identification eg birth certificates and passports, lease, rental agreement, mortgage papers for your house, bank account details, insurance papers, any medication for you and your children, medical records, immunisation details, Medicare card, Centrelink information, legal papers and copies of Domestic or Family Violence Orders, clothing and personal hygiene items for you and your children.
See the booklet in point 1 for Creating a Safety Plan; but we have to be a lot more switched on regarding ways of control that may continue to be exercised through tracking and surveillance devices.
There are a lot of things to think about including:
- Do we follow the same routines, live in the same area and frequent the same shops, schools etc. Will this make me easy to be found?
- Are we absolutely 100% sure that our phones and computers are not GPS-located or hacked in any way ? There are services which can be purchased to do an electronic sweep of our homes and electronic devices. Could they be in cuddly toys, sewn into garments, listening devices – the sky is the limit! When in doubt, throw it out.
- Centrelink. See the Social Worker or Manager to make sure that if you change your name it is not electronically cross-matched with other names by which you are known. A name change can be saved manually. This is an important point. Most other agencies such as electricity, car rego, insurance, rates etc use your Centrelink identification, name and address, for verification. Your ex-partner could try to pay to get information about you unlawfully, so by doing this you can foil their attempts.
- Get as much education as you can to re-establish yourself as a safe individual living in a safe protected household.
3 – Spend time meditating and processing all this information, to make it as clear as possible in your conscious thought processes that you are doing the right thing.
Counselling, establishing new relationships, your children establishing new relationships, feeling safer and less anxious, will assist you to move on to a healthier life physically, emotionally and materially.
You are the sum of all your thoughts, all your emotions, all your actions. You can do this. Your life stretches out before you with all its opportunities.
Author: Susan Ward, B Arts, B Soc Wk, AMHSW.
Susan Ward has a wealth of experience in helping people with issues like trauma, grief and loss, eating disorders, interpersonal violence, social anxiety, stress, depression, and difficult relationships.
To make an appointment with Accredited Mental Health Social Worker Susan Ward try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
- Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) 2004, The health costs of violence: measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence, Department of Human Services, Melbourne
- Here is a great little booklet: www.relationships.org.au/relationship-advice/publications/pdfs/safefromviolence.pdf)