I don’t believe there has ever been a time in history when families and relationships have been so under attack.
Some couples, relationships and human lives are being psychologically and emotionally burnt and disfigured by threats, intimidation, breakdown in communication, interpersonal violence and even death.
What is being reported upon is that many families have succumbed to interpersonal violence, either through domination, intimidation or manipulation by a family member, or close extended family member.
Even if families and relationships have managed to survive in one form or another, many dreams of intact happy families sharing memories across decades are fading. This plays out every day in the Family Law Court of Australia.
So, what is Domestic Violence?
In a NO Hack Posted Mon 19 Jun 2017, Dr Michael Salter, a senior lecturer in criminology at Western Sydney University, said it was important to understand domestic violence as a pattern of behaviour intended to humiliate and control the partner – and not just any act of violence within the home, or between partners.
In the same article, Michael Brandenburg, strategy manager at No To Violence / Men’s Referral Service, the peak body for organisations and individuals working with men to end family violence in Victoria and New South Wales, stated “We probably need to get a bit better at defining what we mean by family violence in the context of power, the context of fear,” he said. “Our experience over the last 15-20 years is a lot of women’s violence is linked to protecting themselves and protecting their children. It’s not necessarily around a coercive pattern of behaviour.”
What are the facts?
In the ABS Personal Safety Survey 2016, it found physical and/or sexual violence from a partner is on the increase for men and women (Source: ABS 2006, 2013, 2017.)
The same survey collected information about men’s and women’s experiences of physical and/or sexual abuse before the age of 15 years by any adult (male or female), including the person’s parents. One in six women (16% or 1.5 million) and one in ten men (11% or 991,600) aged 18 years and over experienced abuse before the age of 15.
The same survey also found women were nearly three times more likely to have experienced partner violence than men, with approximately one in six women (17% or 1.6 million) and one in sixteen men (6.1% or 547,600) having experienced partner violence since the age of 15.
In 2015, the NSW coroner reviewed all intimate partner homicides over the last decade and found no incidents where a woman killed a man because she was a domestic violence offender. In 2020 however, one woman is killed by her partner every week in Australia (www.whiteribbon.org.au)
In terms of emotional abuse, the ABS Personal Safety Survey 2016 found one in four women (23% or 2.2 million) and one in six men (16% or 1.4 million) reported experiencing emotional abuse by a current and/or previous partner since the age of 15.
What do we do with these statistics?
It is horrific to think that any adult male, female or dependent child has to be exposed to any form of violence in the home – which should be the safest place of all.
Domestic violence can take many forms: 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. It reflects an underlying pattern of behaviour intended to humiliate and control the partner and any other adults or dependants living under the family roof.
It goes right to the heart of what is a respectful pattern of behaviour that will set a benchmark through co-operation and role-modelling for the next generation.
The corollary is that along the track, we might also experience some of the fulfillment, love and sense of belonging that is so lacking, when we step over the threshold of the family home.
In summary – every family situation is so different and so varied, I would not attempt in this article to try to offer any quick solutions.
There is a lot of information and good organisations out there to assist anyone who has the motivation to reach out for help in their situation. This includes a situation which is not working or presenting as so unfair as to provide ongoing suffering and heartache.
Starting with a counsellor who has a balanced perspective on power and its use in relationships is always helpful. We can’t always change our partner’s behaviour, but we can be a powerful role model for good with our children and in our families. If change has to occur, we can try to get the very best outcome for ourselves and our children. One in six women and one in ten men have experienced abuse before the age of 15; we can take steps to ensure our children do not become part of that statistic.
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.