What is Domestic and Family Violence?
Our families can be a place where we feel most at home. Unfortunately, for many people, family can be a place where disrespect and violence also occurs. Family and domestic violence can be a painful and difficult issue to respond to as often there is a sense of shame that isolates people from talking about what is occurring.
Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) refers to any act or threat of violent, abusive, or intimidating behaviour in a relationship that contributes to an unsafe environment or feeling. Another way of putting this is Domestic Violence is any action that is experienced by a partner or children as intimidating or causing fear, and having the effect on them of limiting what they say or do. Domestic and Family Violence does not always include physical violence, it can result in sexual, social, spiritual, emotional, psychological or economic harm in a relationship and in our communities. While violence is present in all cultures and areas of society, statistics indicate that it is mostly perpetrated by men against women.
“It was not just the actual violence; I felt I couldn’t do anything because it could happen again. I spent the whole time trying to figure out what he was thinking to stop it happening again and from him getting angry, but it never stopped. With help, I eventually realised it was about him, not me.” – Domestic Violence Survivor
It is important to acknowledge that family and domestic violence is a gendered crime in Australia. Gendered crimes and behaviour are a result of common gender roles and the societal inequalities between men and women. Attitudes such as “men are superior to women” and “men get to make all the decisions” can support some men’s choices to use violence in their relationships.
What does family and domestic violence in Australia look like?
Domestic violence can include any of the following:
- physical abuse
- financial abuse
- emotional abuse
- verbal abuse
- social abuse
- sexual abuse
- stalking (following someone or tracking them through phones or other technology)
- spiritual abuse.
Domestic and Family Violence effects children directly as it often impacts the capacity of the person effected by the violence to parent. Despite the challenges in families where there is domestic violence, many parents still manage to provide security, nurturance and support for their children.
Power and control are always at the centre of an abusive relationship. The person experiencing the abuse loses their sense of power and control over their life. There are various tactics that an abusive partner or family member will use to maintain power and control in a relationship. Some of the more common tactics include using coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, or using children or male privilege. It is sometimes hard to see the signs of controlling behaviour because it may happen over time or the victims are told that “this is just how families are”. Another common strategy is making the person being abused believe the abuse is happening due to their fault or because they are not a good enough partner or parent.
“For years I thought it was only happening because of me and blamed myself. I felt terrible shame, which isolated me, from friends and community. Now I’m starting to see it wasn’t me and it wasn’t my fault. No one deserves to be treated that way.” – Domestic Violence Survivor
The perpetrator will often develop a pattern of behaviour that uses power as a tool against the other person. Perpetrators of domestic violence are always responsible for their violent behaviour and attitude; violence cannot be excused.
Domestic and Family Violence Services
In case of emergency, contact these numbers for immediate assistance
Police and Ambulance – Dial 000 in an emergency
Domestic Violence & Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Services– 1800 800 098
Domestic Violence & Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Services: 1800 800 098
Migrant Women’s Support Program: 08 8152 9260
Yarrow Place Sexual Assault Service – 08 8226 8787
1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732 or https://www.1800respect.org.au/
Relationships Australia – 1300 364 277 or http://www.relationships.org.au
Lifeline – 13 11 14 or https://www.lifeline.org.au
For more information about domestic violence, please visit http://www.whiteribbon.org.au