Domestic and family abuse is a big issue in Australia. This kind of abuse can include physical violence, sexual assault and other sexually abusive behaviour, economic abuse (creating financial dependence to control another person), as well as emotional and psychological abuse. While both men and women can experience domestic and family abuse, women are far more likely to experience to it, with research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) showing that one in three women in Australia have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them.
According to the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, victims of this kind of abuse often find themselves caught in a cycle, where they want to leave an abusive partner or parent but end up returning. This isn’t the result of some weakness or character flaw on the part of the victim, but a product of the abuse itself. In fact, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to successfully leave a domestically abusive situation, and their research shows that it can often take up to seven attempts.
When we see people out on the street, sleeping rough, it can sometimes be hard to put ourselves in their shoes and imagine what their lives have been like. There are many stereotypes about the reasons people end up on the streets, but the truth is the most common reason people end up experiencing homelessness according to Homelessness Australia, is in an attempt to escape this kind of domestic abuse. Just think about that for a second. For many of these people, their family situations were so abusive that sleeping out on the streets felt like a safer option.
This has to stop.
In May 2017, the Victorian State Government released a $133m package to fund more than 100 public housing options for women and children escaping domestic violence. The Victorian Housing and Mental Health Minister, Martin Foley, also said that women in danger will be offered access to housing in the private rental market if refuge is not available. This is a big step towards providing much needed support for women in our community, and we applaud it.
But while this is a great step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go, and you can help. We need to keep talking about this issue. If you know someone experiencing domestic violence please encourage them to seek help.
- Emergency: dial 000
- 800 RESPECT: www.1800respect.org.au
- Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria: www.dvrc.org.au
- Eastern Domestic Violence Service (VIC): www.edvos.org.au
- North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service: www.nqdvrs.org.au
- Central Domestic Violence Service (SA): www.cdvs.org.au
- Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WA): www.womenscouncil.com.au
- Women’s Services Network: www.wesnet.org.au