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Domestic Violence: It’s everyone’s business and it’s everyone’s problem

By Doug Dobing - 21 July 2017 10

Domestic violence

Domestic and family violence services are struggling to keep up with demand said Domestic Violence Crisis Service CEO Mirjana Wilson.

“We have absolutely, exponentially increased the demand on all of our services in the last couple of years. To the point where it is 60-75 per cent more than it was two and a half years ago,” Ms Wilson said.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in public awareness of domestic and family violence and available support services.

It is no longer a taboo subject. People are now more willing to talk about domestic violence issues and more people are reporting it, said Ms Wilson.

“Suddenly we have this awareness. But with awareness comes a responsibility, to be able to respond. And that is our ongoing challenge,” she said.

“We have [an] increased demand [for] our services. We have a lot of services that are quite stretched in our system.”

Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death and injury for women under the age of 45 years.

Ms Wilson said it’s a very narrow lens to look at domestic violence as a series of physical assaults, property damage, sexual violence, stalking and harassment.

“It crosses into a whole pile of areas that perhaps we haven’t traditionally considered,” she said.

Domestic and family violence is not a series of one-off incidences; it is a pattern of behaviour that also includes coercive control, social isolation, and psychological, economic and religious abuse, Ms Wilson said.

Many affected by domestic and family violence are aware of the pattern of abuse. However, safety is a good indicator to help people understand if something is not right, she said.

“Regardless of the tactics or the techniques that they are using, if you’re not feeling safe with the person that you are living with, give us a call,” she said.

Helping those affected by domestic and family violence requires a whole of community approach and is not just the business of those working in the domestic violence sector, Ms Wilson said.

“It’s actually everyone’s business and it’s everyone’s problem,” she said.

Domestic and family violence not only affects the person subjected to domestic violence; it also affects the family, workplace and community.

“It impacts the [General Practitioner] when a person presents for a range of issues such as anxiety, depression or if they are not just feeling physically or medically right.”

“Where is the responsibility of the medical practitioner, to have a broader conversation about what else is might be going on in that person’s life that might be leading to the anxiety and depression or other things that are going on?”

For a long time, children have been lost in this conversation, as it was thought that children were not impacted. Especially, if they did not witness or were not home at the time of a physical incident, said Ms Wilson.

“But we now know that there are significant impacts to children and that these impacts can go on for many, many years,” she said.

“And that needs a specialist type of work and interventions with kids around what they have been through and how do we assist help them with some form of healing journey?”

There is still a lot of work to be done in understanding what’s going on for those that use violence in intimate partner relationships and identifying what supports they need to change their behaviour, said Ms Wilson.

“The majority of people that use violence don’t decide to wake up one day and make their family lives miserable and have their hopes that people will be fearful of them,” she said.

DVCS has been providing domestic violence services in the ACT for almost 30 years.

If you would like to know more about domestic and family violence and how to respond, DVCS are offering a one-day education session on 16 August or 8 November 2017. For training session details go to https://dvcs.org.au/education-training-facilitation/

For more information, contact the Domestic Violence Crisis Service 24 hrs crisis line on 6280 0900.

What more can we do to prevent and reduce domestic and family violence in our community?

Doug Dobing is a modern communicator, journalist and content creator with a passion for people, politics and social justice. You can also hear him talking about local current affairs issues on 2XX FM 98.3 SubjectACT. He loves AFL and is an AFL Canberra photographer. You can find him on Twitter @DougDobing.

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10 Responses to
Domestic Violence: It’s everyone’s business and it’s everyone’s problem
Doug Dobing 2:47 pm 28 Jul 17

A Domestic Violence Crisis Service spokesperson provided further information in response to your above comments:

“Using the words ‘the leading cause of death and injury is domestic violence’ can sometimes be a bit misleading as most people concentrate on the word ‘death’ and not ‘injury'”, the DVCS spokesperson said.

DVCS also rely on the statistics obtained from the ABS Personal Safety study.

”While many women are murdered as a direct result of domestic violence, many more women die as a result of other reasons which have come about because of their experiences of domestic violence, which increases the number of deaths, but not necessarily the number of murders. Then there is also the injury factor,” they said.

“DVCS’ experience certainly tells us Aboriginal women are more likely to experience physical violence more than other elements of domestic violence and the physical violence experienced by all people is generally becoming more and more vicious as compared to 20 years ago.”

Thank you DVCS for providing additional information to clarify this issue.

Doug Dobing 1:07 pm 28 Jul 17

Thank you for everyone engaging this discussion. This is an important and complex problem – and it’s important to understand and keep talking about it. From the continued public discussions and political focus over the past two years, domestic and family violence has gone from a crime behind doors to a topic that is more easy to discuss in open forums. However, it is also a topic that hits raw emotions because we all know someone affected by it. Blen, thanks for requesting clarification regarding the stats. I have asked for some clarification from domestic violence services in relation to this. Once again, thank you, everyone, for taking the time to comment and to keep this discussion going – and as a community, we can work together to stop domestic and family violence.

Roksteddy 8:00 am 27 Jul 17

Blen_Carmichael said :

Roksteddy said :

Blen_Carmichael said :

this certainly casts doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the “the’ leading cause of death for women under 45.

You are misquoting.
The OP stated “Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death AND INJURY for women under the age of 45 years.”

How is this misquoting? The OP made a claim that DV was the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45. I asked him to provide a source about the death statistics. The OP has responded – politely – and has not accused me of misquoting him. No need to get outraged on another’s behalf, especially when it has no basis.

I definitely wasn’t outraged. That claim has no basis. I was merely pointing something out. In your second entry above you stated there was doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women under 45. You had left out the words ‘and injury’. I capitalised those words to highlight the fact. Apologies if you mistook that for outrage.

Blen_Carmichael 2:55 pm 26 Jul 17

Roksteddy said :

Blen_Carmichael said :

this certainly casts doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the “the’ leading cause of death for women under 45.

You are misquoting.
The OP stated “Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death AND INJURY for women under the age of 45 years.”

How is this misquoting? The OP made a claim that DV was the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45. I asked him to provide a source about the death statistics. The OP has responded – politely – and has not accused me of misquoting him. No need to get outraged on another’s behalf, especially when it has no basis.

Roksteddy 11:36 am 26 Jul 17

Blen_Carmichael said :

this certainly casts doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the “the’ leading cause of death for women under 45.

You are misquoting.
The OP stated “Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death AND INJURY for women under the age of 45 years.”

Maya123 10:47 am 26 Jul 17

Blen_Carmichael said :

I asked for a source on the above claim, but it hasn’t been forthcoming. So I thought I’d look for myself.

According to ABS figures 69 women were murdered in 2016.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4510.0~2016~Main%20Features~Victims%20of%20Family%20and%20Domestic%20Violence%20Related%20Offences~6

ABS data records show that in 2015 (appreciate it’s the year before) “suicide was the leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age.” I haven’t got the exact number for females; however, the shows a suicide rate for females of 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Based on a population of 24 million this equates to 1464 women. I appreciate there’s no age breakdown; however, this certainly casts doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the “the’ leading cause of death for women under 45.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2015~Main%20Features~Intentional%20self-harm:%20key%20characteristics~8

Perhaps some suicides could be because of domestic violence, so as well as age, it would be informative to know the situation of the person before they committed suicide. However, much domestic violence is likely kept secret because of embarrassment, so it might be difficult to tie the two together.

chewy14 10:42 am 26 Jul 17

Blen_Carmichael said :

I asked for a source on the above claim, but it hasn’t been forthcoming. So I thought I’d look for myself.

According to ABS figures 69 women were murdered in 2016.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4510.0~2016~Main%20Features~Victims%20of%20Family%20and%20Domestic%20Violence%20Related%20Offences~6

ABS data records show that in 2015 (appreciate it’s the year before) “suicide was the leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age.” I haven’t got the exact number for females; however, the shows a suicide rate for females of 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Based on a population of 24 million this equates to 1464 women. I appreciate there’s no age breakdown; however, this certainly casts doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the “the’ leading cause of death for women under 45.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2015~Main%20Features~Intentional%20self-harm:%20key%20characteristics~8

It’s a quasi-fact that is continually repeated and often does more harm than good by deliberately inflating the incidence of the effects of domestic violence (which are bad enough using the data in context).

The key word you’re missing in the statement is “injury”, the actual number of attributed deaths is far smaller obviously, the main impact is injury or illness which is attributed to DV.

But it is clear why it is often misread because the casual reader sees “death” first in the provided statement.

If you look at the data, the vast majority of the disease burden is from depression, anxiety, alcohol and tobacco use, which have higher rates in people suffering DV than the rest of the population. They also don’t really show a causative relationship for these things and DV either, but that’s another story.

VicHealth did some work on this a few years ago:
https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/publications/the-health-costs-of-violence

Doug Dobing 8:07 am 26 Jul 17

Blen_Carmichael said :

“Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death and injury for women under the age of 45 years.”

Could you provide a source for that claim please.

Thank you for your question Blen_Carmichael. The source of this information is from Lifeline ACT, as presented as part of the Domestic Violence Response Training for health, allied health and community frontline workers (Unit of Competency CHCDFV001), training manual page 5. They make reference to the 2012 ABS Personal Saftey Survey.

Blen_Carmichael 12:36 pm 24 Jul 17

I asked for a source on the above claim, but it hasn’t been forthcoming. So I thought I’d look for myself.

According to ABS figures 69 women were murdered in 2016.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4510.0~2016~Main%20Features~Victims%20of%20Family%20and%20Domestic%20Violence%20Related%20Offences~6

ABS data records show that in 2015 (appreciate it’s the year before) “suicide was the leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age.” I haven’t got the exact number for females; however, the shows a suicide rate for females of 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Based on a population of 24 million this equates to 1464 women. I appreciate there’s no age breakdown; however, this certainly casts doubt on the assertion that domestic violence is the “the’ leading cause of death for women under 45.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2015~Main%20Features~Intentional%20self-harm:%20key%20characteristics~8

Blen_Carmichael 1:47 pm 21 Jul 17

“Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death and injury for women under the age of 45 years.”

Could you provide a source for that claim please.

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