The devastating truth of domestic violence in Australia

Sadly, the rates of domestic and family violence in Australia are some of the highest they have ever been and this plague of violence in our neighbourhoods needs to stop. We all know it is a huge issue, and the reality is, we simply aren’t doing enough to make it go away.

Photo: ghetto_guera29 via CC BY-ND 2.0.

With one woman being hospitalised every three hours from injuries caused by domestic violence and at least one woman being killed each week by a current or former partner, Australians need to become aware that this isn’t something we can just sweep under the rug anymore. We need to make a change, and we need to do it now.

Reading the statistics and listening to peoples devastating, painful and sensitive stories over the past few weeks, I have begun to understand that, as a country, we have a huge issue on our hands with domestic and family violence and to be quite honest, it has all made me feel a complete roller coaster of emotions.

As I read the government reports and the statistics, I felt angry. A rage bubbled inside of me as I saw graph after graph and statistic after statistic representing the fact that domestic violence is growing like a big, bad, evil monster nobody and nothing can seem to eradicate. 

As time went on and I read more personal stories and spoke to a woman about her own horrible journey with domestic violence, my emotions went from anger to utter devastation. The feeling of rage still hadn’t left me but I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness for these women, and sometimes men, who had lived through or still are living through this earth-shattering nightmare. 

When reading or speaking about the personal stories, it occurred to me that these victims or survivors met these people and fell in love. They loved, trusted and devoted their lives to their attackers for a period of their lives and then the most heartbreaking thing happened to them all. 

The people they loved suddenly turned into people they never thought they would know, people they wished they never met, let alone loved. Their lives turned from a dream of love into a nightmare of abuse. 

After reading it all, I still really had no idea at all of what it would be like. I am in a relationship where I feel loved and I trust that I will be protected every single day. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to not feel protected by your partner, and even worse, to fear them and need to be protected from them. 

In her valedictory speech for Australian of the Year in 2015, Rosie Batty spoke about the issue of domestic violence being ongoing in Australia despite her tireless efforts to establish change after the tragic death of her son.

“Family violence is still an epidemic and it will be for some time. It is a serious abuse of human rights in our advanced and privileged culture and must continue to be addressed as an absolute priority, by both our Federal and State Governments.

Her raw and honest words of this issue that has had a huge impact on her life rung true with the nation, however, two years after this speech, change and improvements are not yet seen with domestic violence rates in Australia still being shockingly high.

Sure, people like Rosie Batty are trying tirelessly to change this issue but the sad reality is, as a nation, we simply are not doing enough to protect our own from this crippling issue.

Rosie recognised that despite her efforts, change has not yet occurred and statistics are showing that the issue is getting worse. “In my opening speech I spoke about one woman a week being murdered and now I speak of two” Rosie said.

Watch the full speech below.

The statistics show that on average, at least one woman is killed in Australia every week by a current or former partner. Although cases of physical domestic and family abuse are extremely prevalent in Australia, so is emotional abuse with one in four Australian women being emotionally abused in their lifetime by a current or former partner.

“We have always put the responsibility on a woman’s shoulders rather than insisting society changes and stops being violent towards women,” Rosie said as she revisited the fact we all know. Too often, victims and survivors of domestic violence are victim blamed. As small-minded people share their opinions that the women could have just left and it would have ended, victims are less likely to come forward for help with fears they won’t be taken seriously or they will be blamed. 

That is one of the biggest issues our country has with domestic violence. People going through it are too scared or nervous to come forward because they don’t want to be blamed for the abuse they are experiencing. They don’t want to be told they should have left. They don’t want to feel more helpless than they already do.

A study from ABS shows that 95 percent of men and 80 percent of women who had experienced violence from a former or current partner had never contacted police.

A recent study from Our Watch shows that one in six media articles still indicate the victim was responsible for the violence inflicted on them. To ensure change can occur, our society needs to realise that it is no fault of the victim at all. Instead of asking why they didn’t leave or wondering if they provoked it, we should begin to ask why their partners are abusing them, why they think it is at all okay and how on earth so many of them are getting away with it.

It is about time that we finally understand that we need to change this huge, catastrophic issue. By victim blaming we are not enabling change. Instead of enabling victims to reach out for help, we are making them shut down and enabling the abuse to continue in the homes of our loved ones.

Nothing about domestic violence is fun. It isn’t sexy, cheeky, fun or at all playful. It is serious, it is devastating and it ruins and ends lives every single day. 

People are losing their lives.

Our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, our best friends, our aunties, and our neighbours. Not only them, but statistics show we are also losing our sons, our fathers, our brothers and our uncles from domestic violence and family violence. 

We don’t have time to wait. Every week, lives are being lost. Every week, we are losing loved ones.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you need help, or you know someone who does, reach out. Don’t be ashamed and don’t be afraid. Change has started, and if we all come together, as a pupulation, we can ensure more change occurs in our contry to keep our loved ones safe from domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family abuse, call 1800RESPECT. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

I spoke to Education Officer from domestic and family violence response centre, Safe Steps, about some of the red flags that people in relationships should look out for and some advice for people who are currently victims of domestic violence. Hear her insights in the interview below.


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