Domestic violence experts are urging friends and family to look beyond obvious warning signs of bruises and scratches if they’re trying to work out if a loved one is being abused by their partner.
The signs can be varied and may include people who:
- Have become quiet or lost confidence
- Have stopped seeing friends and family
- Mention ways in which their partner controls activity including the ways they spend money or interact socially
- Have children who seem afraid of the person or who become withdrawn.
“Domestic violence is a problem that is everywhere – regardless of postcode, regardless of community,” Centacare CEO Peter Selwood said.
“Every case is different. Families are under pressure. There is financial pressure. There is job pressure. But there can be multiple factors in domestic and family violence.”
Centacare has managed cases across demographic areas, helping women working in high-ranking professional careers to women from lower socio-economic areas.
Each woman has a story to tell about a violent partner using different forms of abuse – from physical abuse to controlling behaviours including restriction of money and isolation from friends and family.
Centacare’s experience has included helping women overcome a variety of different situations.
“There are so many stories to be told but the common point is that we need to continue to shine a light on domestic and family violence,” Mr Selwood said.
“The most important thing is to identify the issue and acknowledge it. They may not have someone they can talk to about it in their social network because they have been isolated.
“If they don’t have someone then we encourage them to reach out to the 1800 RESPECT and say: ‘I think I’m in a domestic violence situation’. They can then be counselled through it.
“But they have to make the call safely, thinking about whether their phone can be checked by their partner.”
Centacare said that it assisted people with their various ways of coping with domestic violence, acknowledging the heightened danger that many abused partners face.
“Leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time for a woman and her children,” Mr Selwood said.
“It is important to ensure that someone is prepared before leaving. We can help them to develop a safety plan for leaving and provide referrals to legal and other support services.”
If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
DV Connect (24 hours): 1800 811 811
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732): National sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service https://1800respect.org.au/