Domestic violence often referred to as intimate partner violence is a big problem in many countries of the world today. This topic is a broad concept and there are many ways to look at domestic violence. It occurs in all countries of the world both industrialized and developing countries. Domestic violence is also found in different cultures. Some cultures are likely to tolerate domestic violence more than others. For instance in societies where women are seen as unequal to men, those societies tend to tolerate domestic violence more and are likely to do nothing or little to combat it. For instance, some cultures may condone honor killing, or physical abuse of women to correct their behavior. This article discusses domestic violence in Australia. To enhance clarity and better understanding of this subject, a definition of domestic violence is in order.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence happens in the form of abuse of a spouse or a family member. It happens in heterosexual or same sex relationships. It takes many forms, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or it could happen even by verbal means as well.
Domestic violence, as the name implies, is a form of violence and abuse directed against a partner in a relationship, but in most instances, it is usually directed at the female partner in the relationship. Domestic violence is the same thing as intimate partner violence and both are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. According to the World Health Organization, “Intimate partner violence refers to any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship.” This does not mean that a male member is spared from domestic violence; indeed the male partner could also be subject to all forms of domestic violence as well. Available data supports the fact that in most domestic violence cases in Australia, the female partner is the one often on the receiving end of abuse.
Domestic violence can affect people at any age. The abused or perpetrator of domestic violence could be young or old; the fact of the matter is that although domestic violence may happen more to people of younger age, older people are also affected by such crime as well. Domestic violence could take place within the home or outside the home. One common denominator for cases to be classified as domestic violence deals with the issue of relationship between both partners. In other words, for a case to be ruled a domestic violence, some type of intimate relationship between the partners have to be established.
Role of Power and Control
Power and Control
The aggressive nature of men in many relationships often develops into a cycle of partner abuse which in many instances precedes the actual physical violence. One reason why a female partner may be a victim of domestic violence more often than the male partner stems from the issue of power and control. The perpetrator of domestic violence generally believes that such violence is justified and may use such violent means as a retaliatory method. Sometimes the victim of domestic violence may act violently as an exercise of self defense. Laws in Australia do not confer any rights to anyone to act in a violent way against the other partner even if it was done as a right of self defense. .
Why Do People Abuse Others?
A key question to ask here is why do people often choose to abuse others? One obvious way to explain this behavior according to experts is once again through the concept of power and control. Many people in relationships try to build and establish their relationships based on mutual trust and respect for one another. Others may try from the beginning to use their power in establishing a controlling behavior against their partner. According to Dr. Michael Flood, an expert sociologist at La Trobe University in Australia, the ultimate goal of the abuser is to make the victim on the long run depend exclusively on the abuser and see them as their only way to achieve solutions to their problems. Dr. Flood warns that although verbal abuse is not seen and conceived in Australia as a very serious problem, people should know that verbal abuse and violence often lead to physical emotional abuse and physical violence eventually.
Forms of Domestic Violence
Physical Domestic Violence
This type of domestic violence involves the act of directing an attack towards a domestic partner through physical means. When individuals are in a relationship where one partner is threatening to attack the other partner, such situation seems to be sending an early warning that there may be a need to act to remove such danger before it becomes too late. The problem though is that the person being threatened with an attack fails to take steps to avoid such attack. Physical abuse for all intents and purposes is used to create pain and injury or other forms of personal harm to the abused person. Such abuse may take the form of hitting, slapping, choking and spitting to punching and other methods. There are cases of acid attacks directed towards partners in relationships, with the ultimate purpose of scarring them for the rest of their lives if they survive such attack. Many cases of physical domestic attacks occur each year and have led to deaths of many people including men and women. According to one study on domestic violence, nearly 40% of the murders of women in Australia each year were committed by a domestic partner. This is an alarming statistic which further points out the danger and serious need to highlight this problem much earlier in Australia. Measures should be taken, aimed at creating more awareness on ways and means to address this problem from all angles.
Emotional Domestic Violence
This form of violence is often very difficult to recognize because it is committed through ways difficult to identify as in cases of physical violence. Emotional violence is just as harmful as physical violence and over time tends to take its toll on the partner receiving such abuse. Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or in some cases referred to as mental abuse. It may be carried out through the use of verbal abuse. Emotional abuse denigrates, intimidates the person it is being directed towards, in a way to undermine their self-esteem and self-worth. The ultimate goal of emotional abuse is to degrade the integrity of the abused person through adaptation and use of coercive force. Although physical abuse is often not used, the emotional abuser can use strong language and threaten to cause harm to the abused person. The effect of emotional abuse can be so devastating on the abused individual to the point that suicidal thoughts may cross their minds. Emotionally abused persons may develop alcohol or substance abuse problems and are often very depressed.
Verbal Domestic Violence
Verbal abuse is also related to emotional abuse. It is a form of abuse where the perpetrator is using abusive language to threaten the victim through things like name calling, ridiculing, criticizing, and various other ways to show disrespect to the victim. Verbal abuse methods are also designed to denigrate and humiliate the victim and often false accusations are directed at the abused individual as well. The abuser may have other things they want to achieve through verbal abuse and violence. They may want to manipulate such victim to feel unwanted and unloved by anyone so as to further isolate the victim, who may have no other options other than to continue to tolerate the abuser’s abusive behavior. Verbal abuse according to experts doesn’t generally leave physical scars and bruises on the victim but they can create mental scars that often are more difficult to treat than physical scars. The long time effects caused by verbal violence are as damaging and very devastating on the victim to the same degree and level as those of physical violence. Spoken words can cause more damage on the individual than physical attacks according to Associate professor of Social Work at the University of South Australia, Dr. Dale Bargshaw.
Domestic Violence Statistics in Australia
Australia as in many other countries has a serious problem of domestic violence. According to a data published by an Australian Domestic Violence website:
- Over 37.8% of the women who were physically abused in 12 months preceding the survey period reported that the crime perpetrator was a male and current or previous intimate partner.
- 34 percent said the crime perpetrator was a member of the family
- Most instances of physical assaults directed towards women in 2004 took place in a family home.
2013 Domestic violence Australia: study in South Wales
- Domestic assault cases had grown by 1.5 percent over five years
- 28,291 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2013 in Australia
- Victoria recorded a 72.8% increase in reporting to police of family violence incidents between 2004-05 and 2011-12
- Intervention orders grew by 82.2%.
- In 2004, 408,100 cases of domestic violence were recorded in Australia
- In 2004, 87% of all the domestic violence cases were women.
- From 2002 to 2003, 181,200 children had witnessed domestic violence
- In Victoria, there was 295.4% increase in children being named in domestic violence cases in 2004-05 and 2011-12.
From these data it is apparent that domestic violence poses a serious problem to Australians. Often it is difficult to prosecute these cases without a family member contacting law enforcement authorities as a protected withness..
One problem which continues to hamper the efforts of authorities is that often domestic abuse happens inside family homes. Many cases of domestic abuse and violence largely go unreported because of fear of retribution by the domestic abuse perpetrator. It is important that the authorities set domestic violence hotlines in all provinces such as domestic violence Victoria and domestic violence Queensland and other places. Nevertheless Australia has made some limited progress in creating the much needed awareness for this problem which remains crucial for all efforts to succeed in tackling the problem.