April 22, 2014
Domestic Violence is more prevalent than one would imagine. According to recent statistics, one in three individuals experience domestic violence, the most common form being sexual and or physical assault. Contrary to popular belief, domestic and family violence covers a range of abusive behaviours which can include sexual abuse, emotional and other psychological abuse. The term ‘domestic’ is applied as it typically occurs in households, families or spousal relationships. Another common misconception is that males are the sole perpetrators.
Evan, a male prisoner who experienced inmate sexual assault contacted the domestic violence helpline only to be told that if he wasn’t a female victim or identified as being a ‘male perpetrator’ there would be no support available for him. Another example is in the case of Ron, whose wife has a gambling problem and often leaves their young kids at home to go down to the pokies. When he goes to see her, she is often drunk and throws glasses at him or kicks and punches him. According to Cook (2009), domestic violence against women is such a documented and widely known issue that we often find it hard to believe that women can be the abuser. Statistics such as -‘a women is beaten every 15 seconds by her intimate partner’ (p.g 1) are well versed. Supporting someone or working with domestic violence can be confronting as it can often challenge our own value and belief system.
For health or psychological professionals, there are a number of referral services that can assist such as the National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Line, a 24 hour counselling service (1800 737 732) and also Relationships Australia ( 1300 364 277). In the case of assisting someone you know, basic support such as helping them to consider their safety options and ensuring that they feel they are not alone can assist them toward change.