Intimate partner violence, which is also referred to as family or domestic violence is a common but often silent problem, affecting almost 25% of Australian women and a smaller percentage of men.
Intimate partner violence may involve a wide range of behaviours, including:
- Physical abuse — including direct assaults on the body (e.g. hitting, kicking, choking), use of weapons, driving dangerously, destruction of property, assault of children, locking the victim out of the house, and sleep deprivation;
- Sexual abuse — any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as sexual activity without consent, causing pain during sex, assaulting genitals, coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly, criticising, or using sexually degrading insults;
- Verbal abuse — continual ‘put downs’ and humiliation, either privately or publicly, with attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a partner and/or parent;
- Emotional abuse — blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship, constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth, sporadic sulking, withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g., weeks of silence);
- Social abuse — systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to family and friends, moving to locations where the victim knows nobody, and forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people — in effect, imprisonment;
- Economic abuse — complete control of all monies, no access to bank accounts, providing only an inadequate ‘allowance’, using any wages earned by the victim for household expenses.
What’s the difference?
A healthy relationship is…
An unhealthy relationship is…
|Having fun together||If you are swamped by your partner|
|Honesty and commitment to each other||Being scared to disagree or challenge your partner’s behaviour|
|Being able to spend time alone and with your friends||If your partner stops you seeing your friends and family or spending time alone|
|Feeling safe and comfortable with your partner at all times||If you are scared or frightened, anxious or tense when your partner is around|
|Respecting your partner’s decisions, feelings, thoughts and ideas||If you disagree or argue a lot or if your partner is constantly checking up on you|
Why do women stay?
There are many reasons women stay in abusive relationships. They include fear that the violence will escalate, financial dependence, social stigma, lack of self-confidence, isolation, religious and moral values, love and commitment and concern for children, family pressures and lack of community support, including affordable accommodation. A man who is using violence against his female partner typically uses a range of strategies to encourage her compliance and dependence, such as monitoring her movements, destroying her self-esteem, and encouraging her to blame herself for the abuse. These dynamics too make it hard to leave abusive relationships.
How can I help a friend if this is happening to them?
- Ask “How can I help?”
- Respect their privacy and confidentiality
- Listen to the person, let them make their own decisions
- Allow them to feel and express the whole range of feelings that they may be experiencing.
- Help them find someone they can trust, someone they can talk to about what has happened.
- Remember! They are not to blame for what someone has done to them.
Where to get help?
- Speak to your GP
- Seek a referral to a Psychologist
- APS Find a Psychologist referral service ph: 1800 333 497
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732): 24 hour, National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
- Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State (24 hours) 131 114
- Police or Ambulance 000 in an emergency for police or ambulance.
- Translating and Interpreting Service – Phone to gain access to an interpreter in your own language (free) 131 450
- Mensline Australia – Supports men and boys who are dealing with family and relationship difficulties 1300 78 99 78
- Kids Help Line – Telephone counselling for children and young people
Freecall: 1800 551 800. E-mail and web counselling www.kidshelp.com.au
- Relationships Australia – Support groups and counselling on relationships, and for abusive and abused partners. 1300-364-277 or Vic (03) 9261-8700. Website: www.relationships.com.au
- Domestic Violence Telephone Service 1800 811 811
- Sexual Assault Help Line 1800 010 120
- Men’s Info Line 1800 600 636
Written by clinical psychologist Dr Danielle Riley, whom has an interest in trauma recovery and works in the CBT Professionals team. CBT Professionals are a team of clinical psychologists on the Gold Coast with offices in Coomera and Nerang. Gold Coast CBT psychologists offer services to adults, children, and couples.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005). Australian social trends: Women’s experience of partner violence. www.abs.gov.au
Riley, D., Norris, K., & Martin F. (2013). Resilience Determinants in Women Exposed to Various Degrees of Intimate Partner Violence. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Taylor, B. (2004). Make it Your Business, Domestic Violence and the Workplace Training Manual, Office for the Status of Women, Canberra.
Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advise from your doctor or registered health professional. Readers are urged to consult their registered practitioner for diagnosis and treatment for their medical concerns.