What is domestic violence?
Domestic Violence can be described as any form of behaviour that one person uses to establish and maintain control over another. These behaviours often happen over a period of time and result in the abused person feeling confused, anxious or fearful.
What’s the difference between arguments and domestic violence?
In any relationship there are bound to be arguments or disagreements. There is, however a difference between having an argument and abuse. In a non-abusive relationship, both partners might argue or disagree, but they both still feel free to say what they think without fear. Domestic violence or abuse is when one of the partners frightens or bullies the other so they don’t feel like they can say do or say what they want to. In a healthy relationship partners can disagree or have very different views, but still feel like equals. An abusive relationship leaves one person in the relationship feeling less-than or fearful of the other partner and can often be characterised by put-downs, verbal abuse or threats.
“Anytime I tried to discuss anything with him, he said he didn’t care about my opinion. He said he was the boss and if I didn’t like it I shouldn’t have married him. He would often yell at me to ‘get out of his face’. If I got upset or cried he’d laugh at me and call me a ‘loser’. I ended up feeling like I wasn’t game to talk at all.”
Forms of domestic violence
Domestic violence isn’t always physical. Other forms of abuse or control can hurt just as much. Physical injuries and bruises aren’t the only signs that violence or abuse is occurring. Domestic Violence can include physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, stalking, abduction and confinement, deprivation of cultural and spiritual rights, humiliation, harassment, intimidation, denial of access to money, isolation from support, sexual abuse and assault including rape and incest, threat of or actual abuse, and, as part of the continuum of violence – murder.
Emotional abuse is deliberately making someone feel hurt, bad or inadequate – such as constantly putting them down, calling them names or making them feel stupid. It can also include emotional blackmail such as threatening to commit suicide if their partner leaves.
“I was always being told that I was fat, ugly and dumb and that nobody else would ever want me.”
“I told him I was leaving him. He got a knife from the kitchen and said he was going to stab himself in the heart. He did this in front of the kids. They were terrified and begged me not to leave.”
Social abuse is when one person stops another from seeing their family, friends or from having a job. The controlling person may make constant calls to check on their partners whereabouts and make disparaging remarks about the other persons family or friends.
“My boyfriend was paranoid and really jealous. He would go off if I even said hello to anyone he didn’t know. I gave up work because he rang me every hour and my supervisor was getting upset that I was on the phone all the time.”
“My partner said my friends were talking about me behind my back. He said I’d be better off without these kind of people in my life. Anytime I wanted to go out with a friend he would find a reason why I couldn’t go. I was only allowed to speak to people when he was around.”
Financial abuse is when one person takes control of the all the money and ownership of everything in the household and relationship.
“I had a job, but my wages went into his bank account and he only gave me enough money to buy food and pay the bills. If I wanted anything I had to almost beg him for it. If he was in a good mood, he might give me some extra to buy something like clothes, but if he didn’t like what I bought I would have to take it back and get a refund. I had to account for every cent”
“When we bought a car he said it had to be registered in his name. I went to visit my mother after an argument one day and he reported the car stolen.”
Sexual abuse is any form of sexual contact that is forced or unwanted. Nobody has the right to force or coerce someone into sexual contact – even if they are married.
“He used to make me watch pornographic movies with him and then insist that I did what the women in the movies did. I would say no, but he said I had to because we were married and it was my job to keep him happy. If I resisted he would force himself on me. I didn’t know that it was rape”
Physical abuse is when someone pushes or shoves the other, throws or smashes things, spits at the other person, slaps, punches, strangles or threatens to injure or hurt the other person.
“My step-dad is always aggro. I’m worried that one day we will come home and find her dead”
“He gets right up into your face and shakes his fist at you. Sometimes he will punch a hole in the wall and say ‘’you’re next!”. I’ve seen what he can do – I’m scared most of the time.”
How domestic violence affects children & young people
Seeing a parent being treated badly affects children no matter what age they are. Children who are around or witness domestic violence are being abused by making the home an unhappy and unsafe place to be. The home is supposed to be a place of nurturing and comfort. Nobody should feel nervous or frightened in their own home because of the violent or abusive behaviour of another.
“We used to hide under my brothers bed with our fingers in our ears when they were fighting. When it was over I would get back into my bed and pretend I was asleep. Once, I was so frightened that I wet the bed.”
Domestic Violence occurs in all types of relationships
Domestic Violence can occur within all relationships of a personal nature, including heterosexual or lesbian, marital or de-facto, extended families and ex-relationships.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A CRIME
Domestic Violence remains a gendered crime with the majority of violence perpetrated by men against women. It represents a breach of the human right to freedom from gender based violence. Domestic Violence is a crime and must be responded to as such. The perpetrator is solely responsible for domestic violence.