Breaking down the misconceptions of domestic violence

Breaking down the misconceptions of domestic violence

05 May 2022

During the month of May, Mates4Mates is acknowledging Domestic Violence Prevention Month and where to find support. While the topic of domestic abuse can be disturbing and confronting, it’s an important topic to discuss to help raise awareness.

While the topic of domestic abuse can be disturbing and confronting, it’s an important topic to discuss as this helps raise awareness for those experiencing domestic violence or abuse, for other significant people in their lives, and for perpetrators too.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic and family violence involves abusive, violent, or controlling behaviour towards a partner, former partner, or other family member.

It’s important to understand that domestic violence is not just physical abuse and can involve a prolonged pattern of behaviours that aim to intimidate or control another person. This type of behaviour can be described as coercive control, and may include emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse as well as religious or cultural abuse.

The types of behaviours involved may result in isolating an individual from friends and family, controlling where they go, and what they can spend their own money on. The purpose of this may be to avoid them being able to access people who could provide support or alternative perspectives of the situation.

At times, people may not be aware they are experiencing domestic violence, particularly if the perpetrator hasn’t been physically violent or aggressive towards them.

What the stats have to say

Both women and men can experience domestic violence, with Australian statistics highlighting that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men have experienced violence by an intimate partner and 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner.

As reported by the ABC News at the time of writing this article, police in Australia will deal with, on average, 471 domestic violence matters on any given day.

The importance of education

Clare Mitchell, Mates4Mates National Clinical Manager, offers advice for those who may be supporting someone who may be experiencing coercive control and/or abuse.

An important first step is to support the person to reflect on their situation and provide some information to help them understand what domestic violence is, especially coercive control, and what they might experience if they are in this situation.”

This may be difficult for the person to hear so it is important to be gentle and empathic and try not to be frustrated if they find it difficult to recognise these issues in their relationship.

“Victim blaming can be a common response in domestic violence situations. It’s important to provide compassion and instead of questioning why the person hasn’t left, question the perpetrators reasons or motives for behaving this way.”

Being compassionate and supporting a friend or family member who may be experiencing domestic violence can go a long way in helping them to find and access the professional support they may need.”

There can be a great deal of shame and guilt for those experiencing domestic violence, and support and empathy is necessary to help them understand their options and make appropriate decisions.”

Educating the perpetrator can be productive too, as at times, a person may not be aware that their actions are controlling or abusive.

Serious anger issues can easily turn assertive behaviour into aggressive behaviour especially if there is a perceived need to control and intimidate another person. Recognising this behaviour early, this could help them seek appropriate support and make a significant difference.”

How to seek help for domestic violence

It can be difficult at times to recognise that you are experiencing domestic violence, especially coercive control, or are perpetrating abusive behaviours, but there is help available.

While seeking professional help from a psychologist can be a great first step, for more immediate support call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or 000 in an emergency.

At Mates4Mates, we offer psychological appointments with our psychologists and counsellors to help work through trauma, as well clinical programs such as the STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation) Program which targets how to regulate and manage intense emotions and develop respectful relationships post service and the Partners and Carers Program to support families.

Other family and domestic violence support:

 

Article references:

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/domestic-violence/family-domestic-sexual-violence-in-australia-2018/summary 

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