In 2015, 372 incidents of domestic related abuse were reported to Northern Beaches Police but that’s just a fraction of actual cases that go unreported. Throughout Australia, domestic abuse is impacting more and more men, women and children. So what should you do if you encounter a domestic abuse situation?
A friend of mine recently took her family to McDonalds. She noticed a young couple having an argument which quickly turned incredibly violent. Staff and customers were shocked but no one intervened and the man left after physically assaulting his girlfriend. My friend waited until the man left and then approached the girl, asking if she was ok, letting her know there was CCTV if she needed it as evidence while others called the Police. My friend then quickly left with her shocked children, taking them home and explaining the situation as best she could. She later followed up the incident with the Police.
It’s so hard to know what to do in a case like this. What would you do in this situation and is there a ‘right’ thing to do?
According to our Psychologist, Greg Powell:
“There is no neutral position in domestic violence. We need a culture shift that moves beyond ‘minding our own business’ or ‘it’s not my place to get involved’ to one of recognising that this is our community and there is no place for domestic violence in it. When we stay silent or watch from a distance, we are really saying that it OK for the violence to continue. This is an area where we have to roll up our sleeves, risk getting messy, and get involved in the lives of others.”
This active style of response wouldn’t always involve direct intervention but perhaps engaging with some available services (see below), instead of sitting back and just watching the situation play out.
The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria has advice for people suspecting loved ones as being victims of Domestic Violence:
- Believe what they tell you
- Take it seriously
- Help them recognise it as abuse
- Help them to see that the abuse isn’t their fault
- Help them to protect themselves
- Offer practical assistance
- Maintain regular contact
- Tell them about available services
It’s important to note that Domestic Violence isn’t just physical – it can also be emotional (including verbal, bullying, put-downs and rejection) and social (keeping someone isolated from friends and family).
If you or a loved one is involved in a Domestic Violence situation, there are many organisations with highly experienced professionals ready to help, including:
- Police 000
- 1800 RESPECT – a national counselling hotline (1800 737 732)
- Lifeline – 13 11 14 (24/7 confidential helpline)
- Domestic Violence Legal Advice Line on 1800 810 784
- Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491
- White Ribbon – whiteribbon.org.au (loads of information/advice)
In order to raise more community awareness of Domestic Violence, NSW Police has just released this incredible video – grab the tissues, it’s a tear-jerker and make sure to share it with your friends. It’s an important message.