When most people think of domestic violence they often associate it with physical abuse, usually perpetrated by a male partner, resulting in physical injuries. Whilst this is true for the 10 women in Australia who are hospitalised every day on average due to injuries inflicted by their partner, there are other equally common but less talked about forms of abuse at play.
Mission Australia defines domestic violence as behaviour between current or former intimate partners – where one partner tries to exert power and control over the other, usually through fear.
Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, sexual, social or spiritual. It includes behaviours that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone, or otherwise seek to control them.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith or class. However some groups are more vulnerable, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young women, pregnant women, women with disabilities, women experiencing financial difficulties, women and men who experienced abuse or witnessed domestic violence as children.
Domestic violence includes:
As well as hitting, punching or kicking, physical abuse can also include:
1 in 4 women over the age of 15 in Australia (23%) face emotional abuse from an intimate partner. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines emotional abuse is any abuse meant to cause emotional or mental harm that devalues a person's self worth, and is often suffered in silence when damage is not physical. Emotional or psychological abuse is repeated with the intent to control and cause emotional harm or fear.
Examples of emotional abuse includes:
Also known as economic abuse, financial abuse involves limiting a person's control of their own money to exert power over them.
Financial abusers may:
More commonly understood, sexual abuse can be:
Social abuse commonly occurs as a way to reduce the victim's ability to speak out about their abuse to family and friends, or totally isolate them from a support network. Social abuse may be occurring if a partner engages in the following;
This includes the perpetrator using religion, or cultural traditions to justify abuse, or denying the victim access to practice their religious or spiritual beliefs.
If this sounds familiar to you, we encourage you to read more from Your Toolkit, a free online resource that contains information about keeping safe, finding available support and services and personal money matters. – you can start here. This information aims to prepare you to take back your independence, and make an informed, safe decision to stay or launch.
If you're not experiencing domestic violence thank you for educating yourself and becoming an ally. We encourage all supporters to share our content on social media, print our downloads for dispersion and most importantly #tell3 people what you’ve learnt. Family and domestic violence is often suffered in silence, so any effort to create an open dialect is an opportunity to support your family and friends, who might be going through something similar.