Physical Assault

A physical assault or fighting can happen for lots of reasons. But one of the main causes is people drinking grog. People can get seriously hurt and also cause serious injuries to someone else. Fighting after drinking grog also gives people and the community a bad name. It’s important to think about the safety of everyone if we see people fighting or about to fight. If someone always looks ready to fight when they drink, try not to speak to them while they’re still drunk, but let them know when they are sober that alcohol makes them behave this way. They may need your help to speak to a health worker. Fighting can affect your loved ones and your relationship with others and can also affect your mental health.

Too many knocks to the head harms the brain

Too many knocks to the head, or you falling down and hitting your head during a fight, can cause a brain injury. Physical assaults are a major cause of Traumatic Brain Injury, with young men between the ages of 20 and 24 being the most vulnerable. Statistics show males are twice as likely as females to be hospitalised with injuries from an assault, and the injuries they get from a fight are mostly to the head and neck area. There is strong association between alcohol and violence. This can be due to:

• strong cultural associations between drinking and violence
• expectations that drinking will lead to violence
• alcohol being consumed in situations where violence is more likely to occur, &
• greater tolerance of violence when people have been drinking.

A brain injury from an assault can be permanent

The brain is vulnerable to permanent damage in an assault, whether it is:

• a blow to the head
• a punch
• a fall, or
• strangulation.

Brain tissue can be bruised or torn by a sharp blow, and you can get haemorrhaging, contusions and haematomas. At the microscopic level the complex connections between neurons – the communication pathways – can be stretched or torn.

How to help

People can seek compensation for trauma related to violent attacks through the legal system. Going through the criminal justice system can be a very stressful time for a person who has been a victim of violence. It is important for a person to have the support of family and friends when needed. A person may be trying to cope with the feelings associated with the attack while managing the paperwork and legal requirements of going to court. You can get access to a Legal Aid Worker to help you manage this by contacting your local magistrate. Counselling and support groups for survivors of assault are also available.

13Yarn 13 92 76
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service 1800 887 700 (if you live in Queensland)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service 1800 012 255
DVConnect Womensline 1800 811 811
DVConnect Mensline 1800 600 636
Elder Abuse Helpline 1300 651 192
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Synapse 1800 673 074