Domestic violence is when a person abuses and/or physically hurts their partner. Family violence is when a person abuses and/or physically hurts their family. Both forms of violence can cause mental and physical issues for the individual and their families. In addition, victims of domestic or family violence have a high chance of acquiring a Traumatic Brain Injury due to physical blows to the head; or an hypoxic brain injury from lack of oxygen to the brain from being strangled.
Domestic and family violence includes things like:
• controlling what a person wears
• controlling who a person talks to
• controlling someone’s money
• keeping their partner or family locked in the family home
• controlling what their partner or family do
• being jealous all the time
• running them down – talking bad to them and behind their backs to others, &
• physical abuse – hurting them.
The person who is getting hurt is known as a victim. The victim can become really withdrawn. Meaning they may stay in the house or their room all the time and not go along to any special events or catch up with their friends or families. Usually, the person who is controlling the victim is a close loved one. They are known as a perpetrator.
Often the preparator puts on a good face in front of other people, so it can be hard to see if they are hurting their loved ones as it happens behind closed doors. They also can make the victim feel very lonely and depend on them often making the victim think abusive behaviour is normal or believe the lies they tell:
“See, you make me angry that’s why I hit you.”
“Your family and friends don’t even like you. I am all you have.”
“I control everything. You’d be nothing without me.”
“I love you and I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.”
“Next time don’t open your mouth.”
“See what happens when you don’t listen … listen next time!”
And it’s important to know, both men and women can be both the victims and perpetrators. When it comes to family violence, our Elders are at risk.
It’s not easy to escape
Violence causes a lot of hurt and challenges for families and communities and is often a cycle that is passed down to the next generation. It is important we know the signs and teach our young ones better and correct anyone that may be doing this violence. It can be a lot to deal, but it’s important we be there for the victim and offer a safe space. Domestic and family violence are not easy to escape, especially if there are small bubbas involved. It takes time and a lot of support from family and friends and sometimes even the police bullyman have to step in. These situations can last a little while or years. It’s important to stay strong and offer support even if the victim keeps going back to the perpetrator.
It’s important to not get wild and give up on the victim. It is important for friends and families to not make excuses for the violence and the perpetrator as this causes more harm than good. Don’t say things like:
“It’s not like she/he got proper bashed it was just a slap.”
“She/he got a big mouth that’s why they got hit.”
“Boys will be boys.”
“He/she only go off when they drink.”
“They got kids they got to stay together.”
“He/she only smashed the house up its because they were wild for money.”
“They a good couple together just argue/ fight to much.”
In the short term, the victim can start to get depressed or lonely and can even develop a mental illness and think about hurting themselves. In the long term, domestic and family violence in extreme cases can cause disability, brain injury and serious injuries that sometimes can lead to death or the victim’s suicide.
Where to go for help
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic and/or family violence you can visit your local health service and talk to your health worker to find out what support services such as your local legal aid service are available to you. If you are not ready to talk to someone face-to-face, there are several confidential services you can call for advice such as:
• Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
• Lifeline 13 11 14
• 13Yarn 13 92 76
• Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (if you live in Queensland) 1800 887 700
• 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
• Synapse 1300 651 192
If you feel comfortable, speak with police or an Indigenous Liaison Officer and report the abuse. You can ask to apply for a Domestic Violence Order (protection order). The police can put the order through if you want, or you can apply directly to the court yourself and have a legal aid worker help you. It is important to remember if someone breaches the DVO to call police straight away for your own safety. Domestic and family violence is not easy to escape from; it takes time and a lot of support from family and friends and sometimes support agencies. But there is hope. No one should live in fear. There is no shame in reaching out.