Written by guest blogger Amanda Watts
You may not be being hit, punched, pushed or restrained for it to be domestic violence. What looks like jealous behaviour or protectiveness, might reveal an attitude around ownership and lack of respect. A partner can go from charming, to possessive, tense, angry and explosive, and to apologies and promises and back again. A pattern of emotionally abusive behaviour can escalate into physical violence to the point where often the victim wonders – how did I end up here?
Abusive relationships can have you feeling exhausted, increasingly bad about yourself, walking on eggshells, fearing aggressive reactions, losing trust in yourself and others, becoming isolated from friends and silencing your own viewpoints.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse of power and control within a personal relationship and can include: physical assaults, sexual assaults, psychological abuse (verbal put-downs, mind games, controlling behaviour), social abuse (isolating their partner from friends and supports) and economic abuse (controlling access to money). Most victims are women, by a male partner, and children. In relatively fewer situations men experience abuse within a relationship, though the abuse is usually less violent and less persistent. In situations where women use violence in a relationship it is often in self-defence or after a long period of suffering abuse from a male partner, and where they have experienced fear for their own safety. Incidences where women use control and violence as a pattern in relationship are relatively few. Domestic violence also occurs in some same sex relationships.
The effects of Domestic Violence can include homelessness, broken relationships, fear, trouble sleeping, depression, financial losses, physical injuries and death. More broadly there are significant costs to the community in health, housing, policing resources for example.
The White Ribbon Australia Campaign annually invites men and women to take action to eradicate violence against women in a 16 day campaign from 25th November through to Human Rights Day (December 10). This includes raising awareness and not tolerating violence and attitudes which support it.
Healthy relationships are ones in which you are respected, can have your own opinions, and where violence is not accepted or tolerated.
It is possible to leave violence behind. If you want practical help or to check out more:
The Domestic Violence Hotline can put you in touch with services or talk through your situation with you – 1800 65 6463
The Resource Centre, located in Newcastle CBD, can be a first port of call for advice and information and linking to local supports including refuges 49278529
Victims Services NSW – Information, access to counselling and financial help 1800 633 063
VOCAL (Victims of Crime Assistance League) – support and help dealing with the legal systems 49614755
Police – ask for a Domestic Violence liaison officer (specialist)
Amanda Watts is a Counsellor in the Student Counselling Service, and an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker in private practice