Domestic violence: The warnings signs of an abusive relationship

Alarming domestic violence statistics worrying Australian Counsellors.

Australia’s domestic violence statistics paint a grim picture of domestic life in the so-called “lucky country”:

  • 1 in 6 women (1.6 million) have suffered physical or sexual violence by a previous or current partner
  • 1 in 4 women, more than 2 million, have experienced emotional abuse by a partner
  • 1 in 5 women (18% or 1.7 million) have experienced sexual violence in the past
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual harassment
  • Young women aged 18-34 were 2.7 times as likely as those aged 35+ to experience intimate power violence

Emotional abuse, physical and sexual violence, harassment and coercion were already rampant in households across the country, and rates have continued rising since coronavirus-related lockdowns began in March.

Coronavirus and domestic violence

4.6% of all women and 8.8% of women living with partners, experienced physical or sexual violence between February and May 2020.

And yet, official figures show no material change in reported abuse cases to the police. Thousands of women across Australia fear for their safety and security, so domestic violence and harassment go unreported and unaddressed.

National domestic and family violence Counselling service 1800RESPECT experienced a 20% increase in online chat service usage during lockdown.

1800RESPECT General Manager, Paul Moger, told 7News: “With the COVID lockdown, we have seen such a significant increase in web chats coming into our service.

“It’s often that people are trapped in a house with a perpetrator or they have children – and web chat might be a really easy way and a really simple way to contact a counsellor and get that support that they actually need.”

11.6% of all women and nearly 1 in 4 women living with a partner (22.4%) experienced emotionally abusive, harassing and controlling behaviours.

Domestic violence is not always physical. Many forms of abuse (emotional, spiritual, psychological, even financial and technological) leave almost no visible trace but incur deep emotional scars.

How Counselling helps domestic violence victims

Reaching out for assistance is an important first step in getting help for domestic violence. It isn’t always easy, especially if the abuser limits a victim’s freedoms or scares them into feeling like escape is impossible. But domestic violence victims need to know help is available: licenced Counsellors, including those specialising in domestic and family violence, can provide support and work towards rescuing victims from abusive situations.

Common patterns of behaviour

  • Physical or sexual violence, or the threat of violence
  • Limiting access to personal freedoms like bank accounts, social gatherings and spiritual services
  • Controlling and stalking social media accounts
  • Sexual coercion
  • Name-calling, put-downs and undermining confidence
  • Damaging property or personal possessions
  • Threatening to hurt themselves or others if the victim leaves
  • Sharing private photos online

Where to find help for domestic violence

Most Counselling students at TrainSmart Australia choose to pursue the course because of lived experience, either their own or a loved one. If you are considering becoming a Counsellor to help other people recover from traumatic experiences like domestic and family violence, we encourage you to enrol online and contribute your much-needed empathy and professionalism to the Counselling industry.

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