Over the past year, COVID-19 has changed the way that people across the world live their lives.
For some, the forced lockdowns were a blessing, with more time spent at home with family, a partner or flying solo. But for others, the situation hasn’t been quite as fortunate, with reported domestic violence growing to an alarming rate.
Women and children are at additional risk as a result of the pandemic, particularly during enforced lockdown periods and isolation requirements.
Chief executive of Women’s Safety New South Wales, Hayley Foster told The Guardian that “2020 will be remembered as the worst year for domestic violence that any of us who are in the sector now have ever experienced.”
As a friend, parent, sibling or colleague, learning more about domestic violence can not only help you to spot when someone you know needs help, it can also provide you with the tools to effectively help the victim.
Types of Domestic Violence
Signs of domestic abuse aren’t always notable – in fact, it may often seem like everything is fine on the outside, as there are a number of ways an abuser may harm, intimidate, threaten or otherwise distress their victim.
Physical violence includes actions, such as kicking, hitting, choking, biting, punching or pulling hair. Acts of physical violence can also include the use of weapons, denying access to medical supplies or food, or locking the victim in or out of rooms in their house.
Being sworn at, ridiculed, name-called or screamed at are all forms of verbal abuse. While these actions may not leave physical marks, the impact of the actions can last.
This type of abuse may involve manipulating the victim into not working or forbidding access to bank accounts, controlling where all the money goes or controlling how much money the victim has access to.
Someone that psychologically abuses their victim may use tactics like making threats, inducing fear or undertaking actions, such as destroying possessions or harming pets, that cause psychological harm or distress to the victim.
An abuser may use emotional abuse to make the victim feel scared, threatened or like they’re ‘going crazy’. They may blame issues in the relationship on the victim, put the victim down, make the victim feel unworthy and their feelings invalid, or use tactics like emotional blackmail, gaslighting, or threats to harm themselves or the victim if things don’t go their way.
Other Forms of Domestic Violence
- Social: This may result in the victim being physically and socially isolated from their friend group, family or social circle, leaving the victim to rely on the abuser.
- Spiritual or Religious: Forcing the victim to stop practising their religious or spiritual beliefs or using these beliefs to control, scare or hurt the victim. This type of control may guilt and/or force the victim to stay in an abusive relationship or marriage and continue to forgive the abuser.
- Sexual Abuse: Making the victim perform unwanted sexual acts, having forced sex without protection or hurting the victim during sex.
- Stalking and Harassment: Intimidating the victim by making them feel watched and followed, which may include the abuser physically tracking the victim with a GPS, harassing the victim in person and online, and showing up unannounced or without permission.
What You Can Do to Provide Support
In situations where domestic violence is occurring, it can be hard to know how to help and when to help. However, there are some ways you can provide help.
Support the Victim
If you know someone is experiencing domestic violence, the first thing to understand is that they may have trouble asking for help – so how you respond to their concerns matters.
It is important to listen without judgement, provide information – like the details of support services – rather than opinions, and avoid language that makes the victim feel at fault for the abuse.
Continue to provide an open line of communication and support them to seek assistance from one of the many support services available in Australia.
Share Details of Support Services
There are a number of organisations dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence across Australia. Some notable national support services include:
- 1800RESPECT – a national domestic violence counselling service
- WithRespect – a family and partner violence support service for LGBTIQ+ communities
- Relationships Australia – relationship support service for individuals, families and communities.
- White Ribbon Australia – an organisation working to end gendered violence, with a page dedicated to support services for each state and territory in Australia.
Diploma of Counselling
If this article speaks to your interest in helping people health through traumatic experiences, take your next step towards this career path by studying a Diploma of Counselling with TrainSmart Australia?
Now more than ever, Australians need an easily approachable, trustworthy and understanding professional counsellor that they can turn to in their time of need.
Does this sound like the career path for you? Counselling is a rewarding career that may lead you into a variety of roles and organisations, from family and domestic violence to parenting, mental health to drug and alcohol abuse, and even adolescent development.