FAQ About Domestic ViolenceDomestic Violence
Do some women provoke the violence by nagging?
No. Most abused women try to do everything they can to please their partner and avoid further violent episodes. Victims of domestic violence are vulnerable to further episodes of abuse regardless of their behaviour. Responsibility for violence rests solely with the abuser. There is no justification for any violence.
He hasn't actually hit me. Does that mean it's not domestic violence?
Verbal abuse and emotional abuse are the most common forms of abuse and are present in the majority of abusive relationships whether there is physical violence or not. Abusers use words and other behaviours to control, to intimidate and to cause fear in their victim. These forms of abuse can cause significant harm, impacting negatively on a woman’s self confidence and self esteem. The damage caused by verbal and emotional abuse often lasts long after the relationship has ended.
Is domestic violence a learned behaviour?
Abusers have often witnessed domestic violence as children. However not all children who grow up with domestic violence will go on to become abusers themselves. Likewise not all perpetrators of domestic violence grew up in violent homes. Violence is a choice. In our society there is widespread tolerance of gender, racial, religious and cultural inequality and violence. This teaches that abuse and controlling behaviour is acceptable. However abuse that is learned can be un-learned and positive. There are courses in the community for both men and women to participate in regarding Domestic Violence.
Does alcohol or drugs cause domestic violence?
No. It is a misconception that domestic violence is caused directly by alcohol or substance abuse. The fact is almost no difference exists between numbers of men who are sober or who are drunk when they are violent to their partners. Where studies show that more drinkers are violent to their partners, the studies are not able to explain why many drunken men (80% heavy and binge drinkers) do not abuse their partners. Alcohol or other addictive substances are used by men as a means to give themselves permission to be violent. If someone blames alcohol or drugs they are avoiding taking responsibility for their actions – many people enjoy drinking and some may even drink excessively but they never use violence. Many people stop their drinking and still keep using violence and controlling behaviours. While the use of alcohol and drugs can often make the violence more serious, it does not cause it. Domestic violence takes place in a context of coercive control and in response to threats to male dominance to maintain control over females.
Do some religious beliefs cause domestic violence?
Some abusers may use religion as an excuse for their violence. Religion is no excuse for domestic violence and use of Scriptures to justify domestic violence is unacceptable. There is nothing to support the view that it is God’s will for people to endure domestic and family violence. Some women may feel pressure from their faith or church community to ‘honour’ their commitment to marriage and stay in the abusive relationship. Leaving or getting a divorce is against their religious beliefs.
Is domestic violence more prevalent in some cultures?
Domestic violence crosses all countries and cultures. Some abusive men claim that in their culture women have a subordinate role and the use of violence is permitted to keep women in line. Some accuse the legal system of attempting to destroy their culture or say that laws against family violence are racist. It is important to maintain cultural traditions and beliefs but this can be done without violence or abuse. Under the law the same standards of non-violent behaviour apply to all.
How do I know if there is Domestic Violence in my relationship?
Domestic violence can consist of a broad range of behaviours. These behaviours do not have to be physical, the list may include:
- Physical Assault – kicking, slapping, choking or using weapons against you. All threats of physical violence should be taken seriously.
- Sexual Assault – Any non-consenting (not fully agreed to by both partners) sexual act or behaviour, any unwanted or disrespectful sexual touch, rape (with or without threats of other violence), forced compliance in sexual acts, indecent assaults, and forced viewing of pornography.
- Using coercion and threats– Like being told by your partner they will do something to hurt you, the children, pets or property if you do not do what they want, or do something they do not want you to do.
- Using intimidation– Making you afraid by using looks, actions and gestures.
Using male or female privilege, that is defining what roles the other should take up in the relationship.
- Using children– Such as by making you feel guilty about the children. Threatening to take the children away, to report you to child protection agencies. Using contact visits to harass you, using the children to relay threatening messages etc.
- Using isolation– Controlling what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read and where you go. Smothering you with their attention so you can’t have contact with other people without them.
- Psychological/Emotional/Verbal Abuse– Using words and other strategies to insult, threaten, degrade, abuse or denigrate you. This can include threats to your children.
- Social Abuse– Social isolation imposed upon a partner, such as stopping you from seeing their family and friends. This may include enforced geographic isolation.
- Economic Abuse– Controlling and withholding access to family resources such as money and property.
What is the difference between Domestic Violence and Family Violence?
Some people feel that the term family violence is more inclusive of various family relationships and behaviours and not just limited to describing a husband/wife situation. DVCS views both terms with equal importance. Neither term should mask the fact that a member or members of a family are being abused by another member, or members, in the family.
What about counselling?
Counselling is a personal choice that needs a commitment from the person/s involved. Often the first step toward counselling is an acceptance of who is actually responsible for the violence. Many people subjected to violence know that the responsibility for the violence lies with their partner, but the partner is not yet accepting of the same amount of responsibility and sometimes tell their partner that if they changed things about themselves then they would ‘not have to use violence against them’.
Our experience is that until a person is accepting or ready to accept responsibility for the impact of their behaviour on others, then it is unlikely that counselling will be successful. Counselling can support a person to make decisions about their relationship and encourage them to examine their situation from an “outside” perspective.
A person who uses violence who has made the decision to attend counselling as a means of support should be encouraged but the safety of their partner and/or children should always remain paramount in any counselling.
I don't need accommodation, but can I still receive some assistance?
Our service also provides support for women who are experiencing domestic violence but do not require accommodation. We can also arrange transfers to other locations if required.
Why don't women just leave if her partner is abusive?
There are many reasons and some examples are – no income, fear of being found, fear of murder of herself and children, further threats of violence, harassment at work, promises of change, and threats of suicide.
Are there any rules for staying at a domestic violence agency?
Rules are in place and are based around health and safety issues. There is no alcohol or illegal drugs or activities allowed on the property.
Do women have to separate from their partner to use a domestic violence agency?
Domestic violence workers offer options for women to choose from. If women wish to separate from their partner then there are income, housing and legal options for them to choose. If a woman wishes a temporary break from her partner, then counselling options for their partner are offered. Some women just need support to stay in their relationship.