You probably know a victim of family or domestic abuse – What should you do?

Statistically speaking, the chances are quite high that you know someone who has been the victim of family or domestic abuse, without ever knowing it. According to the Personal Safety Survey (PSS) in 2012 conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in eleven Australians have suffered domestic or family abuse. There is no agreed upon definition of domestic abuse, with each state having slightly different laws in place, however most states, including Queensland, define it generally as any violence occurring between intimate partners, relatives, family members, carers, or children (ABC News, 2016).

Most people tend to associate family abuse with physical violence, and while this makes up the majority of reported domestic abuse, it’s not the only kind of abuse which can occur. Emotional violence is a common type of abuse that often goes unreported, and includes things such as verbal abuse, rejection and bullying. Another form of family abuse is economic, which is when one person in the relationship controls the finances of the other person, perhaps limiting how much they can spend, or where they can spend it (ReachOut, 2016).

Another common myth of domestic violence is women are the only victims. In fact, according to the PSS, as well as various other surveys, men make up about a quarter of all domestic abuse victims (ABC News, 2016). However, some sources say this statistics may underestimate the number of male victims, as men are much less likely to report their experiences than women. However, the exact statistics aren’t as important as remembering anyone, regardless of age or gender, can be a victim of domestic abuse, and everyone’s experience should be treated equally.

So, now that we know what domestic abuse is, how does it affect people? Well, it can depend on the type of abuse that’s occurring. All forms of family abuse can cause physical symptoms such as chronic fatigue, muscle tension or changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns, because of elevated stress levels, although physical violence can also result in bruising, cuts and scratches, or, in some cases, broken bones. Family abuse can also impact a person’s psychological wellbeing, with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder common among victims (Joyful Heart Foundation, 2012).

If you, or someone you know is experiencing any form of domestic or family abuse, please know that help is available; there are many hotlines which you can call, or you can contact us at BayPsych Consultants to make an appointment to see one of our lovely psychologists on 3488 0483 or at admin@baypsych.com.au.

References

Effects of Domestic Violence. (2012). Joyfulheartfoundation.org. Retrieved 29 April 2017, from http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/learn/domestic-violence/effects-domestic-violence

Fact file: Domestic violence in Australia. (2016). ABC News. Retrieved 28 April 2017, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-06/fact-file-domestic-violence-statistics/7147938

What is emotional abuse?. (2016). ReachOut.com. Retrieved 29 April 2017, from http://au.reachout.com/what-is-emotional-abuse

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