Domestic violence occurs when one partner, often a male, attempts to physically or psychologically dominate and control the other, most commonly a female. Women and children, due to their vulnerability, are the most prevalent victims of violence or abuse in intimate relationships. Although less frequent, males can also be victims of domestic violence – it is not something to be ashamed of.
Domestic violence can take a number of forms and all are equally as hurtful. The most common forms of domestic violence are physical violence, including pushing, shaking, slapping and striking, and sexual abuse, commonly forcing an individual to engage in non consensual sexual activity. Threats of violence or death are also considered domestic abuse.
It is important to remember that no one has the right to be violent towards you and there are services available to help you, including Victims of Crime Counselling and Compensation Services who can assist with financial compensation, counselling, relocation and other safety measures.
Family and domestic violence is the leading contributor to illness, disability and death for women in Victoria aged between 15 and 44 (VicHealth 2004). Additionally woman who have experience domestic violence have a greater risk of health problems including stress, depression and phobias (WHO 2000).
The Family Law Act 1975 defines family violence as “violent, threatening or other behavior by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family, or causes the family member to be fearful.” This includes (but is not limited to) behaviour such as assault, sexual assault, stalking and repeated derogatory taunts.
As with most forms of abuse, there are both short-term and long-term effects. Short-term effects often include anxiety, depression, social isolation, fear and physical/emotional injury. Long-term effects often include post-traumatic stress disorder, lack of self-esteem and disability. Incidents of violence or abuse from a family member can often be dismissed as the result of stress. However, excuses should not be made for perpetrators and abuse should be reported and dealt with.
Children in a family of violence are also impacted by the violence. More than a quarter of children and young people in Australia have witnessed acts of violence against their mother or stepmother (Indermaur, D. 2001). Children often blame themselves for the violence, copy the abuse behaviour or become nervous or withdrawn as a result of exposure to domestic violence. This exposure also impacts on the child’s cognitive development and progression. Children require education that violence is not the answer to issues and that the violence in the family home is not their fault. An increase in the understanding of the potential risk family violence has on children is necessary to ensure they are supported and their development is facilitated.
Family violence not only impacts the victim themselves and their families, but the entire community, the issue costing billions of dollars every year. There has been a recent rise in the rate of domestic violence in Victoria, of a 39.9% increase. Financial pressure and struggle has been blamed for the rise in figures. An extra $16 million is to be spent over four years by the government in order to tackle the rising rates of family violence.
Stalking. The Crimes Act 1958 states that a person must not stalk another person. The suggested minimum time imprisonment for the offence is five years, with a maximum of 10. Conduct that falls within this jurisdiction is when a person stalks another person when they follow the victim, when they conduct the victim or any other person by post etc, interfering with property of the victim’s and related behaviors. The legislation also suggests that for the purpose of the act an offender also must have an intention to cause physical or mental harm to the victim.
The crime of stalking has recently been extended as a result of the use of the internet (such as social media), an offence known as cyber-stalking. The legislation was modernized with the introduction of the Crimes (Stalking) Act 2003 which included the use of electronic communications. As a result of the technological revolution, the demands on the law remaining up-to-date have increased. Cyber-Stalking can target younger people, through the use of social media sites, such as Facebook.
Cyberstalking, defined by NetAlert, is “where a person is stalked or harassed by another person using a service of the internet such as email, instant messaging or via a posting in a discussion group. Stalking behaviours can include threats, cryptic messages and sexual innuendo that occur in a frequent and intrusive manner”. 4. This online behavior has presented various jurisdictional issues for legislatures to address.
In order to address the various issues of online crime thorough education programs must be enforced in schools,. Education will provide a preventative approach to combat the issue surrounding vulnerability online. Related behavior includes cyber bullying. This form of bullying is most commonly seen among schoolchildren and adolescents.
The Magistrate Courts’ found that the majority of stalking offenders are male, at 86.5%. With the majority of offenders between 21 and 40 years old. It was found that both men and women are more likely to stalk women than men, 86.0 per cent and 57.1 per cent respectively.
The effects of stalking on the victim often include a fear to leave the house, a fear of being followed, frustration, anxiety etc. In can also often result in a inability to trust others, isolation and insecurity. Victims of stalking are advised to seek assistance in order to deal with the issue and gain assurance for the future.
Family Violence Website: familyviolence.com.au
Victims of Crime Compensation & Counselling Services,
163 Victoria Parade Fitzroy Melbourne Victoria
1800 000 055
Phone: 9415 9492 Fax: 9415 9256
“Supporting the rights of victims of crime in Melbourne Victoria”.
Victims of Crime